Restraint Orders are typically sought against individuals who are being investigated for serious criminal offences such as money laundering, drug trafficking or fraud. Their aim is to preserve assets that might later be subject to confiscation proceedings.

A restraint order can be made at any point after a criminal investigation has been launched. It is not necessary for you to have been arrested or charged with an offence before a restraint order can be made.

It is, however, necessary that the application for the restraint order shows reasonable grounds to suspect that you have obtained a benefit from criminal conduct.

Our members have considerable experience challenging and fighting restraint orders for both those personally subject as well as third parties.

What Is A Restraint Order?

A restraint order is a court order that freezes assets (wherever in the world they might be) when a criminal investigation is underway.

The order prevents assets from being moved or liquidated, ensuring they can be confiscated if necessary later.

It is important to note that restraint orders can be sought without notice; you might not be aware of the application until after it has been made

Beyond the direct target of a restraint order, other parties can also suffer their devastating effect – be they trustees, or companies.

Once in place, assets can remain frozen for many years.

Can You Ignore A Restraint Order?

Non-compliance with a restraint order is considered contempt of court and, in extreme cases, may be treated as perverting the course of justice.

A conviction for either offence usually carries a prison sentence.

What Is The Restraint Order Process?

After a criminal investigation has begun, the Crown can apply for a restraint order under section 41 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Before making the restraint order, a Judge will be provided with evidence from the applicant.

The first you will know about this process is that you will be served with a copy of the order, which will already be in force when you receive this.

These orders will often remain in place not only for the duration of an investigation but until the conclusion of any resulting criminal proceedings.

How Libertas Chambers Can Help With Restraint Orders

Our members regularly advise and represent clients who are subject to or threatened with restraint orders.

This can involve challenging the Orders where the conditions for their grant have not been satisfied and applying for variation or discharge, for example, when proceedings are not brought within a reasonable time or where the amount of assets frozen is excessive.

We also represent third parties, such as spouses, companies or business partners, affected by such orders to ensure their interests are protected.

Instruct LibertasTo discuss your case please contact our clerks by phone on +44 (0) 20 7036 0200 or email us at