An Introduction To Civil Asset Recovery
(Extracts from the Fraud Advisory Panel guidance)
The following description of the asset recovery process in civil cases aims to dispel misconceptions in respect of the process and costs and encourage the use of the courts as a method for exacting justice against fraudsters who might otherwise go unpunished.
Civil asset recovery process
The civil asset recovery process from start to finish is:
Stage 1: building the case
It is important to speak to a legal practitioner who has experience of the fraud litigation and recovery process as soon as possible. At this stage it is crucial to build up a body of evidence that can be used in any court proceedings and to determine whether it is financially worthwhile pursuing the claim.
Stage 2: freezing
The next step is to obtain a freezing order to prevent the defendant from frustrating your claim by doing something that would put their assets out of reach. For example by transferring assets into the name of a third party or by taking them outside of the jurisdiction. This should be done quickly.
Stage 3: claiming
Proceedings can now be issued against the fraudster. This is done by delivering a claim form to the appropriate court setting out the necessary details of your claim.
Claims of less than £5,000 will be allocated to the ‘small-claims track’. This procedure is used in low-value claims by individuals without legal representation, meaning the process is simplified and involves straightforward directions from the court concerning matters such as disclosure of documents.
Claims of more than £5,000 (but less than £25,000) will be allocated to the ‘fast-track’. This procedure is designed to take straightforward cases to trial within a short but reasonable timescale.
Claims for more than £25,000 will be allocated to the ‘multi-track’, where the court will be more involved and will issue more specific directions that are tailored to the case.
Stage 4: enforcement
If successful at trial, the court will enter judgement against the wrongdoer, declaring that the fraudster owes a sum of money to the victim. Where the court has granted a freezing order, the victim may look to the assets that were frozen in order to satisfy the debt. If not, and in cases where the wrongdoer fails to make payment promptly, the victim may have the following options available to recover the debt: