Freezing Orders Under the Victorian Confiscation Act

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Funds Subject to Freezing OrdersIf you are suspected or about to be charged with certain criminal offences, police can apply to freeze your bank account so that you cannot access or dispose of funds. This is done with a view to eventually taking those funds away from you.

What Are Freezing Orders?

Freezing Orders, or as they are sometimes known, “Mareva Orders” are short-term orders that prevent you from being able to deal with your funds so that you cannot get rid of them prior to a subsequent order being made to restrain or otherwise deprive you of your property. If a Freezing Order is made on your account with a financial institution, you will not be able to withdraw, transfer or otherwise access funds while the order is in place.

How do they work?

Freezing orders will prevent you from being able to deal with any funds in respect of any frozen account. This includes money deposited after the order itself was made. They are applied for when someone is alleged to have committed or be about to commit an offence specified in the Confiscation Act, which includes but is not limited to all serious drug offences. The application for such orders is normally by police and will be heard in your absence so that you do not know that you are about to be prevented from dealing with your funds.

What is the law that allows this to happen?

Part 2A of the Confiscation Act 1997 (Vic) contains the provisions that allow for and govern the operation of Freezing Orders.

Time limits in relation to Freezing Orders

Freezing Orders are short-term orders that end 3 days after they are made, or alternatively when another kind of order is made to restrain your access to that property, which will be either a Restraining Order or Civil Forfeiture Restraining Order. If an application for one of those two orders has been made but not yet determined, the Court may also decide to extend the Freezing Order beyond the initial three-day period.

Practical Tips

  • A bank is not permitted to tell you that a Freezing Order is in place. If you think a Freezing Order may have been made on your account, speak to a lawyer right away to determine the most appropriate steps to be taken in relation to any charges that may be laid or future orders that could permanently deprive you of your funds.
  • If your account is frozen, redirect any future funds in order not to be prevented from accessing them.

Do I need a lawyer?

A bank will not confirm for you that a freezing order has been made and applied to your account. If you think that your assets may have been frozen, call us right away on (03) 9670 5111 for a free initial consultation and advice. You may be about to be charged with a serious criminal offence.

A lawyer will also be able to discuss steps available to you to prevent you losing access to your property on a permanent basis through the imposition of a later, subsequent order.
Date Published: 8 June 2022

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