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POCA: Assets, Tax Assessments and Civil Proceedings

Date:10 FEB 2006

Andrew Watters, Partner, Levy Watters. In 'X v X (CPS Intervening): Criminality, Confiscation and Ancillary Relief' at [2006] Fam Law 21, Christopher Hames and David Williams pointed to a likely increase in the frequency with which family law practitioners would need to engage with the competing claims of the Crown, the husband and the wife to disputed assets. A key player in the Crown's claims can be the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA). Hames and Williams refer to the novelty of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) giving the ARA the power to issue civil proceedings against assets believed to be derived from the proceeds of crime.

Under Part 6 of the POCA, in order to recover the proceeds of crime, the Director of ARA can assume powers giving her the right to issue assessments which place a charge to tax on a person. Such powers are normally the prerogative of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The assumption of such powers by the Director is only appropriate where other powers available to the ARA are deemed inappropriate. The first published decision of the Special Commissioners is Gary Harper v The Director of the Assets Recovery Agency (SpC/00507). The basis upon which the Commissioners reached their decision may be of interest to practitioners who have a client whose affairs are directly or indirectly related to an ARA tax assessment.