In Newcastle United Football Club Ltd and Ors v HMRC [2017] EWHC 2402 (Admin), the High Court considered a judicial review of HMRC’s decision to apply for search and seizure warrants.

  • To be able to (legally) force entry to premises and remove documents, HMRC needs a warrant under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
  • To issue a warrant, a circuit judge needs to be convinced there are reasonable grounds to believe there is likely to be relevant evidence on the premises.
  • The route to challenge this finding is judicial review. If the challenge was successful, HMRC would not have been permitted to make use of the documents seized.

HMRC applied for the warrants in question, among others, on 19 April 2017 and they were granted on 20 April 2017.

On 26 April 2017, HMRC raided a number of premises linked with Newcastle United (NU) and other football clubs. See HMRC tackles football transfer fees

NU contended that the warrants were not valid on five grounds:

  • They were too wide
  • No reasonable grounds to suspect NU was engaged in the tax fraud
  • Other methods of getting the documents were available
  • HMRC’s disclosure to get the warrant was inaccurate and incomplete
  • The application procedure was inadequate

The High Court held that

  • while the procedure before the circuit judge could have been improved upon, it was not deficient enough to cast doubts on the warrant
  • the substantive challenges were rejected

Comment

Given that NU only challenged the Warrants in relation to three locations, and not the eight others HMRC also searched, it seems likely that HMRC will be pursuing the tax evasion case in due course.

Links:

Newcastle United Football Club Ltd and Ors v HMRC [2017] EWHC 2402 (Admin)


 

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