Tax fraud barrister loses appeal against confiscation order

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7 May 2015


Andrews J: “no question” of former barrister being unable to pay

Michael Stannard, a former barrister convicted of cheating the public revenue of over £3m, has failed in his latest attempt to challenge a confiscation order made against him.

Mr Stannard, who moved to Switzerland after his jail term, is currently in contempt of court for failing to co-operate with the Enforcement Receiver. He was jailed for four and a half years in 2001, and all his appeals were dismissed.

Mrs Justice Andrews said there was “no question” of Mr Stannard being unable to pay the balance of the confiscation order, which stands at £1.16m, as “on his own admission” he is living in a property, a flat in Verbier, worth more than that.

“There is no need for the court to grant declaratory relief, especially to someone who is in contempt of court, so as to confirm what he already knows but is patently unwilling to accept,” Andrews J said.

“He has fought tooth and nail to avoid paying anything, and made life as difficult as possible for the Enforcement Receiver, with the result that there is still such a substantial amount outstanding ten and a half years after the generous deadline set for payment.”

Andrews J said she had “formed the clear impression” that Mr Stannard was “wholly unrepentant”.

She went on: “In reality he is still doing his level best to avoid making any further payment, to go behind decisions unfavourable to him that have already been made by the court and which he has not appealed, to re-run arguments he has already lost, and to put the CPS and the Enforcement Receiver to as much further trouble and expense as possible, presumably in the hope that they will give up and go away.

“He has coupled this behaviour with unfounded criticisms of the Enforcement Receiver, who on the evidence before me has simply done what the court has directed him to do.”

The court heard in Re In the Matter of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 [2015] EWHC 1199 (Admin), that Mr Stannard’s flat in Verbier, “said to be his only remaining asset of value”, was estimated by him in a letter in March 2012 to be worth £1,456,000 at the prevailing exchange rates.

He was represented in court by Mark Hardy, who described himself in the application as a ‘litigation friend’, which Andrews J said was inaccurate.

Instead, using her discretion, she allowed him to address the court as a McKenzie Friend. However, she said: “Mr Hardy’s interests are plainly best served by Mr Stannard ceasing to be obstructive, and as he is not a lawyer, he would not necessarily appreciate the difference between an argument that is likely to fail, and an argument that cannot properly be advanced.

“That is why it suited Mr Stannard’s interests to make use of Mr Hardy as his mouthpiece.”

Andrews J said that Mr Stannard’s application, apparently to find out how much of the confiscation order he still had to pay, was “in reality” an attempt to challenge the amount of his confiscation order and argue about the Enforcement Receiver’s remuneration. She dismissed the application on all grounds.

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