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Elizabeth Lambert succeeds on a point of law in the Court of Appeal

Elizabeth Lambert representing the third applicant in R v AB, CD and EF [2017] EWCA Crim 534 successfully argued along with applicants 1 and 2 that the prosecution was invalid in this case, because it was brought by the respondent Local Authority acting outside of its section 222 powers (s.222 Local Government Act 1972).

The Court of Appeal agreed, and held that the Local Authority could not reasonably have thought that it was expedient for the promotion or protection of the interests of the inhabitants of the area to prosecute the appellants. This case should have been brought by the CPS bearing in mind the public interest considerations. The case involved an alleged £4m fraud on the Legal Aid Agency by a firm of immigration solicitors.

The court made it clear that, for the requirements of section 222 to be met, the alleged criminality must have an actual or potential impact on the inhabitants of the Local Authority's particular area (above and beyond their interests as citizens of the UK).

The Court of Appeal also deprecated the use of a private financial memorandum of understanding between the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) and the Local Authority as to the funding of the prosecution by the LAA, and the distribution of any confiscation proceeds as 'incentivisation payments' (part of which would have benefitted the Local Authority as the prosecuting agency in the event of convictions).

This is the first reported case in modern times where a successful section 222 point has been taken.

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