Sunday, 10 October 2010


I do not doubt for one moment that we should freeze the assets of terrorists.  On the other hand I cannot understand why this cannot be a judicial act.  Why can't HMG pop off to a Magistrates' Court and ask some JPs (or a High Court Judge if they are not to be trusted) to have a quick look at the evidence and to make the relevant order (ex parte and in camera of course).  This is the sort of thing that happens everyday for search warrants and a range of other authorised intrusions into a person's liberty.  Then the asset frozen alleged terrorist could apply back on the 'return date' to contest the matter if he or she so chose.  Instead under the current bill zooming through the House of Lords at the moment HMG freezes your assets and then the onus is on the alleged terrorist to appeal to the QBD to set the order aside.  I would feel  much better if HMG had to persuade the judiciary first before being able freeze assets even on a reasonable suspicion on reasonable grounds basis.  I think it does police men and civil servants (as well as spooky spooks) the power of good to have to explain themselves to a judge before freezing a person's assets, rather than the other way round.  Plus all sorts of criminal offences flow from assets being frozen (and which can be committed by people other than the alleged terrorist) like not making economic resources available to someone who has had their assets frozen - better if such criminal consequences were invoked by a judge rather than the executive.  The executive must have the powers to keep us safe, but such powers must be properly checked by the judiciary, who are equally capable of protecting national security.


  1. I see no good reason why the seizure could not be authorised by a judge of at lease Circuit Judge rank. I do not think that JPs would be the right venue. This is no disrespect to them but magistrates' courts have little involvement with proceeds of crime matters generally and it would seem preferable to keep that work with judges who are experienced at it.

    I would be interested to hear the reasons why the judicial hearing (if any) has to be ex post facto.

    A possible parallel with search warrants might be where the warrant is to search for special procedure material / excluded material etc. Those go to the judges.

  2. I agree, the freezing of the assets is, in effect, an injuction preventing the owner from accessing them. I see now reason why there should be a divergence from the usual course for obtaining an injunction of applying to a judge, albeit in camera.

    Slightly off topic, but when I saw the headline "Freezing Terrorist Assests", was I the only one who thought cruel and unusual punishment/ouch?