Friday 2 August 2019

UK: England and Wales: sentencing fraudulent trading

Last month, in Ali, R v [2019] EWCA Crim 1263, the Court of Appeal heard three appeals against a sentence - 28 months' imprisonment - imposed on three individuals for fraudulent trading under section 993 of the Companies Act 2006. One of the grounds of appeal concerned what was said to be the sentencing judge's undue or excessive reliance on the Sentencing Council Guideline for Fraud, Bribery and Money Laundering Offences, in the absence of a specific guideline for fraudulent trading.

The appeals were dismissed, the court finding that the sentences were neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive. The sentencing judge had stated that it was appropriate to pay "more than some regard" to the Guideline for Fraud, an observation noted by the court and not - as far as I can tell - explicitly accepted or rejected. It should, however, be noted that since the court's judgment was given, the Sentencing Council has published a new General Guideline for sentencing offences not covered by a specific sentencing guideline: see here. The General Guideline requires, as part of step 1 ("Reaching a provisional sentence"), that the court should take account (if applicable) of the definitive sentencing guidelines for analogous offences.

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