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MAR
20

Details of the 2013 Budget – by Siobhain Egan

Details of the 2013 Budget are just being announced as I write this. The fundamental theme would appear to be tax. Not just the promised cut in corporation tax which is supposed to promote growth in 2015, but also an increase in the personal allowance to £10,000. All of this is positive.

However, the Chancellor would appear to have decided that tax avoidance, often described by this government as “aggressive", and tax evasion are now one and the same. He intends to name and shame those companies and firms that construct and promote tax avoidance schemes, create a centre of excellence to clamp down on tax avoidance and fraud, close tax loopholes, and form new agreements with the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. The list goes on and on.

We know that the UK has signed reciprocal agreements with the US and Switzerland regarding the exchange of information relating to the ownership and details of offshore monies; we know that accountants and lawyers specialising in tax avoidance work and schemes have been scrutinised by HMRC.

However tax avoidance is not illegal, far from it. Tax evasion is illegal. What this government has done, following the American example, is to blur avoidance and evasion until they are indistinguishable and intend to frighten the life out of those who create, and are party to, legitimate avoidance schemes. Legitimate, that is until HMRC gets around to declaring them null and void.

Expect a whole series of disclosure facility agreements with the Channel Isles (the Isle of Man facility is already in force) and high profile arrests and search/seizures of accountancy and law firms this year.

If you have any concerns regarding the above contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan.

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MAR
19

False Rape & Domestic Violence Allegations

The first ever study by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) into so-called false allegations of rape and domestic violence was published last week by Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The report, which examines a 17-month period, shows that false allegations of rape and domestic violence are perhaps more rare than previously thought, and that in only a very small number of cases was it considered that there was sufficient evidence and that it was in the public interest to prosecute a person suspected of making a false allegation of rape or domestic violence.

This publication is part of a wider programme of work for the CPS to improve its handling of cases involving violence against women and girls.

"Victims of rape and domestic violence must not be deterred from reporting the abuse they have suffered. In recent years we have worked hard to dispel the damaging myths and stereotypes that are associated with these cases,” said Mr Starmer. “One such misplaced belief is that false allegations of rape and domestic violence are rife. This report presents a more accurate picture.”

The DPP published new legal guidance on perverting the course of justice in July 2011 and, for a period of 17 months, required CPS areas to refer all cases involving an allegedly false allegation of rape, domestic violence or both to him to consider.

During the period covered by the report, there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape but only 35 for making false allegations of rape. There were 111,891 prosecutions for domestic violence, but only six for making false allegations of domestic violence. There were a further three people charged with making false allegations of both rape and domestic violence.

The report also shed light on the context within which false allegations were made. According to Mr Starmer, a significant number of these cases involved young, often vulnerable people, and sometimes even children.

“Around half of the cases involved people aged 21 and under, and some involved people with mental health difficulties,” he said. “From the cases we have analysed, the indication is that it is therefore extremely rare that a suspect deliberately makes a false allegation of rape or domestic violence purely out of malice. It is within this context that the issue should be viewed, so that myths and stereotypes around these cases are not able to take hold."

Contact our sexual offence defence solicitors in London

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

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MAR
18

Eddie Stobart Law - Tony Meisels in the 'London Advocate'

Eddie Stobart. A name synonymous with haulage, lorry spotters and a cheesy reality television series on Channel 5. Now they have moved into providing legal advice by putting members of the public in contact with learned counsel.

The “Stobart Barrister” website suggests that there is no point using a solicitor when you can “deal with a barrister direct”. Solicitors, the site says, are like family GPs, whose expertise is general, rather than specialist. Someone ought to tell them that, these days, very few solicitors dabble in different areas of law. With all the hurdles we have to overcome in a highly regulated profession, we have all tended to become specialists in our chosen field.

Research conducted by the Judicial Studies Board in 2010 indicated that the largest individual category of work among the firms surveyed was the conduct of criminal litigation on its own.

Stobart Website

Returning to the Eddie Stobart website, click on 'bail applications', where it says, “You normally have just one bail application at the magistrates’ court and one before a Crown Court judge”. Perhaps the Bail Act doesn’t apply to them.

And when Johnny is refused bail, who deals with his girlfriend? Or his property? I wonder if counsel will go unaccompanied to see Johnny in the Scrubs. I doubt they even know how to book a visit, let alone provide advice on arranging visits to the client’s family.

Next, the testimonial on the website, about a case of failing to provide a specimen. Reading this left me confused – and I am a solicitor. According to the testimonial, this lady was advised by a solicitor that she didn’t have a defence. Then a barrister came along, said she had a defence in law and proceeded to have a “full day trial involving a Newton hearing”. Err? Now I am really confused. So I guess she did plead guilty, after all? I rather doubt it was a Newton, far more likely to have been a “special reasons” argument.

Direct Access

Eddie Stobart Barristers is not a ProcureCo and was not established in response to the passing of the Legal Services Act 2011. Instead, they utilise the “direct access” provisions introduced in 2004, although their arrangements are unusual, in that paralegal support is actually provided by Eddie Stobart Services. Both the Co-op and BT have launched similar services. Saga, Direct Line and the AA are believed to be considering similar moves.

I think readers of The Advocate will agree with me that solicitors are not afraid of competition or new ways of working. Take, for example, the influx of barristers onto the duty solicitor schemes. But we are opposed to dumbing down, particularly in an area of law where repercussions for the individual concerned can be so serious. We also feel the public should be fully informed when taking decisions about legal representation. There is no mention on the website of an entitlement to legal aid in criminal proceedings, nor of the fact that private representation in the Crown Court no longer results in an award of costs out of central funds if the defendant is not convicted.

What is Needed in Criminal Litigation

Criticism of the Eddie Stobart model has come from a (perhaps) surprising quarter. Michael Turner QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, recently gave a speech suggesting that such schemes prioritise profit over quality and lamenting the demise of many traditional solicitors. Some areas of the law may lend themselves to direct access. Alternatively, a client may require advice on a specific issue. But Criminal litigation requires the expertise of a solicitor who will prepare the case thoroughly. Arguably, the job is more than half done when the advocate arrives at court: the matter is prepared and the advocate now has the ammunition to win the case. Like the best retailers, solicitors also offer an “after sale service” and perhaps we should emphasise that more in our dealings with clients. And many readers of The Advocate will have client relationships going back, in some instances, decades and, again, we should perhaps be promoting this continuity.

The Stobart Barrister website trumpets access to an extensive national panel of barristers – including QCs. Instead of spotting those ubiquitous green lorries, now we can spot m’learned counsel around the courts – they will be easily identified by their green robes and perhaps customised green wigs. Maybe they will have names such as Gladys and Genevieve!  Meanwhile, my firm is exploring the possibility of diversifying into international haulage.

This article is reproduced by the kind persmission of the London Advocate. It was originally featured in the London Advocate Magazine.

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MAR
18

Eight of our Solicitors featured in 'Superlawyers'!

No fewer than eight of our solicitors have been listed by Superlawyers, the web's leading lawyer review site.

Superlawyers UK has listed Laura Saunsbury as one of the leading lawyers in London for Firearm Licensing Law and firearms criminal defence

Siobhain Egan has been hailed as one of London's best lawyers in the areas of Tax, Fraud and Crime. Jeffrey Lewis, Miles Herman, Penny Muir and Keith Wood have been ranked among the best in their field in their specialist areas of business law, crime, fraud and tax fraud.

Layna Thompson and Unan Choudhury have also been labelled as 'rising stars' by Superlawyers.

Being ranked by Superlawyers means that the eight individuals listed are regarded as being within the top 5% of lawyers in London.

Congratulations to all!

If you would like to contact any of our top-ranked London solicitors, click here to get in touch.

 

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MAR
18

Jeffrey Lewis interview in March 2013 ''Lawyer monthly' on UK tax fraud.

Our partner, Jeffrey Lewis, has again been asked by the Lawyer Monthly magazine to give his thoughts on a topic which is very much in the public eye, this time the topic of tax fraud. Jeffrey gives some insight into UK tax law and how HMRC prosecutes tax fraud, as well as some advice on what to do if you are prosecuted for tax fraud.

Jeffrey's interview is evidence of Lewis Nedas Law's strong reputation in the area of tax fraud defence and tax law in general. If you are looking for UK tax law advice, click here to get in touch.

The interview can be read in full here: Jeffrey Lews interview in the Lawyer Monthly

 

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