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John Binns

“He is an excellent lawyer who is easy to work with. He is creative in his approach to find the best solution for his clients.”

Chambers UK

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 2), 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, 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 knows the law inside out and sees the bigger picture. He works on high-end, complicated, multinational matters.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“He is an excellent lawyer who is easy to work with. He is creative in his approach to find the best solution for his clients.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“He knows his way around an HMRC criminal investigation and appreciates the differences of HMRC’s approach to other law enforcement agencies.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“He understands POCA backwards and is hugely practical.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“He has sound judgement and he’s both technical and easy to get on with.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“John is very quick to respond to the client regardless of the time of day.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“His client handling skills are incredible.”

Chambers UK, 2022

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

The Legal 500, 2022

Articles by John Binns

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