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"OMG! I've been served with a freezing order: What now?" A practical guide to Freezing Orders (Part 2) by Ian Coupland, Head of Commercial and Litigation, Lewis Nedas Law.

articles publishedWe have all read in the press about people being “served” with a Court Order. If the order is a freezing injunction, you will probably find that:

  • your access to your bank account is restricted;
  • business transactions become more difficult; and
  • you are required to list and disclose your assets to the claimant in a matter of hours.

And all of this carries with it the threat of being imprisoned for contempt of court (i.e. disobedience to an order of the Court).

If you have the misfortune to be on the receiving end of the legal broadside that is a freezing order, the likelihood is that the Order itself will be many pages long, and that it will have been “served” – legal jargon for being formally delivered to you – with hundreds, and maybe thousands, of pages of evidence and exhibited documents. You need expert legal advice – and fast.

We at Lewis Nedas Law have many years’ experience of acting for clients who have had injunctions, including freezing orders, made against them. We can assist with ensuring:

  • that the person injuncted complies with what they have been ordered to do;
  • that the Order was only made after the Claimant has jumped through all the necessary legal “hoops”;
  • that the person injuncted’s rights are as fully protected as they can be; and
  • that the person who obtained the Order is not acting unreasonably or oppressively;

We can advise whether it is worth trying to get such an order removed.

We also obtain injunctions for our clients – see our Practical Guide Part 1 here.

What is a freezing Order?

A freezing Order is a form of injunction made by the Court to prevent a Defendant (which includes companies, employees and those acting on behalf of a Defendant) from hiding, removing, disposing of, or even merely dealing with, their assets. The objective is to prevent the person injuncted from creating a situation where, following a judgment in the Claimant’s favour at the end of the case, no money or assets are available (or none that can be found) to meet the Claimant‘s claims. 

A freezing order may be of two broad types: (1) where the Claimant is claiming their own property, such as where the Claimant says that the Defendant has possession of the Claimant’s money (for example, where the Defendant is responsible for the money being taken, or  perhaps it has been paid by an associate of the Defendant); and (2) where the Claimant believes that the Defendant may dispose of or conceal assets to defeat a judgment, and the Court freezes assets up to a value sufficient to satisfy the Claimant’s claim and estimated legal costs, so that, after a money judgment has been obtained, the frozen assets may be used to satisfy it. 

The freezing injunction must contain a maximum amount so that assets over that particular threshold are not frozen.

Whose assets are caught?

This depends on the terms of the Order that was actually made. Normally, the order defines “the Defendant’s assets” as assets whether or not they are in the Defendant’s own name, and whether they are solely or jointly owned. They include any asset which the Defendant has the power, directly or indirectly, to dispose of or deal with as if it were his own, and a person is regarded as having such power if a third party holds or controls the asset in accordance with his direct or indirect instructions.

Because everyone’s personal situation is different, it is frequently the case that there may be doubts about whether a particular asset is caught by the order. We can assist a person who has had an order made against them to decide whether an asset is frozen or not.

What about overseas assets?

The normal form of Freezing Order restrains only assets within England and Wales. An extended form of freezing injunction (for which additional safeguards apply) may be made in respect of assets whether they are in or outside England and Wales.

“I’ve been ordered to disclose all my assets – and in an incredibly short time. Must I?”

Freezing Orders always contain so-called “ancillary orders” designed to make the primary order more effective. The most usual one of these requires the person injuncted – often within 48 hours of service of the order to inform the Claimant’s solicitors of all his assets whether in his own name or not and whether solely or jointly owned, giving the value, location and details of all such assets.

Usually this requirement is subject to a minimum value per item in order to avoid listing items such as household furniture or bicycles, which are not the sort of assets that the Claimant is likely to be interested in.

The Order then usually requires the person injuncted to produce an affidavit (which is written testimony sworn as true) verifying the disclosure made, and producing evidence such as supporting bank statements. There is a set time for compliance with this, which is usually a matter of days.

Because the Order contains statements such as that “Wrongful refusal to provide the information is contempt of court and may render the Respondent liable to be imprisoned, fined or have his assets seized” it is important that anyone who receives such an order takes proper advice on their compliance obligations.

“Taking the 5th“ – the “privilege against self-incrimination.”

In the USA, the right against self-incrimination is enshrined in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. In England, it is (perhaps strangely) referred to as the “privilege against self-incrimination.”

In the standard form of freezing injunction, this privilege is worded as: “If the provision of any of this information is likely to incriminate the [person injuncted], he may be entitled to refuse to provide it, but is recommended to take legal advice before refusing to provide the information.”

The principle is that a person cannot be forced to give evidence which may tend to show that he has been guilty of criminal conduct. Using it, then, can be considered to be a double-edged sword, for whilst reliance on it may avoid the disclosure of information, it is also an admission of involvement in criminal conduct, which does not necessarily assist in persuading the Court on a subsequent occasion that the person injuncted has no liability in respect of the conduct which led to the making of the injunction.

The occasions when it is appropriate to rely on the privilege against self-incrimination are very rare.

“If my assets are frozen, how do I live?”

The standard form of freezing order contains provisions which allow the person who has been injuncted to have access to ordinary living and business expenses and also a reasonable sum for legal advice and representation. However, the amounts originally permitted are often far lower than the actual amounts spent each week, and it will often be necessary to obtain the Claimant’s agreement or a further Court order increasing the amounts.

Furthermore, the order does not prohibit dealing with or disposing of assets “in the ordinary and proper course of business.” This is designed not to close down a business which has its normal costs such as rent or salaries to be met.

“What do I do if the Claimant’s got it all wrong?”

Every freezing injunction has a provision in it allowing anyone affected by it to apply to the Court at any time to vary or discharge the Order (or so much of it as affects that person). This includes the person who has been made the subject of the injunction.

Before making such an application, that person must first inform the Claimant’s solicitors. If any evidence is to be relied upon in support of the application, the substance of it must be communicated in writing to the Claimant’s solicitors in advance.

The right to apply to set aside (i.e. undo the making of) an Order can be deployed in more circumstances than if the Claimant has obtained an injunction against completely the wrong person (for example, the wrong John Smith). When applying for an injunction, a Claimant must make what is called “full and frank disclosure” of material facts which may make the Court doubt that it is right to grant an injunction. If the Claimant has provided written evidence which is incomplete or which materially misstates the facts, then the person injuncted can go back to the Court and ask for the order to be discharged.

There are other grounds for seeking to set aside such an order once made. At Lewis Nedas, we can advise if such grounds exist, and how to make the best use of them.

How long will the injunction last for?

A freezing injunction is normally applied for in the absence of the Defendant, and if granted, lasts for a short period such as one week. The Claimant then has to return to the Court (the so-called “Return Date”) to obtain the continuation of the injunction.

This is the Defendant’s chance to seek to obtain changes to the Order, or to seek its discharge. However, the complexity of the case may require a longer period than one week to prepare for such an application, and tactical decisions may need to be made as to how to proceed. For example, it is often better to agree to delay the Return Date (meaning that the injunction continues for a short further period before the case comes back before the court) in order to have more time to prepare to resist the longer-term continuation or its terms, or to ready an application to set aside in whole or in part.

We are experienced in helping clients with those decisions.


We are not going to pretend that resisting the continuation of an injunction, or applying to set aside, is cheap. It is only worthwhile when there is a serious dispute and a lot of money at stake.

Why are we saying this? It is because we do not want to waste your time or ours.

We will always provide you with estimates of the likely legal costs going forward. Like filling a car with petrol before going on a trip, our business model works on the basis that each stage is pre-funded: we hold the funds in our client account on your behalf until they are needed. In this way, our clients can keep track of their ongoing expenditure.

Whilst, as mentioned above, the Order allows for expenditure on legal costs, there can nevertheless be difficulties where the Claimant alleges that all the frozen assets belong to them. In such a case, it will usually be necessary to borrow the funds from elsewhere.

Why Lewis Nedas?

At Lewis Nedas Law, you can rely on us to do a proper job at reasonable cost. We have the experience, but we do not have City of London overheads or steep hourly rates. Above all, we want to understand your commercial objectives, and will do our best to achieve them. We work closely with exceptional Counsel as appropriate.

We do not rack up legal costs willy-nilly. We are aware that legal costs are a burden, and we are keen to keep our charges to as low a level as can reasonably be achieved. We will guide you as to the most effective ways of enabling us to give you the best service we can, whilst also keeping our fees down.

You can rely on Lewis Nedas to tell you if your case has problems which make it desirable to negotiate a settlement with your opponents.


This article is intended to be no more than a general guide, and does not comprise legal advice. You are strongly advised to take legal advice before making or resisting any application to the Court.

For legal advice and assistance please contact Ian Coupland, Head of Commercial and Litigation, Lewis Nedas Law on 02073872032 or


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“They haven’t paid, and now I think they are hiding their assets” A practical guide to Freezing Orders (Part 1) by Ian Coupland, Head of Commercial and Litigation at Lewis Nedas Law.

gavel 2It is everyone’s concern: you are owed a large sum of money, and the person or company who owes you the money (the debtor) seems to be putting their money offshore or hiding it away. Maybe they are selling their house. What if they transfer their money with a mouse-click and disappear? How will you be paid then?

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Siobhain Egan published in Corporate Live Wire - Article on the New Corporate offence established for failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion

Fraud imageSiobhain Egan has been published in Corporate Live Wire for their Fraud and White Collar Crime 2017 Experts Guide, explaining the New Corporate offence established for failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.

Read the article here.


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New Debt Recovery Pre-action Protocol

debt recovery 1The first day of the new legal year introduced a new Pre-Action Protocol specifically formed to facilitate debt claims (‘the Protocol’). As of 1 October 2017, creditors must comply with the Protocol when claiming payment of a debt from a debtor, failure to do so is likely to result in cost sanctions.

Preceding Position

Due to the time and expense of court action it is commonplace that the issuing of court proceedings is used as a last resort in an attempt to settle disputes. The Civil Procedure Rules provide a number of protocols which highlight Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) ideas. 

Before the Protocol came into force, there was no specific standing on Pre-Action Protocol for debt claims. Parties were, however, expected to observe the existing Practice Direction for Pre-Action Conduct.

When will the Protocol apply and to whom?

The new Protocol applies to any business (in limited form, partnerships, sole traders and public bodies) claiming payment of a debt from an individual (also includes a sole trader).  The business is referred to as the creditor and the individual is referred to as the debtor.

Put simply, the protocol details the particular conduct the court will expect of the parties prior to the start of proceedings. One distinct feature of the Protocol is the new Information Sheet and Reply Form which must be provided to the debtors in all cases. The Protocol was initiated to complement any regulatory regime to which the creditor is subject – if compliance with this Protocol is incompatible with a specific regulatory obligation, that regulatory obligation will take precedence.

In summary, the Protocol does not apply:

- To business-to-business debts unless the debtor is a sole trader;

- Where the debt is covered by another pre-action protocol such as construction and engineering or mortgage arrears;

- To claims issued by HM Revenue and Customs that are governed by Practice Direction 7D (Claims for the Recovery of Taxes and Duties)

Aims of the Protocol

  1. To encourage  early engagement and communication between the parties, including early exchange of sufficient information about the matter to help clarify whether there are any issues in dispute;

  2. Enable the parties to resolve the matter without the need to start court proceedings, including agreeing a reasonable repayment plan or considering using an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure;

  3. Encourage the parties to act in a reasonable and proportionate manner in all dealings with one another;

  4. Support the efficient management of proceedings that cannot be avoided.

The Process

The process begins with the creditor who should:

  1. Send to the debtor a letter of claim before proceedings are commenced. The Letter of Claim must contain certain information, formatted and sent in such as way as the Protocol directs. If the debtor does not respond to the Letter of Claim within 30 days of the date of the letter, the creditor may start court proceedings.

  2. Do one of the following:

       i) enclose an up-to date statement of account for the debt (including details of any interest and administrative or other charges added); or

       ii) enclose the most recent statement of account for the debt and state in the letter of claim the amount of interest incurred and any administrative or other charges imposed since the statement of account was issued, sufficient to bring it up to date; or

       iii) where no statements have been provided for the debt, state in the letter of claim the amount of interest incurred and any administrative or other charges imposed since the debt was incurred.

  3. Enclose a copy of the Information Sheet and the Reply Form; and

  4. Enclose a financial statement form


If the debtors wish to respond they should:


  1. Use the Reply Form for their response and request copies of any documents they wish to see and enclose copies of any documents they consider relevant.

  2. If debtor indicates that they are seeking debt advice, creditor must allow the debtor a reasonable period for the advice to be obtained. The creditor should not start court proceedings less than 30 days from receipt of the completed Reply Form or 30 days from the creditor providing any documents requested by the debtor, whichever is the later.

  3. If the debtor indicates in the Reply Form that they are seeking advice that cannot be obtained within 30 days of their reply, the debtor must provide details to the creditor as specified in the Reply For. The creditor should allow reasonable extra time for the debtor to obtain that advice where it would be reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

  4. If the debtor needs time to pay, the creditor and debtor are required to attempt to reach agreement for the debt to be paid by instalments, based on the debtor’s income and expenditure. If the creditor does not agree to the debtor’s proposal for repayment, they should give the debtor reasons in writing.

  5. It is worth noting that a partially completed or blank Reply Form should be taken by the creditor as an attempt by the debtor to engage with the matter. It if for the creditor to contact the debtor to discuss the Reply Form and obtain further information to fully understand the debtor’s position.

After all of this and disclosure of requested documents and a settlement cannot be reached, the parties are encouraged to resolve the dispute with the use of ADR, without commencing court proceedings. However, if an agreement still cannot be reached the creditor must give the debtor no less than 14 days’ notice of its intention to issue court proceedings (unless the limitation period is about to expire).


If the matter turns litigious, the court will expect the parties to have complied with the Protocol. Non-compliance of such will be taken into consideration when giving directions for the management of further proceedings. Failure to comply with the Protocol may have a severe impact on the creditor and result in:

  1. Further delays in collection of debts if any legal proceedings are stayed to remedy non-compliance with the Protocol;

  2. Additional cost sanctions in regards of payment of the debtor’s legal costs or a failure to cover costs; and

  3. Inability to recover interest from a debtor or recovery at a reduced rate

What does this mean for creditors?

None of the above is good news for creditors. It is clear that the Protocol has increased the onus on businesses in the recovery of debt. In essence the new Protocol will bring about burdensome responsibilities on creditors when the process for recovery of debts comes about.

The additional time and effort demanded by the new Pre-Action Protocol for debt claims requires, from the creditor, a greater degree of diligence and forbearance when recovering outstanding debts. It is an agreeable suggestion to take independent legal advice to safeguard against such repercussions mentioned in this article.

In Summary

Notwithstanding earlier controversies, the Protocol will aid in both the resolution of individual claims between creditors and debtors without litigation and contribute in some way to reducing the civil court claims comprising largely of debt claims against individuals.

In reflection of these changes, if you require any additional information in relation to the implementation of the new Pre-Action Protocol or require any legal assistance please do contact Lewis Nedas for further guidance and advice.


Article by Tia Lim-Watts of Lewis Nedas Commericial and Litigation Department.


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Sexual Harassment allegations - Post Fox News and Weinstein - Some advice..

houses parliament nw080609 2Without a doubt the recent allegations against both Fox News/their employees, and Mr Weinstein, represent a complete watershed in this area of law.

Victims of sexual harassment have become quickly emboldened, supported by campaigns in both social media and the press (see the FTs campaign within the City and finance sector), and are speaking up.

Accusations are coming through quickly and affect every profession, industry, sector, class, gender and community, even Parliament.


The Legal definition

The Equality Act 2010 defines sexual harassment (which is considered to be a form of discrimination) as ‘all unwarranted conduct of a sexual nature or related to sex, which has the purpose or the effect of violating dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment‘.

It is a very wide statutory definition, it covers demands for sexual favours (for promotion or increased salary) touching, sexual assault or bawdy jokes/banter. It applies to a ‘one off’ incident as well as to a course of conduct. It does not have to be aimed at one specific individual, but can cover somebody who overhears the conversation or sees the text/email/physical contact.

Some professions, and the Law is amongst them, favour the ‘lads only‘ approach to client entertainment, or suggest to an employee that they dress ‘particularly attractively‘ or 'flirt', to secure an important client. Certainly, this type of behaviour is rife within the commerce, finance and entertainment business and falls squarely within the definition of sexual harassment.

We are regularly consulted by employers, their HR teams, victims of sexual harassment and those facing such allegations, seeking legal advice.

Let’s take each group separately:


 The Employer/HR personnel

Please understand that Employment Tribunals regard these allegations very seriously and can award large sums as compensation.

Not only may the company end up in an employment tribunal, but perhaps Court.

All employers have an implied duty under the contract of employment to provide a safe, appropriate working environment and to ‘provide redress of grievance‘, failure to do this could result in litigation citing breach of contract, with large damages at stake.

Accept that company cultural change starts at board level, and that change has to be assertively enforced.

Remember also, that the reputation of the company is at stake, so act quickly when the complaint is received.
So, no silly jokes from Management/staff, about how they cannot get away with saying that sort of thing nowadays - the public reaction to thoughtless comments made by certain politicians and entertainers should make it clear that such thinking is now socially unacceptable.

Get your bullying and harassment policies and procedures up to date and have a separate written policy on sexual harassment.

Ensure that every employee and Manager has regular training in this field (it’s a particularly fast moving area of law, and not one to underestimate).

Personnel who are either making the allegations or who are the subject of them, need to know who to turn to, that both sides will receive a fair hearing and the investigation of the allegations will be thorough and fair.

Document every meeting and conversation (remember they may end up being scrutinised in a legal tribunal of one type or another).

The investigations themselves can be quite complex and delicate- the harassment can often be conducted quite subtlety and discreetly. It can also just boil down to one person’s word against another’s.

Both sides have to feel that they are being handled sensitively and impartially, and they have the right to see the allegations, evidence and to respond.

Analyse the allegation and evidence carefully- were they made during working hours on working premises? In the course of the employees duties? Were the emails/texts/tweets made on the firm’s equipment? Are there Data Protection Act consequences to be considered? Does the allegation involve a third party/supplier /sub- contractor (again this area is very fast moving) as Barclays discovered earlier this year, to their cost (they were held liable in the High Court, for the actions of a GP instructed by them, as a third party, to assess the potential employees).

Be very wary of Non Disclosure Agreements - lawyers love them, the public and press do not.

In any event and despite the possibility of draconian consequences if the NDA is breached, as we have recently seen, some victims/complainants have breached them, confident that a company or employer would seriously assess the consequences and the possible, further reputational damage of suing for such a breach.

Employers can no longer just decide to separate the personnel involved, for example move them to a different office, and hope that will suffice. A sensitive, fair, balanced and pro active approach is now required from employers and their HR teams. If in any doubt, contact an experienced lawyer.


The Victim/Complainant

Research undertaken by both the BBC and trade union organisations recently, shows that sexual harassment is pandemic, and that the vast majority of those who have been subject to such harassment, do not complain about it. Most just grit their teeth, smile or even join in, terrified for their jobs and promotion.

The tribunals and courts understand this reaction, particularly when it involves (young) women and men or where English is not the first language.

Firstly, tell somebody - a friend/another colleague/Manager/your union/professional association/Citizens Advice Bureau.

Write all that happened down - preferably as soon as possible after the incident.

Collate as much evidence as you possibly can; every note/email/text/tweet/record of telephone calls/telephone messages. Keep this evidence as safely as you can and in clear, strict chronological order.

See if there are any witnesses to the events/comments- note who was around when the incident happened.

Think about building a strong case to submit with your complaint to your employers. Do not be afraid to speak up to your employer, you may find that you are not the only employee to make such an allegation against a certain employee(s) and co-workers.

Remember, that ordinarily you will have to originate proceedings with the employment tribunal within three months of the allegation. Not every employee is going to be able to afford a lawyer, however some lawyers will assist on a fixed fee basis.


The Accused co-worker/employer/employee

We have been consulted by a number of individuals/companies from the professions, commerce and entertainment worlds, in particular about the possible legal consequences of sexual harassment allegations in the wake of the afore mentioned American scandals.

These include concerns about the possibility of criminal proceedings, reputational management, professional disciplinary proceedings, civil actions and financial penalties.

Additionally, a number have found themselves falsely accused of sexual harassment and are simply terrified of the consequences upon their careers, finances and relationships.

We advise and represent these people and assist them to defend themselves.


How we, at Lewis Nedas Law, can help you

Unusually amongst law firms in England and Wales, we have not only expert specialist employment and discrimination lawyers, but can also call upon our team of highly regarded expert criminal lawyers who can advise not only upon potential criminal proceedings, but also reputational management.

Years of successfully defending sexual allegations, gives us unique insight into the assessment of the evidential value of these allegations of sexual harassment.

We know how to prepare cases and to defend these types of allegations. We can advise upon employment policies and compliance in this field.

We understand the consequences for employees, employers and professionals, in particular those from HR, commerce, the City, finance, sporting and entertainment worlds, having advised and represented these types of individuals and companies for decades.

We do so efficiently and discreetly, instructing the best specialist barristers and experts at reasonable realistic fee levels.


If you require advice, assistance or representation about any of the issues discussed in this article, contact us on 02073872032 or use our enquiry facility at

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