In the Media

Partners fined for tax avoidance advice

PUBLISHED October 6, 2014

Two former partners at a north Yorkshire firm have each been fined £15,000 over their role in stamp duty land tax avoidance schemes.

Richard Chan and Rajob Ali, partners at former Harrogate firm Abode Solicitors, operated the scheme for house buyers and advised them through their own separate Seychelles-based business, which took a commission.

A Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found the two had not acted in the best interests of clients, not provided a proper standard of service, failed to act in a way that maintains the trust the public has in solicitors and the provision of legal services, failed to run their business effectively and failed to protect client money and assets.

In total they were found liable for 20 breaches of solicitor rules, including acting where there was a conflict of interest.

However the tribunal found that the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which brought the case, had not proved the pair acted without integrity or allowed their independence to be compromised.

The firm was closed by the SRA in October 2013. Chan and Ali will be jointly liable for the costs of the tribunal, which have yet to be agreed.

Meanwhile, the Legal Ombudsman has confirmed it is investigating a number of complaints about stamp duty land tax avoidance schemes.

The complaints service is concerned that some schemes may not be offering the savings they promise.

Those who have used a scheme may have its validity challenged by HM Revenue and Customs. If it finds a scheme invalid clients could end up paying the correct tax due, plus interest and a fine.

The ombudsman advised consumers concerned about the advice given by their lawyer to bring a complaint to the lawyer first and then to the ombudsman service if the issue cannot be resolved.

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