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The future of Anti-Bribery & Corruption legislation: UWOs & AFOs


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Fiona Horlick QC and Oliver Powell co-authored the eleventh chapter of Lissack and Horlick on Bribery and Corruption. The following is a summary of the chapter, giving an overview of UWOs and AFOs. It is part of a serialisation of the chapters that members of Outer Temple contributed to the publication.

The introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders (‘UWOs’) was first proposed by Transparency International UK in June 2015, as a solution to the “critical gaps in the UK legal framework which are being exploited by corrupt individuals and companies”. Chapter 11 of Lissack and Horlick on Bribery and Corruption demystifies the statutory framework which gives law enforcement agencies new capabilities and powers to recover the proceeds of crime, and to tackle money laundering, corruption and terrorist financing.

Contrary to public misconception, a UWO is an investigative tool designed to tackle illicit wealth, it is not itself a remedy for recovering monies obtained through corrupt practices. Two years on from their introduction, there had only been 16 applications for UWOs, which fell short of the aspiration held by NGOs and society at large, that they would become common place. This said, the Court of Appeal’s backing of the NCA’s use of UWOs, in dismissing an appeal brought by the subject of the first UWO granted, may embolden enforcement agencies and lead to an increased use of UWOs. Moreover, at a time when vast sums of money are laundered through London’s banking system, it seems unlikely that UWOs will be a flash in the pan. The chapter’s detailed analysis of the decision in NCA v Mrs A (Zamira Hajiyeva [2018] EWHC 2534 (Admin) will assist practitioners seeking to understand, apply and advise on the legal test for UWOs.

Like UWOs, Account Freezing Orders (‘AFOs’) were also introduced in the Criminal Finance Act 2017. However, in contrast, there were 670 applications made for AFOs in the first two years since their introduction. The expeditious, relatively self-contained and cost-effective nature of the applications makes them an attractive tool, and therefore an effective means of civil recovery for enforcement agencies. Practitioners instructed to challenge AFOs will benefit from the clear and methodical explanation of the appeal process and the matters to be particularly aware of, which are contained in this chapter. For instance, practitioners who act for respondents should be mindful that the written reasons and documents that their clients provide in relation to AFOs can be used not only in any subsequent civil forfeiture proceedings but also in respect of any future criminal proceedings.

Read the Chapter

Fiona and Oliver’s chapter is available for Lexis Nexis subscribers here.

About the Authors

Fiona Horlick QC was consistently ranked as a Band 1 (top tier) leading junior before her elevation to silk, in both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. She is now ranked as a respected New Silk.  She is praised for her unrivalled advocacy skills, her unbending will to succeed as well as her charisma and her ability to handle clients with sensitivity.

Fiona’s practice encompasses Health and Safety, a wide variety of Regulatory work, Disciplinary proceedings and Specialist Crime – particularly business crime, medical crime, and health and safety criminal proceedings. She has extensive experience as an advocate in all courts from the Privy Council (defending in murder appeals), the Court of Appeal, the High Court, Crown Courts (all types of crime), regulatory proceedings and inquests. She honed her skills on criminal work and jury trials before expanding her work profile.

Oliver undertakes instructions that involve the regulation of business activity and commerce. His practice encompasses: asset forfeiture & civil recovery; business crime; commercial fraud; financial services; and indirect tax.

Oliver Powell is routinely instructed in matters with an international element and usually cases involving allegations of dishonesty, sharp practice or breach of trust. He is a Barrister of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (BVI), a member of the New York State Bar Association, and in recent years has undertaken work in inter alia: USA, UAE, Greece, Falkland Islands and UK offshore jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man.

Recent or extant work includes:

  • representing Behzad Fuels (UK) Ltd in the Court of Appeal;
  • advising a well-known fund manager in relation to an FCA investigation;
  • retained to advise on the largest ever financial investigation conducted in the IOM;
  • representing a former SVP of Alstom Network UK charged with conspiracy to corrupt;
  • advising an individual following the London Capital & Finance Plc collapse;
  • advising a large corporate in relation to an investigation by OFSI;
  • advising a former Director of British Solar Renewables Ltd in relation to an SFO investigation.

Find Out More

If you would like to discuss any of the issues covered in this article please contact Fiona or Oliver directly or via his practice management team; David Smith on (+44 (0)20 7427 4905) or Colin Bunyan on +44 (0)20 7427 4886.


Barristers: Fiona Horlick QC | Oliver Powell
Categories: News