L A W R E P O R T S Confiscation order breached rights
Welch v United Kingdom. European Court of Human Rights. 9 February 1995.
Wednesday 22 February 1995
Article 7.1 of the Convention provided that no one should be subject to a heavier penalty than that which was applicable at the time the offence was committed.
The court held that the confiscation order, under which Mr Welch was to pay £66,914 or face an additional two-year term of imprisonment in default, amounted to a "penalty" within Article 7.1 since it was dependant on a criminal conviction.
Looking at the realities of the situation, it was a more far-reaching detriment than that to which he was exposed at the time he committed the offences.
The court stressed, however, that its conclusion only concerned the retrospective application of the 1986 Act, and did not call into question the powers of confiscation conferred on the court as a weapon in the fight against the scourge of drug trafficking.
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