Peters & Peters

P&P secures key judgment for costs in Account Forfeiture case

On 1 December 2020, District Judge Rimmer handed down judgment awarding costs in our client’s favour in a striking departure from usual practice. Our application for costs followed the judge’s dismissal, on 20 October 2020, of the National Crime Agency’s application to forfeit £3.2million held in the bank account of our client, the former CEO of a multi-national corporation in the offshore oil and energy sector. The starting point for costs in these cases is that the court should make no order for costs: Regina (Perinpanathan) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court and another [2010] EWCA Civ 40.

In deviating from this presumption, the judge took into account various features of the National Crime Agency’s conduct, which he agreed were “improper, unreasonable, inappropriate, lacked sound grounds, and were open to criticism”.

The judge commented that “[i]n contradistinction, the behaviour of the Respondent’s legal representatives I regard as impeccable throughout these proceedings. There was consistently open and transparent engagement and cooperation with the NCA’s investigation by Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP, which put forward the Respondent’s case and sought resolution using a thoroughly reasoned and diligently evidence-based approach. Their detailed representations, correction of factual inaccuracies, voluntary provision of documentation, and correspondence sought at every stage to point out the legal and factual issues, and the problems with the NCA’s application, in a clear, helpful and cogent way.”

Whilst the financial means of our client raised no spectre of financial hardship, and while financial prejudice would not have been sufficient to justify an order for costs, the judge held that the combination of financial prejudice with the National Crime Agency’s overall conduct, did justify an award of costs being made in this case.

Partner Maria Cronin and Associate Karl Masi.

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