Barrister Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood

Year of call: 1996  


“A respected jury advocate known for her experience of lengthy, complex, high value fraud and money laundering cases”



Sarah is an experienced and highly accomplished practitioner who specialises in criminal and family matters involving high value assets and complex financial arrangements. In her criminal work, she is a well respected jury advocate known for her experience of prosecuting and defending lengthy, complex, high value fraud and money laundering cases. Sarah has a loyal following of leading solicitors and is regularly instructed to defend in cases brought by the SFO, the FCA and CPS Central Fraud Division. She is renowned for her ability to master substantial and multifaceted issues.

Sarah has experience in all aspects of the financial proceedings that follow a divorce or separation; her knowledge and experience of international asset-tracing and complex offshore trust arrangements gained through her criminal work gives her a distinct advantage in this area of work.

She is one of a handful of Counsel at the Bar with experience of dealing with cases where there are contemporaneous proceedings in the criminal and family courts in relation to the same assets, and is therefore able to advise clients and appear in all aspects of both sets of proceedings.

Sarah speaks and writes regularly on her areas of expertise and is public access trained.

Child & Family Complex Fraud Crime Offshore & International Sport

Child & Family

Sarah is frequently instructed to advise on and appear in financial proceedings following a divorce or separation. She has deep knowledge and experience of complex trust arrangements, TOLATA claims and the impact of bankruptcy in relation to one of the parties to the proceedings. She is known for her diligent preparation in these cases and for ensuring that her client has a full appreciation of the legal and factual issues involved.

Sarah is one of a handful of Counsel at the Bar with experience of dealing with cases where there are contemporaneous family financial proceedings and criminal POCA claims. She has unrivalled experience of being able to advise and represent clients in both sets of proceedings, ensuring consistency and an all encompassing overview of the case. Sarah frequently appears in both the High Court and the County Court in this area of work and is regularly instructed to act on behalf of the CPS as the intervener in the family proceedings.

Sarah is public access trained and is able to take instructions directly in relation to this area of her work.


  • Family Law Bar Association

Child & Family Cases

  • M v M (with the CPS intervening): Sarah was involved in prosecuting one of the parties to these proceedings in a significant high value money laundering case. She was then instructed to appear on behalf of the CPS in the complex family proceedings in the High Court in order to ensure the preservation of assets that were the subject of a restraint and subsequent confiscation order.
  • K v K (with the CPS intervening): Sarah was instructed on behalf of the husband in this case who was the subject of a confiscation order the CPS were seeking to enforce by way of a receivership order. A three day hearing took place in the family proceedings in order to establish the wife’s knowledge of the husband’s criminality at the time.

Complex Fraud

Sarah has specialised in complex fraud and financial crime since 2000. She is widely recognised and highly regarded for her work in this area having prosecuted and defended in several important cases brought by the SFO, the FCA and the CPS Central Fraud Division. She is on the CPS list of specialist Counsel to prosecute fraud cases and is regularly instructed by the CPS Central Fraud Division to advise pre-charge. As both a leading counsel and led junior, Sarah is known for her diligence and meticulous preparation of these cases. She is adept at handling cases involving a large volume of paperwork and is quickly able to identify the critical issues for both a jury and a client.

Sarah’s knowledge and experience includes cases involving Ponzi frauds, money laundering, fraudulent trading and fraud within both the construction and education industries. She also has particular experience of successfully defending clients in prosecutions for specific and technical offences brought under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

Sarah has a detailed knowledge of restraint and confiscation proceedings with experience in this area in the Appellate Courts, the High Court and the Crown Court. She is well placed to advise clients about all aspects of these proceedings and has particular experience of dealing with cases where there are contemporaneous POCA and family proceedings.

Sarah is regularly instructed to advise on complex disclosure issues, having advised the SFO, the Metropolitan Police, the Attorney Generals of Jersey and of the Isle of Man and the OFT on disclosure problems and legal professional privilege.

Sarah speaks and writes regularly on her areas of expertise and is the author of the chapter ‘Fraudulent Trading and other frauds on creditors’ in Butterworths “Fraud: Law, Practice and Procedure”.


  • Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Previous Chair of Young Fraud Lawyers Association

Complex Fraud Cases

  • R v Chopra & Others: Defence Counsel in a large scale trademark offence conspiracy and associated money laundering.
  • R v Sanganee (2014): Defence Counsel in a land bank fraud.
  • R v Choudhury (2013): Defence Counsel for one of Crimestoppers most wanted fraudsters.
  • R v Meghrabi (2013): Junior Prosecution Counsel of a large scale money laundering operation through bureaux de change.
  • R v Cole & Another (2012): Defence Counsel for an accountant alleged to have conspired with an employee of HMRC.
  • R v Harris & Others (2010): Junior Defence Counsel for lead Defendant in lengthy trial alleging conspiracy to defraud against the directors of a building company.
  • R v Smallman & Others [2010] EWCA Crim 548: One of a series of seven nationwide prosecutions against different defendants alleging fraud arising out of the collapse of the Government ILA scheme. Sarah acted as junior prosecution Counsel on five of the seven trials.
  • R v De Rome & Others (2009): Acted as junior Prosecution Counsel in successful SFO prosecution for a $30 million Ponzi fraud.
  • R v Cushnie & Clough [2005] EWCA Crim 962: Junior Defence Counsel for Mr Clough in the SFO prosecution arising out of the multimillion pound collapse of the Versailles Group.


Sarah has been involved in a number of cases involving homicide and serious organised crime throughout her career, with notable experience in cases concerning the large scale importation of drugs and she is on the CPS list of approved Counsel.

Sarah has also built a particular criminal practice in prosecuting cases brought on behalf of the RSPCA. She is regularly instructed in these cases and has developed a niche specialism within this area, ensuring that she is able to deal with the complicated veterinary expert evidence that is often adduced in these cases.

She also specialises in representing defendants across the whole spectrum of road traffic offences, including those that result in death or serious injury.


  • Criminal Bar Association

Offshore & International

Sarah has been instructed on behalf of both the Attorney General of Jersey and of the Isle of Man to advise on and prepare prosecutions concerning allegations of fraud and money laundering. In doing so, she has worked with the prosecuting authorities and the police in both jurisdictions to ensure that the cases were ready for trial. She has gained a deep knowledge and understanding of the applicable laws of those jurisdictions in relation to disclosure and evidence, as well as the offences themselves.

Sarah has also been instructed to advise the Attorney General of Jersey in connection with disclosure issues surrounding legal professional privilege.

As part of her role as junior counsel on a number of large and complex SFO prosecutions, Sarah has significant experience in drafting and considering Letters of Request to foreign jurisdictions.


Sarah has been advising the board of a major UK car club on all of their legal matters since 2011 on a pro bono basis. This work has been diverse and has included advising on and drafting the sponsorship contracts for their motorsport arm; assisting in the re-writing and interpretation of the club’s articles and advising the directors on their fiduciary duties. Her work earned her the award of ‘Member of the Year’ for 2012.

Sarah writes and speaks on all areas of her work, including an article published within the club magazine about the recent high profile insurance case involving the Octane magazine journalist Mark Hales entitled ‘Is this the end of Independent Journalism?’.

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How to get in touch

For more information please contact our clerks by calling +44 (0) 20 7242 3555 or email:

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