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Superior Import/Export and others v HMRC

In Superior Import/Export and others v HMRC [2017] EWHC 3172 (11 December 2017) the High Court found that search warrants executed by HMRC had been unlawful.

HMRC had carried on a criminal investigation in relation to large scale excise duty evasion and the subsequent laundering of the criminal funds generated. The total tax loss to HMRC since April 2010 was estimated at over £440m.

The appellants were challenging the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court decision to grant three search warrants under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 s 8 following an application by HMRC. The appellants also challenged the lawfulness of the execution of the warrants by HMRC.

The court rejected the appellants’ contentions that the warrants were too wide and that there had been excessive searching. It observed however that the warrants allowed HMRC to search for material its officers deemed relevant. The warrants thus ‘impermissibly...

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