Industry News

Solicitors suspended for promoting stamp duty avoidance

Thursday, 28 April, 2016

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) (England and Wales) has had two Harrogate solicitors suspended for three years for running tax avoidance schemes.

The solicitors, Richard Chan and Rajob Ali, operated various stamp duty land tax (SDLT) avoidance schemes for house buyers. They advised clients on the avoidance scheme through their own separate Seychelles-based business, which took a commission.

The SRA closed their firm, Abode, in October 2013, and then brought a prosecution against them at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). The following year the SDT found the pair liable for 20 breaches of the Code of Conduct, mostly technical breaches of ethics. They were originally fined GBP15,000 plus costs.

The SRA appealed the penalty as too lenient, and managed to persuade the Divisional Court that the case should be re-heard at the SDT on charges of lack of integrity, acting where there was a conflict of interest, and taking part in 'dubious' transactions.

On 21 April this year the SDT re-heard the case. It sentenced the two solicitors to be barred from practising for three years, though the suspension was backdated to September 2015. It also ordered a further GBP5,500 of costs against them.

  • The SRA's stern action against the two solicitors has at least partly been prompted by HM Revenue & Customs' campaigns against SDLT avoidance schemes. The regulator warned solicitors as early as 2012 that there was a risk of serious consequences if they did not comply with professional principles while promoting or facilitating such schemes.

Sources

  • SRA
  • SRA (2012 Warning notice re: SDLT schemes)

Subscribe to news digests

News Search