Clause 102 - Postponement

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 6 December 2001.

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Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Minister of State, Scottish Office, Minister of State (Scotland Office) 10:45, 6 December 2001

As clause 102 is currently drafted, the period of postponement of two years does not apply if there are exceptional circumstances. For the avoidance of doubt, amendments Nos. 155 and 156 make it clear that the accused's failure to comply with an order under clause 105(1) is a circumstance that causes the two-year postponement period to be disapplied. The amendments are designed to afford the prosecutor the opportunity to consider the accused's case, if he has appealed against conviction, at least six months prior to the expiry of the two-year period, and to be in a position to proceed to the final hearing within the time limits.

Amendment No. 157 is designed to ensure that, when an application to extend proceedings is made before the end of the current postponement period, but the postponement period ends before the application can be heard, the application can nevertheless be heard after the end of the postponement period.

Amendments Nos. 158 and 159 are technical. They cure an omission in the clause, by adding a reference to compensation orders.

The overall effect is that a court cannot impose a fine or other monetary penalty on the accused during the postponement period before a confiscation order is made. That is because the court needs to determine the confiscation order before it can decide on the appropriate amount of fine.

Amendment No. 160 enables the court to impose a fine or other monetary penalty once the postponement period has ended and the confiscation order been made. It reflects the provisions in clause 16(3) and (4). Clause 102, as amended, enables the court to postpone the confiscation proceedings for up to a total of two years.

Confiscation proceedings are often complex and time may be required to gather together all the necessary financial information. The two-year period may be extended by the courts in exceptional circumstances or if the accused has failed to comply with an order under clause 105 requiring him to respond to a prosecutor's statement of information within a certain period. The clause, as amended, like part 2, contains provision to deal with a situation in which an application for a postponement is made before the previous period of postponement expires, but cannot be dealt with by the court in time.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 156, in page 60, line 38, leave out from 'conviction' to end of line 39.

No. 157, in page 61, line 4, at end insert—

'(6A) If—

(a) proceedings are postponed for a period, and

(b) an application to extend the period is made before it ends,

the application may be granted even after the period ends.'.—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Clause 102, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.