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Confiscation – A continuing act is capable of amounting to a criminal lifestyle

Lloyd Jenkins looks at SORAYA [2022] EWCA Crim 602 (3 May 2022) and its implications for POCA cases.

SORAYA [2022] EWCA Crim 602 (3 May 2022) caught my eye recently in Issue 5 of Archbold Review.

The appellant was convicted of dishonestly furnishing false material to a local authority with a view to obtaining Housing Benefit, contrary to a.111A (1)(b) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

A criminal benefit of £404,179.82 was identified and so a confiscation order was made.

The appellant submitted that the offence in question was not a lifestyle offence within the meaning of s.75(2)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (the POCA). As a result, it was further submitted that the lifestyle assumptions required by s.10 of the POCA did not apply.

Furthermore, it was submitted that the offence was particularised as having only occurred on a single day and was not, therefore, a continuing act.

The respondent forcefully submitted that the said fraudulent claim was committed over a period of at least six months; the dishonesty being committed over a 5 year period. The date of the charge simply identified the date the appellant provided a fraudulent document with the offence continuing thereafter.

The Court of Appeal considered carefully how the Crown presented their case.

The Court of Appeal ruled that an offence under s.111(A)(1)(b) is capable of being a continuing offence, from the moment when the duty to disclose arises, until the true position becomes known.

It was further ruled that the Crown had presented their case on the basis of a continuing act, from 2012 to 2017.

In the circumstances, the lifestyle assumptions under s.10, POCA had been properly applied when the lower court made the above said confiscation order.

Appeal dismissed.

Find out further details about SORAYA [2022] EWCA Crim 602 (3 May 2022).

Contact the Public Defender Service to instruct one of our criminal defence lawyers for confiscation and POCA cases.