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Criminal law classification thwarts appeal

In Panesar v HMRC [2014] EWCA 1613 the Court of Appeal heard an application for leave to appeal against a decision of the High Court dismissing a claim for judicial review of the decision of the Central Criminal Court to permit HMRC to retain material seized under search warrants which were subsequently quashed. The material had been originally seized under warrants pursuant to an allegation into substantial tax fraud. The application to retain the material was made and granted under section 59 Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 a provision described by Burnett LJ as: "designed to avoid the necessity of returning material with one hand only to take it away again". In fact, the Court of Appeal did not decide the merits of the appeal as it held it had no jurisdiction to do so. The route of appeal from the decision of the High Court in any "criminal cause or matter" actually lies to the Supreme Court. Burnett LJ said: "section 59 is concerned with what should happen to property which has been seized by the use or purported use of powers which exist in aid of criminal investigations. It envisages applications by a person with a relevant interest in the property, or by the person having seized it, either seeking its return or its retention". Thus, the proceedings being criminal in nature the proper route of appeal is to the Supreme Court.


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