Hughes Fowler Carruthers

The English court has very wide powers to order the freezing of assets anywhere in the world. Such an order is a powerful weapon in the armoury of the court.

The party seeking a freezing order must have evidence that there is a real and imminent risk that assets will be dissipated or distanced, thereby prejudicing the applicant and potentially defeating that party’s claim in the financial remedy proceedings.

The application for a freezing order may be made on notice to the other party, or without notice if there is great urgency or if it is felt that by giving the other party warning he or she may seek to dissipate the assets.

The application will be accompanied by a statement from the applicant setting out clearly and candidly the reasons why the injunction is sought, and the applicant is required to undertake to pay damages to the respondent and any third parties for any losses incurred by them as a result of the injunction, should the court later decide that that is appropriate.

These applications are usually made to a judge who sits every day to hear urgent matters. Once the order is made, the court will fix another hearing at which the respondent to the application will have an opportunity to seek to have the order overturned or replaced with undertakings. The order may be served on third parties, such as banks, in order to prevent any imminent transfer of money. If the assets are abroad, then advice will need to be sought from local lawyers as to whether the local court will recognise the English freezing order or whether a mirror order should be obtained in that jurisdiction.

These orders can be draconian in their effect and can only be applied for with good reason. If, however, such an order is necessary, then time is of the essence and it is important to act very quickly. Hughes Fowler Carruthers has many years of experience of obtaining freezing orders, including orders relating to assets overseas.

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