Clause 93 - Appeal in proceedings for forfeiture of cash

Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 13 January 2005.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 4:00, 13 January 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 245, in clause 93, page 59, at end insert—

'(2A) The appeal is to be by way of a re-hearing.'.

I tried to work out what was being changed here, and I realised that we seemed to be changing the need   to have an appeal by way of rehearing. I thought that we would put it back in, so as to find out from the Minister why it was taken out.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The reason is simply that a rehearing is not required in every case. For instance, the appeal may be on a matter of law, and we see no need for cases to be heard afresh in such situations. Also, if the Appeal Court thought it appropriate for an appeal to be by way of a rehearing, it could do so. The provision does not prevent it. It will a matter for the courts on a case-by-case basis. I accept that the Proceeds of Crime Act requires all appeals to be made by way of a rehearing, but on reflection we decided that it was unnecessary here.

The reason for the rehearing in the Proceeds of Crime Act is partly to do with the cash recovery scheme, which was closely modelled on that in the Drug Trafficking Act 1994. The chief difference in the proposed new section 299 is that it also gives the right of appeal to the prosecution. We think that that is appropriate. As with some of the other measures that we have discussed today, it is about hindsight. We are considering how things are implemented, and coming forward with a safeguarded but reasonable and practical approach to tackling such matters.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General

Taking the latter point first, I appreciate that it allows the prosecution to appeal. I have no objection to that. I have to say that when I read the original section, I did not notice that the prosecution did not have a right of appeal. However, perhaps unintentionally the drafting does not seem to provide for that. It shows that even the 36 sittings in Committee and in the House of Lords scrutinising that Bill may not have done the job intended.

The Crown court is capable of dealing with points of law, and not appeals by way of rehearing. However, the Minister will be aware that appeals in the Crown court generally take place by way of rehearing of the facts as well as submissions of law. As long as there is the possibility for an entire rehearing, I am content. What concerned me was the possibility that the process would exclude that. On the basis of the Minister's reassurance that that is not the case, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 93 ordered to stand part of the Bill.