Tax schemes back in the hot seat – BCL Partner, Harry Travers talks to The Times

Tax schemes back in the hot seat – BCL Partner, Harry Travers talks to The Times

Tax wars have broken out again between politicians and professional advisers over the murky legal distinctions between avoidance and evasion. BCL partner, Harry Travers speaks to Jonathan Ames at The Times about the proposals from a paper produced by a cross-party parliamentary group on anti-corruption and responsible tax.

Here’s a short extract from the article, which can be read in full here or on The Times website*:

‘Harry Travers, a partner at BCL Solicitors, is also concerned about the proposals. He argues that removing the requirement to prove dishonesty from the offence of common law cheat, or conspiracy to cheat, “would be a huge step with far-reaching consequences possibly in other areas of the criminal law”.

Lawyers say that even the whiff of a criminal investigation can severely damage careers. “But the idea that one can be guilty of tax fraud or cheating without being dishonest is funda- mentally misconceived,” Travers says. “The need for the prosecution to prove dishonesty is a crucial safeguard for an accused, and should not be removed.”

Experts have predicted “chaos” in the backlogged courts if the “double-reasonableness” test is imposed.

“It would be hugely difficult for a jury to apply it,” Travers argues. “If the Crown are going to prove tax fraud, they should have to prove dishonesty. Anything else is a knee-jerk reaction, which could cause serious injustice.”’

*This article was originally published by The Times on 23/07/20.

Harry Travers is a partner at BCL, specialising in business crime. He has had an involvement in numerous high profile commercial fraud and corruption investigations conducted by the Serious Fraud Office including ENRC, BAT, Serco, Balli Steel, Standard Bank, GPT/Airbus, Innospec, Libor, BAE and GP Noble. He was also inducted into the Legal 500 “Hall of Fame” in 2018, which recognises partners who are “at the pinnacle of the profession”.