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Impact of Unauthorised Speed Limit Signs

There have been some interesting stories in the press over the last few days about the likely impact of an error in the design of some variable speed limit signs.

The story was first reported by the BBC, which predicts that thousands of speeding convictions may be quashed as a result of the mistake.

Road Traffic Signs Not Conforming to the Law

The signs in question were displayed on two sections of the M42, to the west of Coventry. They were slightly taller and narrower than the requirements set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions – the document that governs the use of variable speed limit signs.

Signs that do not conform to these requirements are only enforceable if they are approved separately by the Department of Transport – and no approval had been obtained. At least, according to the BBC, no approval had been obtained between 2006, when the signs were installed, and November 2012, when the Crown Prosecution Service raised the issue with Warwickshire Police.

This caused the police to stop using the signs as a means of enforcement and drop pending prosecutions relating to them. However, there is a question mark over the validity of the many thousands of speeding convictions that were imposed previously.

Speaking to the BBC, Warwickshire Police’s Gary Hollis said, "Motorists who have already had their cases dealt with by the courts, conditional offers of fixed penalty or speed awareness courses are advised to take independent advice regarding how this affects their individual cases."

The Department of Transport has now approved the use of the variable speed limit signs, and they have been subject to the usual enforcement action since 1 January 2013.

Contact our Motoring Defence Solicitors

Our motoring defence solicitors based in London are specialists in defending speeding charges and challenging speeding convictions and can help you. Please contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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New EU Money Laundering Rules Proposed

The European Commission recently adopted two proposals to reinforce the EU's existing rules on anti-money laundering and fund transfers. The Commission believes that, as the threats associated with money laundering and terrorist financing are constantly evolving, regular updates of the rules are required.

What is money laundering?

Money laundering is defined by HMRC as:

the exchange of “money or assets that were obtained criminally for money or other assets that are 'clean'. The clean money or assets don't have an obvious link with any criminal activity. Money laundering also includes money that's used to fund terrorism, however it's obtained.”

A series of regulations are in force in the UK to deal with money laundering here, and these implement the Third EU Money Laundering Directive.

EU Proposals

The European Commission has been reviewing the Directive, and has now put forward a package of measures to reinforce the current regime. These include:

  • A Directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing;
  • A Regulation on information accompanying transfers of funds to secure "due traceability" of these transfers.

Risk-based approach

According to the Commission, the measures will provide for a more targeted and focused risk-based approach.

In particular, the new Directive:

  • improves clarity and consistency of the rules across the Member States by:
    • providing a clear mechanism for identification of beneficial owners;
    • improving clarity and transparency of the rules on customer due diligence; and
    • and by expanding the provisions dealing with politically exposed persons.
  • extends its scope to address new threats and vulnerabilities by ensuring, for instance, a coverage of the gambling sector (the former directive covered only casinos) and by including an explicit reference to tax crimes.
  • promotes high standards for anti-money laundering by going beyond the Financial Action Task Force requirements. It does this by bringing within its scope all persons dealing in goods or providing services for cash payment of €7,500 or more.
  • strengthens the cooperation between the different national Financial Intelligence Units whose tasks are to receive, analyse and disseminate to competent authorities reports about suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing.

Reinforce sanctioning powers

According to the Commission, the two proposals should reinforce the sanctioning powers of the competent authorities by introducing such things as a set of minimum principle-based rules to strengthen administrative sanctions and a requirement for them to coordinate actions when dealing with cross-border cases.

"Dirty money has no place in our economy, whether it comes from drug deals, the illegal guns trade or trafficking in human beings,” said Home affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. “We must make sure that organised crime cannot launder its funds through the banking system or the gambling sector.”

Money Laundering Lawyers London

For specialist legal advice regarding the new EU money laundering laws or for criminal defence against money laundering charges or investigations, please contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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Freeholders - consult fully or pay the price!

The majority judgement by the Supreme Court in Daejan investments v Benson appears to have modified the previously strict interpretation of S20 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended). Previously, if a freeholder failed to follow proper procedures to consult leaseholders re major works or renovations then the freeholder was at risk of footing the bill.

This is a huge issue for freeholders and leaseholders alike, particularly in London which has many large ageing mansion flats requiring extensive work programmes. It also affects many "right to buy " purchasers who, having bought former local authority properties can find themselves facing massive renovation programmes to which they must contribute.

The Supreme Court has held that S20 should only apply if the leaseholder has suffered actual relevant prejudice, ie the onus will be upon the leaseholder to prove that had they been properly consulted they could have found a cheaper builder or that they are out of pocket as a result of the failure to consult.

This decision will assist the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) to clarify the position when considering an application for dispensation for statutory consultation under s20 and indeed it can be argued that this decision has widened the LVT discretion to grant dispensation in these cases.

If a freeholder is in serious breach of S20, as long as they offer to reduce the overall bill so that it accurately compensates the leaseholder for any prejudice and pay their reasonable costs all is not lost.

However, its wise for freeholders/landlords to consult their leaseholders (tenants) in full or prepare to pay the price.

If you have any similar concerns, either as a freeholder or leaseholder: contact Richard McConnell, Janak Bakrania or our property litigation specialist Jasbir Kaur.

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Former tax association president jailed for tax fraud

In yet another example of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tightening the screw on tax fraud, a former president of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) and a fellow company director were jailed this week for the offence.

According to HMRC, they were both sentenced to eight and half years for a £5 million pension scheme scam.

Andrew Meeson and associate Peter Bradley were both found guilty of the conspiracy, which centred on two pension schemes administered by their company, Tudor Capital Management Limited.

HMRC Tax Repayment Investigation

HMRC investigators found that between June 2007 and March 2010 they received income tax repayments amounting to £5 million. The two claimed that this was the refund due on £20 million of contributions that pension scheme members had made. The investigators found these contributions did not exist.

“This was blatant theft from the UK economy by people who exploited their positions of trust and authority,” said Simon De Kayne, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC. “This prosecution reinforces our effectiveness in the crackdown to uncover and bring before the courts those involved in tax evasion and fraud.”

Confiscation proceedings to reclaim the crime profits are now underway.

Contact our tax fraud defence solicitors

For specialist legal advice for tax fraud investigations, please contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032.

This blog is intended as a news item only. No connection between Lewis Nedas Law and parties to the case is implied.


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Crash for cash death accused imprisoned

In the first ever case of its type in the UK, five people last month received prison sentences for their parts in a series of road traffic accidents, caused by a ‘crash for cash’ scheme, which resulted in the death of an innocent motorist.

Four of the accused had deliberately engineered a collision involving four vehicles, two of which were innocent of involvement in the conspiracy. The intention was to commit a type of insurance fraud, commonly known as a ‘crash for cash’ scheme.

A second collision occurred as a result of the first and it was in that collision that Miss Baljinder Kaur Gill was killed.

Death by Dangerous Driving and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud

Of the four involved in the crash for cash scheme: one was jailed for 10 years for causing death by dangerous driving and conspiracy to commit fraud; two were jailed for ten years and three months each, for causing death by dangerous driving, conspiracy to commit fraud and committing acts tending to pervert the course of justice; and the fourth was jailed for twelve months for committing acts tending to pervert the course of justice.

The fifth accused was not involved in the ’crash for cash’ scheme. He was the driver of the vehicle involved in the second collision, which killed Miss Gill, and he was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment for causing death by careless driving.

"The crash for cash culture has become more prevalent in our society, but this is the first known fatality as a result of an induced crash,” said Sergeant James Upton, from the Thames Valley Police, following sentencing. “Today's sentences should serve as a warning that there are severe consequences to those who commit this crime.”

Contact our motoring defence solicitors in London

For specialist criminal defence for motoring offences in London, please click here to read more or contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032.

This blog is intended as a news item only. No connection between Lewis Nedas Law and parties to the case is implied.

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