Butler v United Kingdom: ECHR 27 Jun 2002

A substantial confiscation order was made with respect to money seized from the applicant on the ground that customs officers believed the money was directly or indirectly the proceeds of drugs trafficking and/or was intended for use in drug trafficking. The applicant contended that a court, when considering whether to make a forfeiture order in the circumstances at issue, ‘must effectively be asking itself whether the individual concerned was planning at some future stage to use the funds in question for drug-related activity’. The Court declared the application inadmissible. Criminal charges have not been brought against the applicant, nor against any other party. The applicant contended that the forfeiture of his money in reality represented a severe criminal sanction, handed down in the absence of procedural guarantees afforded to him under Article 6 of the Convention, in particular his right to be presumed innocent. The Court did not accept that view. The forfeiture was a preventive measure not to be compared to a criminal sanction, since it was designed to take out of circulation money which was presumed to be bound up with the international trade in illicit drugs. The proceedings which led to the making of the order did not involve the determination of a criminal charge.


Application No 41661/98, Unreported, 27 June 2002


Drug Trafficking Act 1994 43(1), European Convention on Human Rights 6

Cited by:

CitedGora and others v Commissioners of Customs and Excise and others CA 11-Apr-2003
The appellants challenged decisions of the VAT and Duties Tribunal after seizure of their goods, and in particular whether the cases had been criminal or civil cases and following Roth, whether the respondent’s policy had been lawful and . .
CitedGale and Another v Serious Organised Crime Agency SC 26-Oct-2011
Civil recovery orders had been made against the applicant. He had been accused and acquitted of drug trafficking allegations in Europe, but the judge had been persuaded that he had no proper explanation for the accumulation of his wealth, and had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Crime

Updated: 28 April 2022; Ref: scu.181000