By J
20/11/2009

Tenant 1 – 0 Receiver

B v N and others [2009] EWHC 2884 (Admin)

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes provision for the confiscation of the proceeds of an offence. In the case of realisable property (such as a residential home), s.80(2) permits the appointment of a receiver, who, in turn, is empowered to recover possession of the property. By s.80(4)

The court may order any person having possession of realisable property to give possession of it to any such receiver.

N had been convicted in December 2003 of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime. The realisable assets included a residential property at the heart of this dispute. The property was divided into 12 rooms with a common kitchen and bathroom and each room was let on an assured shorthold tenancy.

A receiver was appointed in respect of the property and the receiver sought possession of the property. None of the occupants of the property were given notice of the application for or appointment of a receiver and none were given notice of the application for a writ of possession.

Despite these procedural flaws, the question for the High Court was whether or not the powers of the receiver to recover possession against “any person” extended to recovery of possession against tenants under existing tenancies or statutory rights.

James Goudie QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, held that the receiver was not so entitled. The receiver, in effect, took the property subject to the existing interests. Those persons in occupation pursuant to a tenancy agreement were entitled to have the terms of their tenancy respected and those who occupied under a statutory entitlement (i.e. holding over as a periodic tenancy at the end of a fixed term AST) were likewise protected. In each case, the receiver could only obtain possession pursuant to an order of the court, in the usual way. Section 80(4) did not trump the rights of persons in actual occupation pursuanRect to contractual or statutory rights.

Now,  my devious legal mind wonders if there might be good news in this decision for criminals. Suppose that I have a criminal asset which includes a house. If I grant a 999 year lease of that house to, say, my brother, that lease would appear to bind the receiver and mean that he can’t recover possession other than through forfeiture…

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.

7 Comments

  1. Francis Davey

    Ah, nice try.

    Your grant of a lease to your brother would almost certainly be a “gift” within the meaning of s.74(1) which means that it is also realisable property and is caught by the enforcement powers, for example in s.80(6).

    They saw you coming.

    Reply
  2. simply wondered

    presumably because it is a disposal of a right in land not for value – or indeed money or money’s worth? (love that phrase!)

    Reply
    • J

      Amended. Thanks.

      Reply
      • chief

        This is one of the problems with BAILII, I’ve got caught out with it before. At least they go back and anonymise judgments though. One of the main paid for databases (I’ll leave you to work out which one) still carries a transcript of a case from the first half of 2008 that clearly identifies the claimants in a quite horrendous factual situation, where their name has been anonymised in the case title and everywhere else that carries the transcript. I’m sure there are other instances, but that seems particularly bad.

        Reply
    • anon

      [Edited by J] – Anon, if the High Court wants the judgment anonymised, then this website isn’t going to disagree. Please don’t do that again.

      Reply
  3. anon

    its easily accessible on the internet and isnt exactly being kept a secret,

    [edited by NL – others may not have caught up with the High Court’s desire to anonymise it, but we have. Which bit of J’s polite request not to do that again escaped you?]

    Reply

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