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The Court of Appeal provides guidance on the meaning of ‘sham’

Those familiar with disputes involving HMRC will know that a word popular in the lexicon of HMRC hyperbole is ‘sham’. Usually bandied about at initial meetings and in correspondence rarely does it materialise in pleadings and only occasionally does it turn up in oral submissions. When it does it usually does so vaguely before limping quietly away. A recent decision of the Court of Appeal illustrates how sham can become shambles if used without care.

R v Quillan and others [2015] EWCA Crim 538 concerned the criminal prosecution of six individuals who had set up and promoted pension schemes with the Crown alleged the dishonest intent of obtaining income tax relief by recycling the same money through a sophisticated loan and repayment mechanism. In summary an investor borrowed money from an off-shore loan company...

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