Need a Freezing Injunction

Top Tips

  • Act with speed and surprise
  • Seek urgent legal advice – contact us
  • Notify insurers
  • Assemble a team
  • Limit damage
  • Fact find and gather evidence

Speed and surprise

If you have discovered that your money or assets have been misappropriated, or may have been stolen, you may be able to take control of the situation by commencing civil action to trace and recover the money or assets. It is a common misconception to think that your only form of redress is to refer the matter to the police or action fraud (the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre) and this approach is not always in the best interests of your company, even though care should be taken to comply with any specific obligations to report criminal conduct to the police/relevant authorities.

The primary weapon in your armoury is often to urgently and secretly obtain a civil freezing injunction to stop the fraudster from disposing of your property until judgment can be secured.

If you need a freezing injunction, don’t delay as this could jeopardise the prospect of securing it and ultimately recovering your money and assets.

It is equally important that you shouldn’t do anything which tips off your opponent that you have discovered the fraud (contacting the police may mean that you lose control). Freezing injunctions are typically sought without you providing advance warning to the culprit. This is because giving a defendant notice normally defeats the purpose of the injunction in that they may then seek to get rid of, or deal with, their assets before they are frozen.

Please contact us for more information or if you need legal assistance.

Seek urgent legal advice

This may sound like an advertisement; however, it is generally a good idea to contact us or another specialist firm of solicitors as soon as you suspect that your money and assets may have been misappropriated.

We typically take the lead role in the recovery process and as well as pursuing your opponent and navigating you through the numerous legal issues, we will be responsible for formulating the strategy, carrying out a risk-reward analysis, advising you as to alternative options, managing the relevant experts, dealing with any insurers, gathering/organising evidence and the documents and so on.

In addition, documents that you may create may attract legal privilege and, as such, will not be seen by your opponent.

Please contact us for a free, and no-obligation, conversation.

Notify Insurers

You should check whether the unlawful diversion of your money or assets may be covered by any policy of insurance. There are numerous types of policies that could have relevance in these circumstances such as legal expense insurance, employee fidelity insurance, officers’ insurance, home contents insurance and so on.

It is important that you comply with the requirements under any policy of insurance which often include strict notification requirements. If you fail to notify your insurers by the due date and time, your cover may be jeopardised. Insurance policies can also require you to notify the matter to the police.

We will be happy to act in accordance with your policy of insurance.

Please contact us for more information or if you need advice as to your policy of insurance.

Assemble a team

You should consider assembling a team at the outset to investigate what has happened and to plan your response. The individuals needed to form the team will depend on the facts in question; however, a typical team comprises the following:-

  • Specialist solicitors – contact us
  • Specialist counsel
  • In-house lawyers
  • Senior management
  • Human resources
  • IT managers
  • Internal auditors
  • Other employees
  • PR firm
  • Forensic accountants
  • IT forensic experts
  • A representative from your insurer
  • Private investigators and surveillance experts

All of the officers, employees and agents that you bring in should be independent. It is also sensible to ensure that individuals are selected, and the necessary internal arrangements are made, to ensure that decisions can be made promptly and at the right level.

Please contact us for more information or if you need legal assistance.

Damage Limitation

It is imperative that urgent steps are taken to ‘stop the rot’, limit damage and preserve evidence. The typical practical steps that often need to be taken in addition to seeking freezing injunctions are to:-

  • Revoke rights of authority and access (such as in respect of banking, confidential information and IT systems);
  • Change locks / reprogram access fobs;
  • Change passwords;
  • Inform your bank;
  • Inform any other party relevant to your business so as to preserve your assets;
  • Ensure that evidence is preserved and that it does not get deleted or overwritten on your systems and servers; and
  • Suspend all document destruction policies.

However, you should always consider whether the perpetrator will be ‘tipped off’ by your actions as it could impact on your ability to seek a freezing injunction and to recover the assets.

Please contact us for more information or if you need legal assistance.

Fact find and gather evidence

If you make an application to court for a freezing injunction without providing notice to the culprit you will have a duty to provide the court with full and frank disclosure of all material facts, even if they are not in your favour.

The initial discovery often proves to be ‘the tip of the iceberg’ and, as such, care should be taken to establish both the true extent of the wrongdoing and whether any other individual was involved.

You should put plans in place to preserve and gather evidence, which may be located in numerous difference places such as:-

  • Electronically – for example:- emails; text messages; instant messages; documents on memory sticks, CDs, external hard drives, computers, laptops and servers; spreadsheets; databases; accounting software; metadata (which is often described as ‘data about data’ and hidden); and electronic work diaries etc
  • Hard copy letters; documents; memos; work diaries; minutes; invoices; reports etc.
  • HR records;
  • Internal audit records;
  • Telephone records and recordings;
  • CCTV;
  • Security and access logs; and
  • Archives.

In all the circumstances, you should ensure that the facts are investigated as fully and as quickly as possible prior to any application being made to court for an injunction.

Please contact us for more information or if you need legal assistance.