Administrative Court gives guidance on correct RRO procedure

Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Mostyn, sitting in the Administrative Court, have dismissed a judicial review of the decision to lift a reporting restriction order (RRO) made during forfeiture proceedings, which arose following a money laundering investigation by the NCA. The judgment provides useful guidance on the proper procedure to be adopted when applying for RROs in forfeiture proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and more broadly.

The Claimant had brought a claim for judicial review of the decision of a District Judge in the Magistrates’ Court to discharge an RRO. The Claimant was not a party to the forfeiture proceedings, or a witness, but had been identified during the forfeiture proceedings as having various connections with the respondents to the proceedings, as well as the activities investigated by the NCA.

The Claimant argued that the District Judge had erred in law when he discharged the order. However, Warby LJ and Mostyn J disagreed. The Judge had identified the relevant legal principles, and, when conducting the balancing exercise between the Claimant’s anonymity and the principle of open justice, he had not taken into account irrelevant considerations or omitted relevant considerations.

The case will be of interest for the guidance given by Mostyn J regarding the correct procedure for seeking RROs in forfeiture proceedings, as well as relevant considerations where RROs (and, particularly, blanket or contra mundum orders) are sought more generally.

5RB’s Gervase de Wilde acted for the Claimant (instructed by Farrer & Co), led by Lord Pannick KC and Jessica Boyd KC of Blackstone Chambers.