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‘Iraq Witch Hunt’ lawyer declared bankrupt - news article image

‘Iraq Witch Hunt’ lawyer declared bankrupt

21 Apr 2017

1 minute read

The former head of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), Phil Shiner has been declared bankrupt. Shiner was most well-known for leading the ‘Iraq Witch Hunt’, in which £100 million of tax payer’s money was spent as over 2,200 abuse claims were brought against British troops.

Following the claims, the disgraced lawyer was struck off as a solicitor and is now facing criminal investigation. The multiple misconduct charges include; acting dishonestly, recklessly and without integrity. Proceedings against Shiner were led by The Solicitors Regulation Authority, who ordered him to pay an interim cost of £250,000. However, overall costs are believed to be totalling nearer £500,000.

It was revealed that in the lead up to the case, the Ministry of Defence paid Shiner’s law firm over £208,000 in order to prosecute UK soldiers, leaving questions to be asked surrounding his bankruptcy. Additional speculation arose following the sale of his Birmingham home to his daughters for £300,000 cash. Shiner also had a stake in another nearby property that was purchased for £470,000 in 2009.

Two issues arise from the above – firstly that whilst bankruptcy releases a debtor from all unsecured debts that exit at the date of a bankruptcy order once their assets have been collected that does not apply to debts that arise as a consequence of criminal activity. This means that the article is possibly wrong if the debts due to the government in respect of fraudulent legal aid claims result in a criminal prosecution.

Secondly, sections within the Insolvency Act are specifically designed to protect creditors from actions taken by debtors to abscond with assets or transfer them to family members at undervalue whether with the intention of avoiding payment of creditors or not. Section 339 (transactions at undervalue) enables a trustee in bankruptcy to review and overturn transactions up to five years prior to the bankruptcy order where they are transferred to relatives at either undervalue or as gifts. In addition, Section 423 allows both a trustee and any individual creditor harmed to review and reverse transactions entered into with the intention of defrauding creditors.

Mr Shiner may consequently find that, by transferring his house to his daughters, he has embroiled them in potentially expensive legal proceedings for which they may not thank him.

If you would like to consult with any of our specialist advisors then please contact Clive Everitt on 01865 292200 or via email.

‘Iraq Witch Hunt’ lawyer declared bankrupt - news article image

If you would like to consult with any of our specialist advisors then please contact Clive Everitt on 01865 292200 or via email

Author:

Clive Everitt

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