Partner

John Binns

“John Binns has an encyclopaedic knowledge of proceeds of crime law with a clear-eyed view of its practical application.”

Chambers UK, 2024

John Binns is a specialist in proceeds of crime laws, cannabis regulation, sanctions, and tax investigations. He has extensive experience in financial crime, which also involves bribery and corruption, extradition, Interpol, fraud, market abuse, and the conduct of related civil proceedings. He is a prolific writer and speaker on a variety of topics.

Proceeds of crime

John is highly ranked for his expertise in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) (Chambers UK Band 1), and regularly advises both corporate and individual clients on:

  • liability for money laundering offences;
  • when and how to seek consent (also called a Defence Against Money Laundering, or DAML) by making a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency (NCA);
  • responsibilities of the regulated sector, under POCA, the Terrorism Act 2000, and money laundering regulations (MLRs); and
  • how to deal with assets and transactions that are subject to a moratorium or otherwise frozen under POCA.

He also regularly advises on various other aspects of POCA, including:

  • Account Freezing and Forfeiture Orders (AFFOs);
  • seizure, detention and forfeiture of cash and listed assets;
  • confiscation and restraint orders;
  • production orders and disclosure notices; and
  • Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs).

Cannabis

John’s cannabis practice involves advising clients on:

  • obtaining controlled drug licences from the Home Office’s Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit (DFLU) to deal with cannabis in the UK;
  • POCA aspects of investments in overseas cannabis businesses;
  • regulatory issues arising in the context of applications to list on the LSE or AIM; and
  • seizures of products, including by Border Force at the point of importation.

Sanctions

John has noted expertise in international financial sanctions (Chambers UK Band 2), having helped clients to:

  • understand and comply with sanctions laws, including reporting obligations;
  • assess and prepare for the risks of being designated in the UK;
  • obtain licences in the UK to deal with frozen assets;
  • respond to investigations into suspected breaches; and
  • bring challenges in the courts, both domestic (High Court, Court of Appeal) and international (General Court, Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)).

Tax

John is also highly ranked for his expertise in contentious tax matters (Chambers UK Band 2), which includes:

  • representing corporate and individual clients in connection with HMRC investigations;
  • dealing with overlaps between HMRC’s civil procedures and risks under the criminal law; and
  • advice on the corporate criminal offences under the Criminal Finances Act 2017 of failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.

Financial crime

John has experience in dealing with a broad range of matters relating to financial crime, including:

  • defending major international cases involving allegations of bribery and corruption;
  • bringing successful challenges to extradition attempts and Interpol red notices on the basis of political motivation;
  • responding to investigations and other risks arising from suspected fraud (including MTIC, Ponzi, and crypto-related frauds);
  • representing clients accused of market abuse, including cartel behaviour (price-fixing) and market manipulation; and
  • bringing and defending civil proceedings (including judicial review, contempt of court, applications under the Insolvency Act, malicious prosecution claims, disciplinary proceedings, and others) where criminal-regulatory issues are engaged.

Writing and speaking

John is a prolific writer and speaker on a variety of topics, having:

  • given oral evidence to select committees of the House of Lords during the Brexit process on the future prospects for EU-UK cooperation in criminal justice ;
  • been interviewed on BBC television and radio programmes, discussing matters relating to money laundering and financial crime;
  • given presentations at events hosted by (among others) the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime, University College London, the Red Lion Lectures at King’s College London, and the University of Bristol;
  • presented webinars and written practice notes for LexisNexis and others on topics including Brexit, coronavirus detention powers, bribery and corruption, money laundering, and sanctions;
  • chaired panels for the Anti-Money Laundering Professionals (AMLP) Forum, the Global Sanctions Forum, and the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association (POCLA); and
  • written extensively on legal topics for various publications, including the Times, City AM, and the Law Society Gazette.

Career

John studied LLB Law at King’s College London and MPhil Criminology at the University of Cambridge. He qualified in 2000, joined BCL in 2010, and became a partner there in 2017.

Publications

Professional Memberships

  • Anti-Money Laundering Professionals (AMLP) Forum
  • Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers (ARDL)
  • Fraud Lawyers Association (FLA)
  • Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association (POCLA) (committee member)
  • Sanctions Practitioners Group
  • Tax Investigations Practitioners Group
  • The Law Society

What the directories have said:

“John’s level of service consistently exceeded my expectations in terms of responsiveness, thoroughness and attention to detail. His commitment to clear communication was evident in every interaction.”

Chambers UK, 2024

John was able to distil difficult concepts into clear and concise advice, making it easier for me to make informed decisions.

Chambers UK, 2024

He demonstrates a deep understanding of the issues at hand, and his approach to navigating the complexities is both thoughtful and strategic.

Chambers UK, 2024

John anticipates potential challenges and proactively devises strategies to address them. He thoughtfully considers the broader implications of the legal issues at hand, ensuring that the solutions proposed are not only effective for the immediate situation but also beneficial for the long term.

Chambers UK, 2024

John is a technical lawyer who knows sanctions inside out.

Chambers UK, 2024

John has excellent tactical judgement and is cool under pressure.

Chambers UK, 2024

John is exactly the person we needed advising on the matters at hand. His knowledge of his subject, his commitment to us as his client and his understanding of our needs were very impressive.

Chambers UK, 2024

“I’m working with a very high-profile individual, which has been complicated and the client handling side has been very difficult. John has been very good at this and is at the centre of dealing with all parties and dealing with difficult clients. He’s been on top of all of the litigation and making sure it’s been going smoothly. He is very measured, calm and efficient.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“He knows POCA inside out and is very switched on to the short-term and the long-term aspects and how they can hang over clients for years or decades. He knows how to approach POCA-type cases to draw a line under the clients for them when needed. He is very experienced in terms of how these things play out. Furthermore, he is really switched on and thoughtful. He thinks outside the box and comes up with different strategies, so he’s very pragmatic. He was instrumental in my case. He was also very good at providing cost-effective input. I didn’t think he was doing more than he needed to. Furthermore, he delegated to the appropriate level, which gave the client a really good and cost-effective service. In that sense, he takes his responsibility as a professional really seriously in terms of looking after his clients and doing the right thing by them. He’s a very decent and honest person.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“He is immensely helpful and is just superb. He’s also very commercial and I’ve seen how much people rely on him and trust his advice. He’s very good.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“John is hugely impressive and very diligent. He is also good with clients and is everything you could possibly want. I couldn’t give him a higher recommendation.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“He is a very skilled negotiator. He will pick away at his opponent and keeps going where other men and women would give up.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“John Binns is clever and an expert in money laundering law.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“John was brilliant on a matter, and I couldn’t say enough good things about him.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“John Binns is hugely impressive – very diligent, good with clients and everything you could possibly want. I couldn’t give him a higher recommendation.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“He is an excellent lawyer and easy to work with. He is creative in his approach to finding the best solution for his client.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“He’s very measured, calm and efficient.”

Chambers UK, 2023

“John Binns… is praised for his ‘sound, commercial advice’… [and] has notable sanctions expertise”

The Legal 500, 2022

Articles by John Binns