Court Process

Whether summons to Court or appearing at Court on bail after being charged with HMRC offences, the case then proceeds in the Magistrates Court or is sent to the Crown Court depending on the charges.

Magistrates Court

These courts are the lower criminal courts and deal with lower values of evasion of duty or tax evasion cases. A District Judge presides at these hearings and trial. There is no jury. The process is quite rapid and requires only a minimal disclosure of evidence.

Sentencing powers in the Magistrates Court are limited (12 months)

Crown Court

HMRC offences which include a conspiracy charge are sent to the Crown Court usually by reference to the seriousness of the offence and the amount of duty or tax alleged to be evaded by a false declaration or other means. The Crown Court process requires a full disclosure of the evidence, putting HMRC prosecutors to proof on statements, exhibits, computer material, interviews.

The defence have the right to apply to dismiss charges where "there is no evidence upon which a Jury, properly directed, could convict".

The process of the Crown Court means that on a not guilty plea the case proceeds to a trial by Jury. Usually, HMRC offences and tax crimes involve prosecution proving dishonesty or intent to gain illegitimately which is judged objectively by a Jury.

National statistics show that the chances of acquittal at the Crown Court are 50% to 60% better than proceedings in the Magistrates Court before a single District Judge.


When HMRC prosecutors proceeding to trial means that HMRC prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed the HMRC offence or the tax crime.

Defences to HMRC prosecutions involve calling expert forensic accountants to give expert evidence to challenge HMRC prosecutors and HMRC investigators.

The issue is usually that a defendant has deliberately (intentionally) evaded paying a tax or duty by false declaration, false accounting or by operating a scheme for evasion of duty such as in a carousel fraud see VAT fraud, see carousel fraud, see income tax/corporation tax fraud.

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