Welcome To Adkirk Law

We are a specialist law firm providing legal advice in cases of alleged business fraud and regulation and professional and healthcare regulation including criminal investigations. We have specialists offering representation in all types of professional misconduct cases including police misconduct.

We also advise in all types of residential conveyancing including more complex transactions such as newbuild and leasehold matters and rectifying defective titles.

We offer a bespoke service to our clients from experienced lawyers and our agile way of working gives us flexibility in the way we service our clients’ needs nationally and internationally at a competitive price.

Our team is dynamic and diverse and our mission is to deliver on the individuals needs of our diverse client base.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Our Practice Areas

SERIOUS FRAUD

Serious fraud and financial crimes are being actively pursued by prosecutors and regulators. If you are suspected of financial crime, you will need advice.

POLICE MISCONDUCT

We have a team of specialists who advise on professional regulation. We particularly specialise in advising senior police officers in respect of alleged misconduct issues.

REGULATORY LAW

We have a team of specialist regulatory Solicitors who act for businesses and professional clients across a number of sectors including financial and legal services.

CONVEYANCING SERVICES

We provide residential conveyancing services to home buyers, sellers and investors. These services include purchase and selling conveyancing and remortgaging.

REMORTGAGING

Re-mortgaging is often changing mortgage lenders to release some of the equity in your home, consolidating your debts or to get better rates without moving home.

LEASE EXTENSIONS

Most houses are freehold and most flats are leasehold. When you buy leasehold property you are not buying the bricks and mortar or the land on which the property sits.

HMRC INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS

If you are an individual or a business being investigated or prosecuted by HMRC then you need specialist advice from solicitors with a proven track record of HMRC experience. Our team has an extensive background in HMRC matters.

SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) only get involved in cases that are high value, complex allegations of fraud and/or bribery and corruption.

CRIMINAL DEFENCE SOLICITORS

Our expert criminal defence solicitors and Solicitors have extensive experience of successfully defending clients accused of the full range of fraud criminal offences. Our criminal defence solicitors act for clients.

FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY (FCA)

We specialise in liaising with the FCA to ensure the best resolutions for our clients whether that is through written representations or representation at interviews.

FITNESS TO PRACTICE INVESTIGATIONS

Fitness to practise investigations can be difficult, long and are usually heard in public unless the issues are related to your own health or a vulnerable witness.

INTERIM ORDERS TRIBUNAL HEARING ‘’IOT’’

We can help you consider all the information submitted against you and we will analyse and consider what information we should submit on your behalf to the IOT.

INTERIM ORDERS COMMITTEE ‘’IOC’’

Your registration and practice could be subject to interim conditions or an interim suspension order. IOC’s are convened at short notice.

INVESTIGATING COMMITTEES

The Investigating Committee (IC) panel is made up of people from within your profession and lay people from outside of your profession.

GMC RULE 7 LETTER AND RESPONSES

After completing its investigation, in accordance with Rule 7 of the General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Rules, the GMC is required to send you its allegations.

UNDERTAKINGS

An offer of undertakings might include asking you to limit your practice in some way, for example only working under supervision. They may also include health undertakings.

HEALTH ASSESSMENTS

Your regulator might receive a concern about your physical and mental health. This may have come from your employer, or you could have referred yourself.

PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENTS

A performance assessment might be directed to consider your fitness to practise following concerns which are usually raised by your employer or colleagues.

MAINTAINING HIGH PROFESSION STANDARDS

Restrictions could be placed on your practice or you could be excluded. Unfortunately these investigations can be lengthy and extremely stressful. They can also ultimately lead to referral to the General Medical Council or the General Dental Council.

STUDENT DISCIPLINARY AND FITNESS TO PRACTICE PROCEDURES

Universities have student disciplinary procedures to deal with misconduct and Fitness to Practise Procedures to consider alleged misconduct for students on specific professional courses.

NHS PERFORMERS LIST INVESTIGATIONS

For many healthcare professionals fitness to practise investigations start at a local level. If you are on one of the Performers List (medical, dental, ophthalmic) your ability to work in primary care and your registration on the List could be investigated.

INVESTIGATIONS BY YOUR NHS EMPLOYER

These investigations can be stressful and you might not respond in the best way yourself when you are under pressure, and the matter may therefore end up in front of your regulator.

POLICE STATION INTERVIEWS AND CRIMINAL SUPPORT FOR PROFESSIONALS

For some professionals, fitness to practise investigations follow on from criminal investigations into issues which are not always necessarily related to your work.

REGULATORY ADVICE IN HEALTHCARE

We have advised healthcare individuals and organisations in relation to relevant statutory frameworks concerning compliance, risk assessments, consent forms, audits and remedial action required to improve medical practices.

JUDICIAL REVIEW AND APPEALS

Judicial reviews are a review of the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body, for example decisions made by your regulatory body, where you think they have not followed their correct process.

TRADING STANDARDS INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS

We prosecute on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council who are the lead authority for the North West Trading Standards area.

POLICE MISCONDUCT

Our team will advise clients facing internal investigations from the Professional Standards department or matters that have been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

CARE QUALITY COMMISSION ENFORCEMENTS AND PROSECUTIONS

We can help you draft a robust response to a Notice of Proposal to cancel, vary, suspend or refuse your registration.

OFSTED ENFORCEMENTS AND PROSECUTIONS

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HEALTH AND SAFETY ENFORCEMENTS AND PROSECUTIONS

We represent businesses and individuals facing Health and Safety issues brought by either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or your local authority.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENTS AND PROSECUTIONS

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FOOD SAFETY ENFORCEMENTS AND PROSECUTIONS

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CORONIAL LAW AND INQUESTS

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FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY (FCA)

We specialise in liaising with the FCA to ensure the best resolutions for our clients whether that is through written representations or representation at interviews.

BUYING

Clients will need a conveyancer if they want to buy, sell or remortgage their property. Our residential conveyancing Solicitors are experts in helping you to buy your new home.

SELLING

When acting on behalf of a seller, a conveyancing Solicitor will collate all necessary documentation and prepare a draft contract.

TRANSFERS OF PROPERTY

We can help with transferring your interest, or in obtaining someone else’s interest in a property, whether through a Court order or mutual agreement.

BESPOKE SERVICE

Our bespoke conveyancing service offers extended service to give you exactly what you need based on your specific requirements.

CONVEYANCING CALCULATOR

Using our conveyancing calculator, you can save time and money by instantly comparing quotes and prices directly from UK based solicitors and licensed conveyancers.

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What's Going On

Latest News & Updates

Ways and means – fixing fraud enforcement

The UK Government plans to use a new economic crime levy in part to address fraud but more investment in law enforcement is not of itself the answer, argues Rachel Adamson of Adkirk Law.

Fraud is on a meteoric rise in the UK. With recent figures from the Government reporting a 24% rise in the past year, and consumer group Which? estimating that UK£9.3bn has been lost it’s obvious something needs to be done. If the old proverb “fraud and cunning are the weapons of the weak” is to be believed, then it would appear that fraudsters are resolving their weaknesses with a strength in numbers approach.

In a move to stem the relentless wave of fraud sweeping the nation, the Government has introduced a new Economic Crime Levy. [1] This Levy will apply to medium and large businesses that are subject to money laundering regulations and will seek to raise additional funding for the Government’s efforts to clamp down on serious fraud. However, under the proposed approach, these additional funds and resources would be largely misplaced.

As it stands, there is too great a focus on backend enforcement, whilst the bodies and agencies working on the front line of counter-fraud enforcement are being starved for resources and funding. For one example, this misstep is well demonstrated by the proposed plans to add additional accredited financial investigators to the ranks.

It is important to maintain high capacity for backend investigation, but this is not where priorities should currently lie, as financial investigators are typically only used once an investigation has begun or indeed once a case is finalised and confiscation proceedings are underway. There is limited value to increasing capacity here if the means to uncover and investigate cases are not up to scratch, which is currently the case. If anything, this approach could create a reverse bottleneck, with investigators idly waiting for a case to investigate.

Rather, resources and increased spending is urgently needed at the front-end operation in the counter-fraud effort. This is where regulators are struggling to keep up with the rising volume of fraud cases, as there simply isn’t the funding or manpower to effectively police fraudsters. The additional budget generated by the Levy would be more effectively spent on the bodies that seek out and prosecute cases of fraud and money laundering.

Whilst the Levy will be effective in raising some additional funds, it alone will likely not be enough to achieve the lofty ambitions that the Government has set out for it. Bodies responsible for cracking down on fraud, such as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and National Crime Agency (NCA), are as much in need of wholesale structural change as they are additional resources. Funding is only half the battle, and without structural reform, we will only be left with a well-funded machine that still doesn’t function properly.

Happily, there is a good example for the SFO and NCA to follow, in the shape of the way Trading Standards operate. Trading Standards, as a separate local department in each Local Authority, is actively supported by regional teams and ultimately by National Trading Standards (NTS) as they seek to clamp down on fraud. This is done by providing additional support for ongoing investigations. Furthermore, they give local agencies the option to take investigations further up the chain to be progressed by the regional teams supported by NTS, which has proved a highly effective approach.

Adopting similar tactics would enable the SFO and NCA to continue overseeing investigations into the most serious fraud cases, while ensuring that smaller level cases can be dealt with at a local level. In theory, the current model is actually meant operate in this way, but in reality, most local authorities don’t investigate the frauds to begin with. If support at local level was enhanced, this structure would likely operate as intended and ultimately begin to plug the gaps that currently exist.

Furthermore, the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) in theory has the authority to task local police forces to address fraud. However, until they receive more resources in terms of on the ground investigating, the NECC will fail to properly use these powers. Funding should therefore be funnelled into bolstering the ranks of highly trained fraud investigators, who stand at the front line of fighting fraud, as opposed to accredited financial investigators, who are typically bought in at the confiscation stage.

However, whilst additional resources and structural reform are two crucial pieces of the puzzle, the NCA must also refresh its approach on how it decides the investigations that are worth launching and look to overhaul the Suspicious Activity Report (SARs) regime. At present, most frauds reported to the NCA, or the police are not investigated at all. In particular, those reported through SARs are too often not looked into, even if there is good reason for investigation included in the report. Ultimately, the value of the fraud is often deemed unworthy of following up, and it is usually only when there is substantial value that something will be pursued. Currently, frauds reported to the police are often dismissed as a civil dispute. This is simply not good enough and is perhaps the most essential change needed.

The NCA is also often ambivalent to the SARs that relate to seemingly low transactions, allowing an easy loophole for fraudsters to exploit. There needs to be greater support for businesses under the SAR regime, and funds redirected towards improving and streamlining the process.

Fortunately, SARs reform is already underway, which may make some progress in improving the systems of fraud reporting. If nothing else, the improved interface may streamline the process and provide better ease of use. However, the real issue with SARs lies at the sheer volume of rejections that occur and the lack of guidance and response for victims. For example, if something is not articulated in a particular way, the SAR is rejected, and the practitioner is left to their own devices in deciding whether or not they would have a defence.

The NCA currently sets an incredibly high bar for the SARs that regulated businesses must submit; as such, many of these reports are deemed insufficiently concerning to launch an investigation. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely we will see change here, as the law commission has previously ruled out any possible reform to defining suspicion. Practitioners, then, will likely continue to face the reality of being required to report suspicion at every level, with the likelihood that the fraud will be deemed unworthy of an investigation. This is where SARs really let fraud victims down, and where improvements and reforms must be made.

Furthermore, the current approach from the NCA makes it very hard to gain permission to progress with any SAR transactions that have already been rejected for investigation. The referrer is subject to a seven-day delay time, regardless of whether the SAR is actually investigated, wherein they are not legally permitted to notify their client of the reason for the interruption. This leaves businesses in a horrible, unsupported limbo where they open themselves up to potential prosecution if they accept the funds but are unable to notify clients as to why they haven’t been accepted.

With HM Revenue & Customs recently reporting that the taxpayer has been defrauded of up to UK£5bn through Covid relief schemes it has never been clearer that we are in dire need of effective action to combat fraud. This change needs to start from within the regulatory and enforcement bodies, and must take the form of better resource management, structural reform, and refreshed parameters on when to launch investigations.

The fraudsters’ weapons may be weak, but they are finding the chinks in the authorities’ armour. Until law enforcement and regulators change suit, we can expect fraud to continue growing in strength and numbers, and at the expense of the law-abiding public.

This article was first published in Fraud Intelligence http://www.counter-fraud.com.

ENDS

The government has missed the mark in tackling fraud

Rather than an economic crime levy, an entire structural change is needed

By Rachel Adamson | The Times

“There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.”

So runs the famous proverb — a favourite of Stephen Harper, the former Canadian prime minister. And such words seem doubly apposite when it comes to the UK government’s latest efforts to tackle fraud.

Faced with a record growth in fraud, to the point where 12 people become fresh victims every half an hour, ministers have unveiled an economic crime levy with a view to funding government action to tackle money laundering and ambitious counter-fraud measures.

Unfortunately, no matter the promise to get tough on fraud, these measures fall short. Rather than turn the tide, the government is arguably fiddling whilst pockets are picked.

Put simply, the government’s attention and energy is misplaced. Funding should not only be going towards backend enforcement, typified by the plans to increase the number of accredited financial investigators. Resources are needed at the coal face and money would be better spent on the investigation and prosecution of fraud and money laundering itself.

What resource-starved agencies — such as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) or National Crime Agency (NCA) — urgently need is not just more money, but structural change. Here, the Trading Standards Authority, which empowers local agencies to support their investigations whilst providing the option to escalate to the national body, provides a blueprint. Such a model would allow the SFO to continue to deal with the most serious cases, whilst ensuring other reports do not fall through the cracks.

But even here, these structural changes will mean nothing unless the NCA redefines its stance on what level of transaction is worth pursuing. This change is essential.

All too often, the suspicious activity reports that regulated businesses are obliged to complete are not considered of sufficient concern. This leaves practitioners, who have already gone through an incredibly onerous reportage process, in the lurch.

The NCA makes it extremely difficult to obtain permission to continue with a suspicious transaction they have rejected for investigation, and the referrer is left with at least a seven-day wait where they cannot inform the client of the reason for delay.

We need action on fraud, that much is clear. And though money will certainly grease the wheels of justice, it is also clear we need to reform the suspicious activity report regime alongside the creation of a regional, properly resourced SFO.

The Home Office is developing a fraud action plan, but we cannot afford a protracted wait for action. Otherwise, the promise to tackle fraud may, indeed, be the greatest fraud of all.

Rachel Adamson is the head of fraud at Adkirk Law, a firm in Preston

ENDS

Stamp of excellence for regional law experts

By Rachel Adamson of Adkirk Law

A specialist North West law firm has been re-accredited by the industry standards body for best practice in the legal sector.

Adkirk Law, with its headquarters in Preston, has met the Law Society’s standard for excellence in practice management and client care under the Lexcel accreditation following a rigorous assessment process.

Lexcel provides a flexible framework to support practices in developing consistent operational efficiencies and maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly diverse market.

The accreditation defines quality management procedures in seven areas: structure and strategy, financial management, information management, people management, risk management, client care and file and case management.

Rachel Adamson, head of fraud and regulatory at Adkirk Law, said: “The Lexcel standard is a real mark of quality in our sector, demonstrating excellence in the eyes of the Law Society and reflecting our commitment towards best practice and high standards. It’s something which is reassessed annually to ensure standards and compliance are maintained so it’s pleasing to be able to consistently reach this benchmark.

“With all the challenges and uncertainty this year has presented, it’s more important than ever that clients can be assured we are delivering excellence and operating in their best interests at the highest levels, across all aspects of the firm.”

Adkirk Law offers a niche practice with expertise in regulatory law, including serious fraud, regulation and police misconduct, and residential conveyancing.

ENDS

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