Friday, 1 July 2011
Another confiscation case
A month ago I noticed a report of another confiscation order being made in a planning enforcement case. The London Borough of Bexley obtained a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime 2002 against defendants who were running an illegal car trade from residential premises. Prosecution had followed their failure to comply with an enforcement notice by continuing to allow cars to be sold from their home.
The defendants appeared at Bexley Magistrates' Court on 20 July 2010 for trial, having earlier pleaded not guilty. They were found guilty of the offence and committed to Woolwich Crown Court for sentencing and for the Council's application for a confiscation order against them to be considered. The defendants were said to have benefited by £182,120 from their illegal activity.
However, the confiscation order was limited to £3,000 to be paid within six months. The court accepted that the defendants lacked the means to pay the balance, but made an order which was intended to secure the confiscation of the remaining £179,120 should the defendants be able to pay in future.
The Planning Committee Chairman claimed that this was one of the first cases in the country where a confiscation order has been issued in a planning enforcement case but, as we have seen in this blog, there have already been a number of other reported cases, and no doubt there have been more cases which have gone unreported.
This case does nevertheless serve as a further reminder of the financial risk that people run if they fail to comply with an enforcement notice against a development which gives them a financial reward of any kind. As we have seen, the gross sum received (and not just the net profit), if the failure to comply with the enforcement notice continues for more than six months after the enforcement notice took effect, can then be confiscated, subject to the other criteria set out in POCA being satisfied.
© MARTIN H GOODALL