Open Court

The President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, has called for a public debate on the question of opening up the Court of Protection to public scrutiny. In an interview with the Guardian, he said “The decision about opening up the court is very fraught and people have very strong views. My entirely personal view is that provided we can protect the confidentiality of litigants and their families, there is no reason we can’t hear the cases in the presence of the media”.

Civil recovery

A ruling by the Supreme Court has boosted the powers of enforcement agencies to recover the proceeds of crime. In Gale & Ors v Soca, the Serious Organised Crime Agency successfully argued it could apply the civil ‘balance of probabilities’ rather than the criminal ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ burden of proof when bringing a civil recovery order.

Mr. Gale had been found not guilty of drug trafficking in Portugal but there was no link between the Portuguese proceedings and the English civil proceedings and in the absence of such a link there was no reason in principle why confiscation should not be based on evidence which satisfied the civil standard of proof, notwithstanding that such evidence had proved insufficiently compelling to found a conviction on the criminal standard.

Bad News for Tax Exiles

Robert Gaines-Cooper, a Seychelles-based billionaire, has lost his long-running legal dispute over his tax residency status. The Supreme Court held that Gaines-Cooper is resident in the UK for tax purposes despite the fact he never spends more than 91 days a year in the UK.

The Supreme Court also held that on the proper construction of the guidance relating to residence, ‘the ordinarily sophisticated taxpayer’ had to leave the UK permanently, indefinitely or for full time employment; he had to do more than to take up residence abroad; and he had to relinquish his usual residence in the UK. Any subsequent returns to this country had to be no more than visits and any property retained by him in this country had to be used for visits and not as a place of residence.