Abbas Lakha QC
Abbas Lakha QC is widely regarded as one of the UK’s most successful and respected leading silks, with a heavyweight practice which encompasses a broad range of specialist areas. He is regularly instructed to advise upon and defend in the most challenging and high profile cases. He is particularly sought after to advise in International financial crime cases, representing clients both in the UK and around the world.
He is retained as a Consultant to the Sabra Defence team in the Hague, who are defending an accused alleged to have been complicit in the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Rafik Hariri.
Background and expertise
Abbas has experience in all forms of Civil and Criminal Fraud and asset forfeiture work, including restraint and confiscation, and appears before the Tax Tribunals (First Tier and Upper Tier) in respect of VAT and Tax cases. He is highly respected for his advocacy, his attention to detail and his negotiating skills. Regularly instructed to advise at the pre-investigative stages of cases, Abbas has extensive experience of representing high profile individuals for whom reputation management is a significant concern.
Rated in Chambers UK and Legal 500 directories as a leader in the fields of international crime, murder, terrorism, financial crime and asset forfeiture, Abbas Lakha QC is noted for his detailed preparation, incisive examination and strong jury advocacy. He is particularly skilled in handling international money laundering cases, bribery and corruption prosecutions, VAT frauds, missing trader frauds and insider dealing cases.
Areas of Practice
Expertise in defending in large-scale HMRC MTIC/VAT frauds, SFO cases, Bribery and Corruption allegations, money laundering cases, and fraud related civil proceedings in the High Court [with civil Juniors].
Notable cases include: HMRC v Sunico ApS and Others, R v Goddard (Operation Vaulter), R v Gathani (Operation Inertia), R v Hague (Operation District), Z Khan v HMRC.
Abbas has experience in all forms of Civil and Criminal Fraud and asset forfeiture work, including restraint and confiscation, and appears before the Tax Tribunals (First Tier and Upper Tier) in respect of VAT and Tax cases.
In the Criminal Courts he has defended in some of the most high profile tax and duty evasion cases over the years including R v Goddard (Operation Vaulter), R v Gathani (Operation Inertia), R v Hague (Operation District) and the London City Bond series of cases.
In the Tax Tribunals (First Tier and Upper Tier) Abbas has appeared on behalf of Directors and Companies in cases concerning penalties, personal liability notices, HMRC’s decisions to withhold input Tax and excise duties arising from a failure to follow HMRC procedures. He is also regularly instructed in an advisory capacity to assist Companies and Individuals wishing to challenge HMRC actions which are seen to be in excess of power.
Cases he has been instructed in recently include Atlantic v HMRC, Zafar Khan v HMRC, Refill Ink Centre Ltd v HMRC, IA Associates v HMRC, HMRC v Sunico ApS and Others, and Hawkeye Communications v HMRC.
Work undertaken includes being a Consultant to the Sabra Team at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, advisor to a Kenyan politician (extradition request from Jersey to Kenyan authorities) charged with corruption and money laundering, advisor to former British soldiers on anti-piracy duty in the Indian Ocean arrested in India, advising a Russian oligarch in relation to his financial affairs in the UK, and advising British Nationals residing in the UAE in respect of potential prosecution for financial fraud in the UK.
Experience of challenging European and International Arrest Warrants including Interpol Red Alert Notices.
Notable cases include R v Adebowale (Fusilier Lee Rigby), R v Aabid Khan (alleged Al Qaeda operative), R v Feddag (ricin case), R v Taimur Shah and others (Afghan Hijacking).
Notable expertise in both large multi-handed murder cases, contract/organized crime cases, through to terrorism related murders as well as allegations of Sexual Crime, both current and historical.
Notable cases include: R v Kholi (Hannah Foster murder), R v Toprak (Hackney Turks v Tottenham Turks), Serdar Ozbek (alleged contract killing), R v Adebowale (Fusilier Lee Rigby killing).
Abbas (leading Aneurin Brewer) recently successfully resisted a Prosecution application to extend Custody Time Limits in a case involving allegations of rape and perverting the course of Justice. In an important first instance decision His Honour Judge Gibson refused a prosecution application to extend the Custody Time Limits (“CTLs”) of a defendant facing charges of rape and perverting the course of justice where his trial could not proceed due to the epidemic. Abbas and Aneurin successfully argued on behalf of the defendant that while the current crisis did amount to a good and sufficient cause to extended the CTLs that nevertheless did not excuse the prosecution’s failures to act with all due diligence and expedition to be trial ready by the due date. The learned judge consequently allowed for the defendant’s release while awaiting his delayed trial date. Please see a note of the learned Judge’s ruling here.
Undertakes VAT Tribunal work before the Upper and First Tier Tribunals and represents Accountants, Lawyers, Medical personnel and sports personalities before their disciplinary Tribunals.
Abbas successfully appealed against HMRC’s decision to cancel Brac Saajan Exchange Limited’s registration under The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.
Brac Saajan is a successful money service bureau which is required to register with HMRC. HMRC cancelled Brac’s registration because it believed that were widescale breaches of the Money Laundering Regulations.
In a 10 day hearing at the First Tier Tribunal, Abbas was able to demonstrate that the majority of the breaches HMRC contended were simply not made out. Focusing on the errors in approach and interpretation by HMRC and its officer Sarah Chapman, Abbas succeeded in reversing the decision to cancel BSEL’s registration and the decisions that individual officers of Brac were not fit and proper person and to impose a permanent prohibition on three officers from holding a management role.
Abbas has experience of prosecuting and defending in private prosecutions on behalf of both individuals and corporate entities and is a member of the Private Prosecutors’ Association. He can lead clients through the procedural maze of the Criminal Justice System in mounting a Private Prosecution, the thorny issue of disclosure right up to preparing and presenting the prosecution case at trial.
Professional Commentary and Attribution
Ranked in the Chambers UK guide every year from 2013–20.
"Abbas is a polished and effective advocate, and a tough negotiator. He masters complex materials quickly and pinpoints the essential factual and legal matters. Abbas stands out among leading silks as a clever, creative thinker, always with an eye on the big picture" Legal 500.
'A well-respected silk with a notable practice in financial crime. He is experienced in matters concerning fraud, money laundering and corruption, and offers additional expertise in private prosecutions.' "Exceptionally talented and just a brilliant advocate."
"A "fantastic" specialist defence advocate, respected for his jury advocacy and highly experienced in handling complex homicides and drugs offences, as well as fraud cases. He is also particularly familiar with the intricacies of appellate work and historic cases'.
'.... [he] is tenacious and persuasive in equal measure. He reads a case with great insight and is particularly good with anything requiring knowledge of the world of business. He is equally at home in those cases requiring the determination of an accomplished street fighter as he is in those needing a softer touch.' (Chambers UK, 2022)
‘Abbas has a collaborative and extremely effective leadership style which instils confidence in clients and brings out the best in the team. Client know that he understands their position and feel very well represented by Abbas. Abbas is a polished and effective advocate, and a tough negotiator. He masters complex materials quickly and pinpoints the essential factual and legal matters. Abbas stands out among leading silks as a clever, creative thinker, always with an eye on the big picture.’ (Legal 500, 2022 - Crime).
‘Committed and tactically astute. He is an absolute master in the courtroom and able to articulate the most difficult and complex evidence with charm and absolute ease.’ (Legal 500, 2021)
‘A smooth operator. Abbas is a serious barrister with a calm air in the face of challenge, bringing an understated determination to his cause. An absolute master in the courtroom and able to articulate the most difficult and complex evidence with charm and absolute ease.’ Legal 500, 2021 (Fraud, Crime)
“A real force, he is relentless in his pursuit of what is best for the client.” ”A fearless operator, negotiator and tactician, who is prepared to be unpopular if that’s what it takes to win.” (Chambers UK, 2020)
"A shrewd tactician and dogged in pursuit of the unpopular when needed" (Legal 500, 2020)
"A great strategic thinker who is eager to win cases." "He has a very likeable manner." (Chambers UK, 2019)
A supreme operator, driven to obtain the best result in the circumstances of the case. An approachable and hard-working specialist defence advocate, highly experienced in handling complex homicides and drugs offences as well as fraud cases. He is also particularly familiar with the intricacies of appellate work. (Chambers UK, 2019)
‘Willing to take difficult points and fearless in court' ... 'Very thorough and combative: a feared opponent who prepares meticulously.’ (Legal 500, 2018)
"A supreme operator, driven to obtain the best result in the circumstances of the case." (Legal 500, 2017)
"An approachable and hard-working specialist defence advocate highly experienced in handling complex homicides and drugs offences, as well as fraud cases. He is also particularly familiar with the intricacies of appellate work. Market sources describe him as "a real credit to chambers and the Criminal Bar."
"Abbas is extremely impressive on his feet, and his ability to work through papers and identify the issues faced by the defendant is fantastic." "Clients like him because of his evident desire to achieve the best possible result in every case."
“He has the ability to put a client at ease with his effective approach to case handling … His attention to detail is second to none and his advocacy skills are exceptional.”
Legal 500, 2016
PROFILE: Abbas Lakha QC
Confiscation / POCA
Fraud, Bribery & Corruption
Regulatory / Disciplinary
Fraud, Bribery & Corruption
Financial and Corporate law
020 7489 2727
BA (Hons), Leeds Beckett University, 1980–83
Barrister at Law, Bar School, Council of Legal Education, 1983–84
The Bar Council of England and Wales, The Criminal Bar Association, The European Criminal Bar Association, International Bar Association, The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association, The Society of Asian Lawyers, The Society of Black Lawyers
Queens Counsel (2003)
Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple (2009)
Inspector for the Department of Trade and Industry (2000)
The Criminal Bar Association of England & Wales Co-opted Committee Member
The Bar Council of England & Wales VHCC Fees Committee
Member of the Crime Editorial Board of LexisNexis