Acquittal of a solicitor charged with second limb fraudulent trading

Published: 14th December 2023

Adam Kane KC secured the acquittal of a solicitor charged with second limb fraudulent trading following 11 weeks of evidence at trial in Leeds. The defendant was acquitted at the direction of the Judge at the close of the prosecution case. This was a retrial of a case that had been discharged after 6 weeks of evidence in 2022 after jury researches.

The case involved the alleged mis-selling, on a boiler-room model, of wealth protection schemes designed to avoid liability for claw-back of local authority funded residential care home fees. The solicitor and his partner were alleged to have traded fraudulently by providing ‘execution-only’ legal services drafting and registering trusts and lasting powers of attorney to service companies unregulated by Legal Services Act, who made guarantees of their efficacy when cold-calling and home visiting member of the public.

The case is one of the National Trading Standards cases prosecuted  by York City Council. Nina Grahame KC has been involved in challenges in the Court of Appeal to Trading Standards’ approach to prosecuting cases of this type and complexity in other proceedings in which she and m co-defend.

In the current case, the approach of Trading Standards to criticism of the scheme as a £5.3 million fraud was highly controversial, TS relying on the opinion evidence of a practising solicitor as expert evidence of the law of estate planning and regulatory good practise. Multiple complainants were put before the jury inconsistently with the evidence of ‘whistle-blower’ sales-staff as to the basis on which they bought the trust deeds.

Following the rulings at half-time, other defendants were acquitted when the Prosecution offered no evidence against the remaining defendants.  Adam, leading Michael Lavery, was instructed by Sarah Housley at Cunningham’s, Manchester.