Regina v Dickens: CACD 11 Apr 1990

The defendant had been convicted of conspiring to import cannabis, and made subject inter alia to a confiscation order.
Held: ‘ the object of the Act is to ensure, so far as is possible, that the convicted drug trafficker is parted from the proceeds of any drug trafficking which he has carried out. The provisions are intentionally Draconian. Since the amount of those proceeds and the size of his realisable assets at the time of conviction are likely to be peculiarly within the defendant’s knowledge, it is not surprising perhaps if evidential burdens are cast upon him of a kind which are, to say the least, unusual in the area of the criminal law and this, despite the fact that the confiscation order and the penalties for failing to comply with it may be rigorous.’
However, the burden was on the Crown to prove according to the criminal standard that the defendant had benefitted from drug trafficking and what the value of his proceeds of drug trafficking was. Lord Lane CJ said: ‘It is clear . . that where the prosecution statement is not accepted by the defendant, the prosecution, if they wish to rely on any of its contents, must adduce evidence to establish them.
The judge then hears the evidence on either side and reaches his conclusion (1) as to whether the defendant has successfully rebutted any provisional assumptions under section 2; (2) as to the existence of any benefit from drug trafficking; and (3) as to the value of such benefit.’


Lord Lane LCJ, Judge, Roch JJ


[1990] 2 QB 102, [1990] EWCA Crim 4, (1990) 154 JP 979, [1990] 2 WLR 1384, [1990] 2 All ER 626, (1990) 12 Cr App R (S) 191, (1990) 91 Cr App R 164, [1990] Crim LR 603




Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Cain HL 1985
The sentencing judge had exceeded his powers by making a criminal bankruptcy order. S40 appeared to deny a right of appeal against such an order.
Held: There is a strong presumption that except by specific provision the legislature will not . .

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Rose CACD 17-Feb-1993
A judge must follow the Regina v Dickens guidelines when making a drugs confiscation order. Alliott J said: ‘We agree that if admissible evidence satisfies a judge so that he is sure that any given sum is a benefit, then there is no need for him to . .
CitedRegina v Levin CACD 29-Jan-2004
The defendant appealed against a confiscation order, challenging the standard of proof applied by the judge.
Held: The judge was entitled to include in his consideration, the evidence given at the trial as well as that on the confiscation . .
CitedMay, Regina v HL 14-May-2008
The defendant had been convicted of involvement in a substantial VAT fraud, and made subject to a confiscation order. He was made subject to a confiscation order in respect of the amounts lost to the fraud where he was involved, but argued that the . .
CitedSilcock and Another, Regina v CACD 29-Jan-2004
The defendants had been found guilty of conspiracy to deliver counterfeit notes. They now appealed against sentence and confiscation orders. The notes were high quality and denomination dollar notes, with probable total face values of many millions. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 10 June 2022; Ref: scu.193766