Procedural guidance in serious fraud cases
Regina v Quillan and others  EWCA 538 concerned a prosecution appeal against the dismissal of charges alleging conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to cheat following submissions of no case at ‘half-time’. The judgment of a senior Court of Appeal, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, is notable for its procedural guidance on complex questions of law arising out of prosecutions for serious fraud. The case itself involved a prosecution arising out an HMRC investigation into two pension schemes. In essence, the allegation was that the schemes were a “sham” designed to extract income tax relief at source (RAS) from HMRC. The trial judge ruled there was no case to answer on the particulars alleged on the subject counts on the indictment and this ruling was upheld on the basis of virtually the same reasoning by the Court of Appeal. In giving its judgment the Court said: “criminal proceedings are burdensome for all involved, particularly witnesses, jurors and other members of the public who become embroiled in them. In addition, such prosecutions are a very considerable burden on public finances; a misconceived prosecution is therefore a very serious matter”. It went on to emphasise the importance of preparatory hearings in cases of serious and complex fraud and in this case: “the argument which took place at the conclusion of the prosecution case should have been conducted within a preparatory hearing under Part III of the 1996 Act”.
Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.