New law to target “corrupt lawyers” who help criminals


Taking a cut

Taking a cut: New law would be combined with tougher confiscation rules

“Corrupt lawyers” who help who organised crime gangs and hide behind a “veneer of respectability” will be targeted by a new offence, the Home Office announced yesterday.

It is understood that the offence of “participation in an organised crime group” will feature in a serious crime bill in today’s Queens Speech. Those convicted face up to five years behind bars and further civil measures.

“Nobody is above the law,” said Karen Bradley, minister for modern slavery and organised crime. “But for too long corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals have tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability.

“This new offence sends out a clear message to those individuals – if you are helping to oil the wheels of organised crime, you will be prosecuted and face being jailed.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said that while the UK had “one of the world’s most effective regimes for ensuring criminals do not profit from crime”, £1.48bn was outstanding in unpaid confiscation orders.

The single biggest outstanding amount was over £57m, including interest, resulting from an order granted in 2007 and being enforced by the Serious Fraud Office.

As a result, the Home Office said it was introducing tougher asset seizure powers and sanctions, including increasing prison sentences for failing to pay, ending early release if criminals fail to co-operate and reducing the maximum time to pay orders from 12 to six months.

The Home Office released a set of real, anonymised case studies showing how the new measures could work, none of them involving corrupt lawyers.

In one of them, members of an organised crime gang were convicted of importing drugs from Holland in 2013. Associates, such a man who hired vans for the group, could have been prosecuted under the new participation offence if he had reasonable grounds for suspecting that he was helping the group.

In another case, a man who acted as courier for a gang, carrying Class A drugs, could have been prosecuted.

 

 

Tags:




    Readers Comments

  • MR K Stanborough says:

    Lets hope this will send a message to Legal Expense Insurance Companies who utilise their own in house solicitors / panel solicitors and then utilise hook or crook tactics to manipulate a claim to their own advantage.

    No longer will they be able to get away with saying ” we are not aware”


Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Reports

No larger firm can ignore the demands of innovation – that was the clear message from our most recent roundtable: “The law firm of the future”, sponsored by LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions. It comes in many forms, predominantly but not just technology, and is not simply a case of automating process. Expertise and process are not mutually exclusive.

Blog

11 September 2018

Legal marketing lessons from Ed Sheeran

Anyone starting a new law firm or starting out on their legal career could take several lessons from Ed Sheeran’s approach to promoting himself.

Read More