The Court of Appeal has overturned a controversial decision to throw out a land banking fraud case brought by the FCA after the five defendants failed to get legal representation.
In April 2013 the FCA charged eight men with land banking fraud and carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation.
A judge threw out the case earlier this month against five of the individuals on the basis that they would not be given a fair trial as they could not get proper legal representation. It is the first time a case has been thrown out as a result of the cuts to legal aid.
The Court of Appeal has now overturned the original ruling following an appeal by the FCA.
Handing down its judgment at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today, Sir Brian Leveson said: “We have reached the clear conclusion that this ruling does involve errors of law or principle and, in any event, was not reasonable in the sense that a number of the conclusions reached were not reasonably open to him [Judge Leonard QC, the original presiding judge) based on the evidence and, in any event, his ultimate finding did not constitute a reasonable exercise of the discretion open to him.”
The case will now proceed to trial.
The FCA says: “The FCA welcomes the Court of Appeal’s decision in the case of Crawley and others. The FCA is committed to pursuing criminal action in appropriate cases and is pleased that this case can now proceed towards trial.”