Revenue and Customs v Crossman, Court of Appeal - Chancery Division, July 06, 2007, [2007] EWHC 1585 (Ch),[2008] 1 All ER 483

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Revenue and Customs v Crossman, Court of Appeal - Chancery Division, July 06, 2007, [2007] EWHC 1585 (Ch),[2008] 1 All ER 483

Neutral Citation Number: [2007] EWHC 1585 (Ch)

Case No: 449 of 2006

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

CHANCERY DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 06/07/2007

Before :

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE RIMER

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Between :

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Mr Tony Beswetherick (instructed by Clarke Willmott) for the Petitioner

Mr Sharif A. Shivji (instructed by Daniel Berman & Co) for the Respondent

Hearing date: 17 May 2007

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MR JUSTICE RIMER :

Introduction

1. This is a petition by the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (``HMRC'') for a bankruptcy order against Richard Alan Crossman (described as ``junior'' in the proceedings). The issues raised in answer to the petition caused Deputy Registrar Schaffer to decide on 18 January 2007 that it should be adjourned to a judge.

2. The proceedings have a protracted history and I hope it will not be unfair to observe that at times there appears to have been some confusion in the minds of HMRC and their solicitors as to the basis on which Mr Crossman's indebtedness arose. Having said that, there is no dispute that he did become indebted to HMRC in the sum asserted and that he has failed to discharge that debt. Nevertheless Mr Shivji, for Mr Crossman, has submitted that for one or more of three reasons the court should exercise its discretion under section 266(3) of the Insolvency Act 1986 to dismiss the petition. The first is a public law ground. The second goes to HMRC's conduct in relation to the matter. The third is that for the court to make a bankruptcy order would be for it to act in vain since it would achieve nothing but wasted costs.

Background

3. On 5 September 2003, on a prosecution brought by HMRC, Mr Crossman pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, fraudulent evasion of Value Added Tax (``VAT'') and excise duty on kerosene fuel. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison. On 27 February 2004 a confiscation order was made against him under section 71 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The court found that the value of his proceeds of crime amounted to £488,090 (in respect of both the VAT and exc...

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