Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED August 1, 2003

The judge presiding over confiscation proceedings did not err in ruling that the sentencing judge had taken and made manifest a decision to postpone the confiscation proceedings until after sentence was passed.Appeal against confiscation orders made by Eccles J at Northampton Crown Court on 28 June 2001 and 3 December 2001. The appellants had all pleaded guilty to various offences in relation to brothels that they operated. The offences included conspiracy to assist illegal entry into the United Kingdom, living on the immoral earnings of prostitutes and exercising control over a prostitute. The matter came before Bray J for sentence on 15 September 2000. At that time the Crown notified Bray J that it would be making an application to adjourn the associated confiscation proceedings and invited the judge to proceed with sentencing beforehand. Bray J agreed to proceed stating "if everybody agrees to that, I will do that". Only counsel for the third appellant commented, noting that it did not accept the amount of benefit set out in the case summary. Eccles J rejected the point taken on behalf of the defence that, on 15 September 2000 Bray J had failed to take a judicial decision, and/or to make that decision manifest, to the effect that the determination in the proposed confiscation proceedings should be postponed until after the sentencing process, as required by s.72A Criminal Justice Act 1988. Eccles J found that: (i) when Bray J said "I will do that" he was making a judicial decision; (ii) Bray J gave all counsel the opportunity to make representations on the Crown's proposal; and (iii) all counsel understood before sentence that the confiscation hearing was going to take place after sentencing. On appeal, the appellants argued that Eccles J erred in finding that Bray J had indicated a decision.HELD: The appeal was without merit. Eccles J considered that, on 15 September 2000, Bray J had manifestly reached a decision that the determination in the confiscation proceedings should be postponed. He considered that decision was well understood and concurred with by counsel before sentencing and that this position was confirmed by the exchanges on the day when sentence was passed. There was no error in Eccles J's ruling.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 2246