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Recent judicial review challenges to HMRC search warrants

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Several recent judicial review cases have resulted in search warrants obtained by HMRC being quashed and the searches executed pursuant to the warrants being declared unlawful. While some of HMRC’s failures might have been caused by errors in drafting the warrants, the material misleading of the Crown Court judge by HMRC in order to obtain the warrants which occurred in Hart raises more profound concerns. HMRC needs to exercise more care when applying for search and seizure warrants, and it should temper the ‘win at all cost’ attitude that increasingly seems to affect its approach to tax investigations.

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