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UK victims

Interactive decision tree

Interactive decision tree

Please use our interactive tool to understand more about the criminal and civil justice systems and how the two systems can interact. It outlines the main steps, and has been specifically created with the individuals and smaller business victim in mind.

Please carefully read about the main differences between the criminal and civil justice systems before using the decision tree.

Civil proceedings


A claim form must normally be served on a defendant within four months of the claim form being issued. Generally, the claim form is served on the defendant’s solicitors where they have confirmed they are able to accept the service.

If the claim has been issued through Money Claim Online then the claim form will be sent to the defendant at the address provided.

Separate rules apply for service carried out outside the UK jurisdiction, and a claim form must normally be served on a defendant within six months of the claim form being issued.

Between the start of proceedings and any trial it can be possible to apply for one or more extremely powerful and effective interim measures against a fraudster.





Freezing injunction

Freezing injunctions can be imposed at both the High Court and County Court level. They act to restrain the defendant from either removing assets from the jurisdiction or from dealing with any assets worldwide.

In order to obtain the injunction the claimant must have:

  • a good arguable case;
  • sufficient evidence about the existence and location of assets which the injunction would affect; and
  • evidence that there is a real risk the defendant will dissipate the assets before judgment can be obtained and enforced.

Search orders

Search orders can be imposed in cases at the High Court (generally only those claims in excess of £100,000). Search orders permit the claimant’s agents to enter the defendant’s premises and to carry out a search for evidence and to seize certain items.

In order to obtain the order the claimant must:

  • have a strong case;
  • show that serious harm or injustice will be suffered if the order isn’t made;
  • show clear evidence that the defendants have relevant documents or property;
  • show there is a real possibility that the defendant might destroy or remove the relevant items; and
  • show that the harm likely to be caused by the order to the defendant or his business must not be excessive or out of proportion to the legitimate object of the order.

To be effective, these ordersmust be made without the defendant’s knowledge. This places a special requirement on the claimant to undertake full and frank disclosure (ie, to put all relevant facts before the court and raise counter arguments on the defendant’s behalf).

The court will also require cross-undertakings for damages. This is an undertaking by which the claimant promises to pay compensation to the defendant if the claimant fails to win the overall case. The claimant must show that they have sufficient assets to make this undertaking and may have to provide security to the court.