Archive for April, 2014

Autistic Litigant Received a Fair Hearing

In the context of a case in which an autistic son challenged his father’s will, the Court of Appeal has given important guidance on the steps that should be taken to ensure that vulnerable litigants in person receive a fair hearing. The son had been cut out of his father’s will in favour of his brother and had accused the latter of fraud and bringing undue influence to bear. Those allegations were dismissed by a judge, who upheld the validity of the will. The son suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome and associated cognitive, social and communication difficulties and had initially been represented by the Official Solicitor, acting as his litigation friend. However, his legal aid funding was later withdrawn and the Official Solicitor had been unwilling to continue to act for him. An issue therefore arose as to whether the son had the ... Read more

Tax Avoidance Investigation Spans the Globe

In a telling example of tax avoidance investigations spanning the globe, the High Court has sanctioned the seizure of documents from a UK accountancy firm in connection with inquiries by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The ATO had requested the assistance of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) under the Double Tax Convention between the UK and Australia. The ATO was investigating a series of complex arrangements involving companies and other entities in the UK and elsewhere which were believed to be beneficially owned by Australian residents and used to avoid tax. The sum at stake was said to be tax on income of Australian Dollars 230 million. In response to the ATO’s request, HMRC invoked investigatory powers under the Finance Act 2008 and sought disclosure of documents from the accountancy firm in respect of 24 companies. The firm was said to ... Read more

Divorcee Pays Price of Pointless Litigation

In a case which vividly revealed that litigation is almost always a far worse option than compromise, most of an ex-couple’s modest marital assets – just £42,000 – were eaten up by a sterile jurisdictional debate that could benefit neither of them. Following the couple’s separation after 35 years of marriage, a judge had ordered equal division of their assets. The husband paid his wife £21,000 but went on to successfully challenge the order after arguing that the judge had no jurisdiction to make it. That was on the basis that no decree nisi had been pronounced at the time of the decision due to the difficulty in finding the couple’s marriage certificate. In upholding the wife’s appeal against that decision, the High Court found that the judge did in fact have jurisdiction. Although he had given an indication as to ... Read more

Callous Grandson Stripped of Power of Attorney

In a case which starkly revealed that vulnerable old people cannot always rely on their nearest and dearest, the callous daughter and grandson of a dementia sufferer have been stripped of lasting powers of attorney in respect of her finances and welfare after substantial sums were plundered from her bank account. The confused 81-year-old woman, who lived in a care home, received £245-a-week in state benefits and occupational pension; however, almost every penny had been whisked away by her grandson to fund his business and lifestyle. His mother had colluded with him in his emotional and financial abuse of the old lady. The grandmother had no computer but an online bank account had been opened in her name which was regularly milked by her grandson, who used it to pay his own grocery and gas bills, as well as subscriptions to ... Read more
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