Legislation has been passed introducing a new corporate criminal offence which will be effective from 30 September 2017. The offence is of "failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion" either in the UK or abroad. This places strict liability on companies, partnerships and LLPs for failure to prevent facilitation of evasion by their members of staff, agents and associates, punishable by an unlimited fine. This is subject to a statutory defence that, at the time the facilitation offence was committed, the organisation had in place such prevention procedures as it was reasonable in all the circumstances to have in place, or it was not reasonable to expect the body to have any prevention procedures in place.
It is therefore crucial for companies and firms affected by this offence to take steps to put prevention procedures in place as soon as possible. Reference should be made to the government's draft guidance and we await sector-specific guidance from the Law Society and others to assist with this process.