David Sleight, Partner in our Criminal Litigation team has been quoted in The Times giving his thoughts on MP's demand for action against lawyers and advisors who facilitate tax avoidance.
Such a dramatic change in law is likely to cause confusion, but is unlikely to achieve the desired results."
Tax evasion is already by definition a criminal offence while tax avoidance is not - and the 2004 Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes regime exists to identify potentially unlawful mechanisms."
The whole process is predicted on there being grey areas that will need to be interpreted by HMRC, or ultimately a tax tribunal. The overwhelmed criminal justice system is not the place to be resolving whether these complex schemes will work."
The taxman's prosecution rate has been woeful - no new law is going to change this without a significant shift in terms of culture and resourcing."
About the author
David Sleight is a Partner in the criminal litigation team who regularly acts for individuals and companies in high profile cases, and specialises in providing advice at the crucial early stages of an investigation. He acts for companies and individuals accused of complex financial investigations involving fraud, overseas corruption and mutual legal assistance (MLA). He specialises in defending tax evasion/fraud allegations brought by HMRC and has developed a specialist expertise in advising in cross border tax litigation involving MLA requests between Member States.