James Dennison

Year of Call: 1986

"James Dennison continues to be very active as a prosecutor in proceeds of crime cases. He specialises in asset forfeiture including confiscation, restraint and receivership proceedings. He has a forensic brain and understands the complexities behind international cases. He takes a very practical approach that pays dividends."

Chambers UK Bar

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Overview

James Dennison was called to the Bar in 1986 after graduating from Durham University and practices from 5 St Andrew's Hill, London, having moved there from 2 Dr. Johnson's Buildings in January 2016. With over 17 years experience prosecuting in the field of confiscation and asset recovery he is recognised by the Court of Appeal as being an expert in the area; he has written the chapters on Restraint Orders and Enforcement in the 2013 edition of the seminal work, Millington & Sutherland-Williams on the Proceeds of Crime, published by the Oxford University Press in September 2013. He is regularly instructed on Level 4 cases by the Proceeds of Crime Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service and is a Grade "A" prosecutor for the Serious Fraud Office. He undertakes major fraud trials, drug importation, serious violence and the whole range of criminal cases for the CPS as well as local authorities.

James is a committee member of The Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association.

"He is very well organised and tactically astute."

"James Dennison is the prosecutor's choice."

Chambers and Partners 2017.

Additional Information

Regularly instructed by:

  • CPS Central Fraud Group
  • The Crown Prosecution Service
  • The National Crime Agency
  • The Serious Fraud Office
  • HM Revenue and Customs
  • All of the above on behalf of foreign governments

Also instructed by:

  • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Medicines Control Agency (MHRA)
  • Numerous firms of receivers
  • Various other public bodies (including police and local councils)

Asset Recovery, Civil Fraud & Confiscation

In 1999 James became involved in the field of confiscation and asset recovery. He has since specialised in the field and has become a recognised expert with over 75 reported cases.

This has involved pursuing the assets of those suspected or convicted of high level fraud (including Tax, Carousel / MTIC, Advance fee, Ponzi, Black Dollars and Mortgage), corruption, tax evasion, money laundering and drug trafficking.

The specialism has involved regularly gaining restraint orders and receivership orders in the High Court and litigating against not only defendants but also third party companies, individuals, trustees and creditors pursuing an interest in restrained property.

It has also involved advising on evidence and presenting cases for confiscation hearings; opposing challenges to confiscation and ancillary orders in the High Court and Court of Appeal (both civil and criminal divisions) and bringing or opposing applications to vary such orders in the High Court and Crown Courts.

James has regularly acted in cases of non-compliance with orders. In addition to receivership applications he appears in cases involving contempt proceedings, means enquiries and enforcement of default sentences. He has acted in many Judicial Reviews in the High Court emanating from enforcement proceedings including the leading case of Hansford on the impositionof interest to a confiscation order.

Cash seizures are an additional, and integral, part of his practice.

International

James has acted on behalf of both foreign governments and overseas individuals in order to protect, recover and expatriate UK-based assets; foreign jurisdictions assisted include the United States of America, the Republic of South Africa, Spain, France, Greece and Australia.

He has also assisted in recovering assets placed overseas by UK-based criminals in areas including Spain, France, Greece, Liechtenstein, Vietnam, Australia, the Caribbean islands, Sweden, Switzerland, Dubai and India. This involves reviewing and drafting letters of request, police/police enquiries as well as investigating overseas transactions.

In 2012 he was invited by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (on behalf of the Eastern Caribbean Financial Investigation Advisory Team) to present a six day practical training course to High Court Judges and magistrates in and around the Eastern Caribbean on money laundering, confiscation and cash seizure. This he did, becoming well-versed in the laws of the various countries involved (Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and St Christopher and Nevis) in the process; some of the local newspaper reports may be accessed here.

At a reception to mark the occasion, at the British High Commission in Bridgetown, he presented the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Barbados with the authoritative 121 page Judicial Bench Book which he had co-authored.

Business Crime

Crime

Since starting practice in 1986 James has prosecuted nearly every offence in the criminal calendar. His criminal practice has included major fraud trials, drugs importations, serious violence and sexual abuse cases. 

He is also frequently instructed to act as LPP (legal professional privilege) counsel and has acted in that capacity in, for example, the high-profile case of R v Harry Redknapp & Milan Mandaric.

Professional Discipline & Regulatory

Regulatory work includes the prosecution of those involved in trademark and ancillary offences, as well as breaches of regulations involving the welfare / transport of live animals.

Cases of Note

CONFISCATION AND ASSET FORFEITURE - CROWN COURT CASES

Terry Adams

Advising, and dealing with, the restraint proceedings against Terry Adams.

Operation Elemi

An eight-handed MTIC and money-laundering case, ultimately leading to confiscation orders in excess of £10M.

Operation Duma

A seven-handed MTIC and money-laundering case, ultimately leading to confiscation orders in excess of £8M.

R v Bostock

77 breaches of a restraint order; 18 months imprisonment imposed.

R v Julie Wall

A thief who diverted stolen goods towards purchasing Elvis Presley memorabilia.

R v D

Iraqui sanctions-busting case. Allegations of supplying weapons, ammunition and military armoured vehicles to Iraq. Value of weapons and ammunition approximately USD $6 million, and armoured vehicles in excess of USD $7 million. Restraint Order achieved.

Operation E

nine-handed MTIC case involving VAT diversion of some £250,000,000. Restraint Order achieved.

Whiteway-Wilkinson

London Fields brewer.

Gor

£1M benefit from "scam" college involving the financial exploitation abuse of overseas students.

Op Kyrenia

Multi-million NHS fraud.

Gimigliano

High-value, nationwide, money-laundering.

CONFISCATION AND ASSET FORFEITURE - COURT OF APPEAL / HIGH COURT CASES

Malakasuka [2011] EWCA Crim 2477

Appeal refused where it was shown that M was attempting to rely on (false) documentation to dispute ownership of assets in Tanzania.

Peacock [2010] EWCA Civ 1465

First instance decision by HHJ Slinger that a confiscation order could be uplifted to take account of after-acquired assets with no limitation of time held to be correct. Subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Rooney [2010] EWCA Crim 2

Judge in confiscation proceedings, when assessing the benefit that a defendant had derived from his involvement in an importation of cannabis, had been entitled to infer that all the conspirators had obtained a benefit from their criminal conduct, and in the absence of any specific evidence to the contrary he had been entitled to make an equal division of the benefit; Crown's subsequent application to raise confiscation order to £627,975 (full amount of benefit) also upheld.

Re B [2009] EWHC 421 (Admin)

Where reasonable steps had been taken to contact defendants who had absconded, being neither convicted no acquitted, confiscation orders in relation to drug trafficking could be made against them in their absence.

Hansford [2008] EWHC 67 (Admin)

Magistrates' court had no discretion as to whether interest was to be paid on sums unpaid under such a confiscation order.

Hackett [2007] EWCA Crim 2638

Burden of rebutting the statutory assumptions contained in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.72AA(4) and lay with the defendant even if a decision was made not to call the defendant to give evidence.

Nazham [2005] EWHC 2982 (Admin)

Court had the power, when appointing an enforcement receiver, to order that his remuneration be paid under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.81(1) or the Drug Trafficking Act 1994 s.30(2).

Re P [2005] EWHC 877 (Admin)

An application for a certificate of inadequacy under s.83(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 was not to be used as a device to appeal against the original finding that an item of property was realisable property.

Saggar [2005] EWCA Civ 174

Where the state had granted to itself the right to reopen the issue of confiscation under the Drug Trafficking Act 1994 s.16 then the reasonable time requirement under the Human Rights Act 1998 Sch.1 Part I Art.6(1) extended throughout the period starting from the original proceedings, and not only from the institution of the s.16 application. However the question of whether there had been any breach of the reasonable time requirement should be considered by the Crown Court, rather than the High Court.

Re Barnes [2004] EWHC 2620 (Admin)

Court's power to vary a restraint order had to be exercised with a view to securing the full realisation of the realisable property, so far as necessary to secure the full satisfaction of the confiscation order.

R. v Haisman, Miller & Lant; [2003] EWCA Crim 2246

Whether before passing sentence, the sentencing judge had failed to take a judicial decision, or to make such decision manifest, that the determination in the confiscation proceedings proposed by the Crown should be postponed until after the sentencing process, as required by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.72A . Appeal dismissed.

Piacentini v Dayman [2003]; EWHC 113 (Admin)

Whether, and if so to what extent, a receiver is liable to capital gains tax and/or income tax.

R v Terence Croft (2001)

In order to discharge the burden of proof to dislodge the statutory assumptions under the Drug Trafficking Act 1994, some evidence must be adduced before the court, not merely bald and unsupported assertions made by the defendant himself.

R v Thorne

Thus far defeated an application for a certificate of inadequacy as well as an attempt to overturn the order in the Court of Appeal; the latter involved cross-examining four witnesses, one via video link from Dubai. Their evidence was held by the CACD to be "absurd" and "demonstrably dishonest".

CONFISCATION AND ASSET FORFEITURE - INTERNATIONAL

Tsekoura - Greece

High-level alleged corruption / money laundering on a massive scale; the amounts involved figures running into the tens of millions of Euros. In excess of £1.4M restrained in the UK.

Elmaleh - France

£1.5M restrained in UK for French authorities.

Dowling & Jones - Vietnam

Retrieval of assets in UK when defendants have fled abroad.

Tune - Vietnam

Retrieval of assets in UK when defendant had fled abroad.

Finch - RSA

Retrieval of assets from RSA, including proceeds from a nightclub. UK defendant.

Baker

Breaking of a trust fund in Liechtenstein & subsequent asset-sharing negotiations.

Mayer

Advising on the inter-play between UK confiscatory regime and French divorce law.

Martinez - Spain

Restraint of circa €18,000,000 of assets in the UK on behalf of the Spanish Government.

Harnisch - Australia

Registration of external confiscation order in the sum of £185,000.

Operation D

Letters of request collated / drafted to Dutch Antilles (10), Sweden (2), Dubai (3), Switzerland (5), Spain (2) and Cyprus (1).

Op Macon

Australian revenue fraud.

CRIME

R v Bates, Wood & Boca (Op Kernel)

The importation of 14M cigarettes into the UK.

R v Elahie

Trial involving the possession and use of false passports.

R v O'Shea & O'Shea

Section 18 GBH with intent following a night of cocaine and alcohol abuse.

R v Read

Gross abuse of trust by a person holding power of attorney over the affairs of an incapacitated elderly lady.

R v Smythe

Supply of Class "A" drugs.

R v Benwara & others

Conspiracy to defraud.

R v Saglam

Threats to kill.

R v Sibthorpe

VAT fraud.

R v Gordon

VAT fraud.

REGULATORY

R v Sure Seal, King & King

Family-run business involved in nationwide allegations of sub-standard home repairs.

R v L and 3 others

Case arising out of the allegedly unsafe transportation of large amounts of live animals.

R v H & 5 others

Alleged internet-based high-volume sellers of counterfeit goods across the South-East of England

R v P

Allegations of false and unscrupulous methods designed to dupe householders into purchasing unauthorised home alarms

R v S

Enforcement of largest confiscation order achieved by a local council (£3.3M)following trademark offences at retail premises in Kent.

R v Knight & Smith

Rogue Traders scam.

R v Keith Martin

Estate agent illegally removing deposits from the Deposit Protection Scheme.