Paul O’Donnell represented Mohammed Mehdi Ali in confiscation proceedings before Harrow Crown Court following Mr. Ali’s convictions for offences under the Housing Act 2004 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The proceedings were sent to Harrow Crown Court pursuant to s.70 of PoCA 2002. The agreed sum of £739,263.58 was certified by HHJ Wood sitting at Harrow Crown Court on 12 February 2021. The order, described by the prosecuting Council as “the largest such order for a planning breach made anywhere in the country…”, represents an enormous reduction of more than 83% from the position advanced by the Council in the proceedings. At its height, the Council sought to prosecute a figure of £4,432,092.26. Any analysis of this case and the resulting order (see links below) that omits to refer to Court of Protection issues and/or the making of a single order as among the defendants is partial.
This case is significant as another example of the targeting of high net worth private landlords for enforcement and planning breaches by prosecuting authorities in order to open the door to confiscation proceedings and application of the assumptions in s.10 of PoCA 2002, rather than pursuing available civil remedies. Mr O’Donnell recently addressed this issue as junior counsel in a landmark Judicial Review case in which Mr. O’Donnell and Imran Khan QC challenged the interpretation of enforcement and planning offences as strict liability offences, in part by reference to the implications of confiscation proceedings arising from such convictions. An application, prepared by Mr. O’Donnell is presently before the ECtHR.
Further coverage of this matter can be found here: