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Wigg & Co - legal aid for business

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Business people may now be able to claim Legal Aid to defend themselves against investigations by Customs and Excise. Under the Human Rights Act such investigations are deemed to be criminal rather than civil and therefore entitle the Defendant to the "right to a fair trial".

Fair trial provisions mean that where the tax payer is unable to pay for their own legal defence they may be entitled to Legal Aid. See Han and Yaw -v- Commissioners of Customs & Excise in which the Court of Appeal ruled that an investigation into alleged evasion of VAT should be treated as a criminal inquiry and have the benefit of the rights provided by the European Convention on Human Rights previously people who wanted to defend themselves against investigations by Customs & Excise had to pay thousands of pounds.

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