John Bevan QC’s 2 Harcourt Buildings and 7 Bedford Row have been appointed to the Metropolitan Police’s panel for work stemming from the new Proceeds of Crime Act.
The controversial legislation gives the police new civil powers to seize money belonging to suspected criminals without first securing a conviction.
The two chambers will in the first instance advise the police at compulsory magistrates hearings, which will be used to justify the permanent seizure of these assets.
The Met’s Assets Recovery Unit can seize assets and then carry out a three-month investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service can also seize assets, but only after securing a conviction.
As the legislation only came into force in January, there are understood to have been few, if any, confiscations. 7 Bedford Row counsel say most of the hearings they have appeared in relate to applications for extending the period of investigation. The set’s proceeds of crime group is headed by Adam Weitzman.
2 Harcourt Buildings’ special confiscation unit is headed by Matthew Farmer, although the work is spread throughout the set.
Barristers on the Customs & Excise panel, which includes members of both sets, are well positioned to do this sort of work, as Customs & Excise has had these powers for many years.