Ben Douglas-Jones QC - BARRISTER


Ben Douglas-Jones QC is a leading silk in financial, serious, consumer, appellate and human rights crime. He defends professional and corporate clients including public limited companies. He prosecutes for the Serious Fraud Office and CPS Headquarters' Specialist Fraud Division, Appeals and Review Unit, Organised Crime Unit, Proceeds of Crime Unit and Complex Case Units.  He also prosecutes for local authorities. 

 

Ben has prosecuted financial crime in the Supreme Court and has defended in the most high profile frauds in England and Wales for over 18 years.  Ben practises in all serious, complex fiscal and non-fiscal fraud, including corporate, financial, banking, carousel, MTIC, tax evasion scheme, acquisition, mortgage, Excise, Hawala, advance fee (419), boiler room, Ponzi , NHS, dental, pharmaceutical, Internet, car-ringing, gambling, cheque clearing cycle and insurance fraud. 

 

Recent fraud cases include: the “Ed Sheeran” landmark National Trading Standards prosecution of ticket “touts": in R v Hunter, Ben represented the first defendant in the prosecution of the officers of BZZ Ltd for reselling concert and event tickets using multiple names; and R v Bryant, the National Trust procurement fraud. He is member of the Fraud Lawyers' Association. 

 

Ben has vast experience in Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 cases, including restraint, confiscation, receivership, forfeiture, civil recovery and asset freezing proceedings.

 

Ben’s appellate work has seen him appear in over 200 reported cases.  He is a leading Silk in appeals concerning issues of human trafficking and refugees, including the leading cases of AAD (2022), Bani (2021), Brecani (2021), R v GS (2019), R v Joseph (2017), R v Mirahessari (2016); R v Mateta (2016); R v L (2013), R v N and L (2011). Ben conducts second-opinion defence appellate work where he did not appear in the Crown Court and is instructed by the CPS Appeals and Review Unit in the High Court and Court of Appeal. 

 

Ben’s human rights work has led to his representing a team of amici curiae in the International Criminal Court appeal of Dominic Ongwen in connection with child soldiers.  He is leading a team of lawyers in a UN submission concerning the abuse of children and slaves in brick kilns in Cambodia.  He represented the family of Shamima Begum in connection with the removal of her citizenship.

 

He also has significant expertise in miscarriage of justice work having represented Colin Stagg and secured the £706,000 compensation for Stagg’s wrongful indictment for the murder of Rachel Nickell. 

 

Ben has appeared in high profile and complex murder and homicide cases, including Operation Molar, in which he represented a 19-year-old indicted for conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life in connection with a drive-by shooting in Birmingham, and Operation Triangle, in which he prosecuted the murderer of a child killer.

 

Ben has consistently appeared in high profile consumer law and consumer crime cases over the last 20 years, including the recent Ed Sheeran secondary ticketing (ticket tout) case, the Worldwide Tickets Ltd combined regulatory appeals on the penal sections of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and Operation Cleo, a multimillion pound alleged copycat website case, where the defendants were found not guilty of alleged multimillion pound consumer fraud.  Ben’s regulatory practice extends to all areas of consumer law, with an emphasis on trade-marks and copyright law, criminal planning, food safety and environmental health.

 

He is ranked in Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 for criminal fraud/financial crime, consumer law and general crime.  According to Legal 500, Ben is “extremely bright”, with "great intellectual strength" and “extremely able” with the ability to “marshal cases of the utmost complexity”. 

 

Ben was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1998.  

 

He was called to the Bar of Grenada in 2011, with rights of audience in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal.

 

He was appointed a QC in 2018.

 

Ben was appointed Deputy High Court Judge in 2021; authorised to sit in the Administrative Court.

 

He was appointed Recorder of the Crown Court in 2018; authorised to sit in serious sexual offences.

 

Ben was The Times Lawyer of the Week in 2019 for successfully prosecuting Ieuan Harley for the murder of David Gaut.

 

He is editor of Southwell, Brewer and Douglas-Jones QC – Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Law in Practice; Bloomsbury Professional - February 2018. He is also an author of the Blackstone’s Guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015; 2nd edition 2021.

 

Ben is editor of Human Rights in Criminal Law; Bloomsbury Professional – to be published in 2022.

 

Ben has co-written the CPS Guidance on charging and prosecuting victims of human trafficking for over 10 years, the Law Society Guidance on defending people who might be victims of human trafficking and the refugee defence and the Judicial College Guidance on trying defendants who might be victims of trafficking or slavery.

 

Ben is author of Blackstone’s Guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

 

 

Recent Appeals

R v AAD [2022] EWCA Crim 106; [2022] 2 WLUK 48 Court of Appeal gave guidance on trafficking and modern slavery in criminal cases, including on admissibility of Single Competent Authority decisions on appeal, abuse of process arguments for slavery or trafficking victims compelled to commit offences, and circumstances where a victim of trafficking can argue conviction following guilty plea unsafe.

 

R v Bani [2021] EWCA Crim 1958; [2021] 12 WLUK 457 Convictions of four “small boat” asylum seekers for assisting unlawful immigration, crossing the English Channel, overturned because court had not properly considered mental element of offence or whether they had “entered” UK illegally. Court of Appeal clarified mental element under Immigration Act 1971 s.25 and jury direction on illegal entry.

 

R v Hunter and Smith [2021] EWCA Crim 1785; [2021] 11 WLUK 384 Court considered components of fraudulent trading, Companies Act 2006, s.993(1), in the “Ed Sheeran” ticket touting case where profit was made by reselling tickets for sporting and cultural events, in breach of ostensible restrictions imposed by event organisers. The s.993(1) offence was not subject to limitations of conspiracy to defraud; no requirement for prosecution to prove intention to deceive.  Where criminal allegation is founded on breach of civil law, the judge must rule on the breaches before the jury decides the criminal issues. The case involved the “fairness” and enforceability under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 of the event organisers terms and conditions of sale which impose restrictions on the purchase and resale of tickets and the risk of ticket nullity, the status in law of a “ticket” and the scope, effect and operation of the doctrine of “equity’s darling”.

 

R. v Douglas (Jerome) [2021] EWCA Crim 1193; [2021] 4 W.L.R. 126; [2021] 7 WLUK 513; [2022] 1 Cr. App. R. 5 An important appeal considering the doctrine of autrefois convict, where prison governors and adjudicators act unlawfully in prison disciplinary proceedings; nullities of decisions; and the purview of a judge’s power under s.45(4) of the Senior Courts Act 1981. 

 

R v Brecani [2021] EWCA Crim 731; [2021] 1 W.L.R. 5851; [2021] 5 WLUK 221; [2021] 2 Cr. App. R. 12; [2022] Crim. L.R. 69. Leading case before the Lord Chief Justice on the inadmissibility of Single Competent Authority decisions in criminal proceedings; reaffirming the fact that the CACD may receive SCA decisions to assess safety of convictions.

 

R v CS [2021] EWCA Crim 134; [2021] 2 WLUK 68 The Modern Slavery Act 2015 s.45 did not have retrospective effect. There was no factor which positively indicated that Parliament intended the defence under s.45 to be available in respect of offences committed by victims of trafficking before the Act came into force.

 

H v DPP [2021] EWHC 147 (Admin); [2021] 1 W.L.R. 2721; [2021] 1 WLUK 352; [2021] 1 Cr. App. R. 23; [2021] Crim. L.R. 400; [2021] A.C.D. 41 Leading case before the Lord Chief Justice where it was held it was not permissible to use the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 s.142 to reopen a case where a defendant had pleaded guilty in the magistrates' court and been sentenced in the Crown Court but later discovered a defence could have been advanced. The remedy was a CCRC application.

 

R (on the application of Purvis) v DPP [2020] EWHC 3573 (Admin); [2021] 4 W.L.R. 41; [2020] 12 WLUK 431; [2021] 1 Cr. App. R. 20; [2021] A.C.D. 32. Obligation on DPP where reviewing a case under right VRR scheme.

 

R v Luckhurst [2020] EWCA Crim 1579; [2021] 1 W.L.R. 1807; [2020] 11 WLUK 309; [2021] Lloyd's Rep. F.C. 53; [2021] Crim. L.R. 694 (Supreme Court appeal pending) Leading case on nature of restraint orders; reasonableness of living expenses under s.41(3)(a) of POCA; living expenses incurred on credit; legal expenses under s.41(4) civil proceedings concerning the same subject matter as the criminal proceedings are not “legal expenses related to the offence”.

 

R v A [2020] EWCA Crim 1408; [2021] 4 W.L.R. 16; [2020] 10 WLUK 371 Leading case on the special category of abuse of process in a case where a possible credible victim of trafficking or slavery commits an offence where the defence under s.45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 is excluded by Sched.4. Now see AAD 2022.

 

R. (on the application of L) v DPP [2020] EWHC 1815 (Admin); [2020] 7 WLUK 137; [2020] A.C.D. 106 In determining whether to prosecute a couple for domestic servitude offences relating to their treatment of an overseas domestic worker, the Crown Prosecution Service had failed to properly assess whether they had deceived her in order to induce her to come to the UK, contrary to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 s.4(4)(c).

 

R v Smith (Alec) [2020] EWCA Crim 777; [2020] 4 W.L.R. 128; [2020] 6 WLUK 300; [2020] 2 Cr. App. R. 27 Leading case on multiple hearsay (interplay between ss.115 and 121): a conviction for indecent assault was quashed where highly prejudicial hearsay evidence of an alleged confession was wrongly admitted.  The Court emphasises that the Criminal Procedure Rules are not “decorative”.

 


Latest News

1.8m National Trust Fraud

 

Ben, leading James Marsland, appears for the Crown in Operation Berber, a 1.8 million fraud on the National Trust; see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/03/04/national-trust-surveyor-trial-swindling-charity-17m/

 

Guidance Given by Court of Appeal in Appeals Where Victims of Trafficking Offend

R v AAD [2022] EWCA Crim 106; [2022] 2 WLUK 48 Court of Appeal gave guidance on trafficking and modern slavery in criminal cases, including on admissibility of Single Competent Authority decisions on appeal, abuse of process arguments for slavery or trafficking victims compelled to commit offences, and circumstances where a victim of trafficking can argue conviction following guilty plea unsafe.

 

Significant case concerning facilitating illegal immigration in cases of small boats carrying migrants being intercepted by authorities in the English Channel:

 

R v Bani [2021] EWCA Crim 1958; [2021] 12 WLUK 457 Convictions of four “small boat” asylum seekers for assisting unlawful immigration, crossing the English Channel, overturned because court had not properly considered mental element of offence or whether they had “entered” UK illegally. Court of Appeal clarified mental element under Immigration Act 1971 s.25 and jury direction on illegal entry.

 

Consumer and fraud law framed by the Court of Appeal following the secondary ticketing case involving Ed Sheeran and Adele tickets

R v Hunter and Smith [2021] EWCA Crim 1785; [2021] 11 WLUK 384 Court considered components of fraudulent trading, Companies Act 2006, s.993(1), in the “Ed Sheeran” ticket touting case where profit was made by reselling tickets for sporting and cultural events, in breach of ostensible restrictions imposed by event organisers.

 

The s.993(1) offence was not subject to limitations of conspiracy to defraud; no requirement for prosecution to prove intention to deceive.  Where criminal allegation is founded on breach of civil law, the judge must rule on the breaches before the jury decides the criminal issues.

 

The case involved the “fairness” and enforceability under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 of the event organisers terms and conditions of sale which impose restrictions on the purchase and resale of tickets and the risk of ticket nullity, the status in law of a “ticket” and the scope, effect and operation of the doctrine of “equity’s darling”.

 

R v Brecani - A Landmark Decision

R v Brecani  [2021] EWCA Crim 731 

 

Ben, leading Rebecca Austin, instructed by the CPS Appeals and Review Unit, appeared in this landmark decision which profoundly affects the law of evidence and criminal procedure in all cases in which a possible victim of trafficking or slavery faces a criminal trial. 

 

In a special court sitting of the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice, the Vice President of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker accepted Ben’s argument that a conclusive grounds decision made by a Single Competent Authority appointed under the National Referral Mechanism and signed by a caseworker was not admissible as evidence in criminal proceedings in determining whether a defendant was a victim of modern slavery under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 Pt 5 s.45(4).

 

Caseworkers were not experts in human trafficking or modern slavery and could not give opinion evidence in a trial on the question whether an individual was trafficked or exploited.

 

The Court overturned the Divisional Court decision of DPP v M.