Contractor tax veteran Simon Dolan to recommence covid-19 legal battle

The contractor sector’s highest profile accountant is awaiting a court date to recommence his coronavirus lockdown battle, after a judge denied him permission to launch a judicial review.

Simon Dolan, who has two contractor accounting firms bearing his name, said on Friday that he is waiting to hear when he can fight the High Court’s ruling that lockdown was lawful.

The boss of Dolan Accountancy, who also set up SJD Accountancy (before selling it in 2014), believes the judgment by Mr Justice Lewis “did not engage with, or consider on any analytical level, the vital issues”.  

Mr Dolan brought the case in May, alleging that health secretary Matt Hancock did not have the legal power to impose restrictions on the UK and breached human rights laws in doing so.

'Novel, highly infectious'

But despite hundreds of evidence pages submitted, support from almost 8,000 individuals and a crowdfunding campaign which has raised over £220,000, the judge was unconvinced.

The High Court found that the minister “did have the power to make general regulations to protect against or control the incidence and spread of coronavirus in England.”

It added that curbs on schools, businesses, and people’s freedoms were made by the health secretary in the context of a “novel, highly infectious disease capable of causing death”.

'How lockdown was implemented is the key'

While Mr Dolan is not disputing that covid-19 can be fatal, the accountant-turned-entrepreneur says it is “how the UK was put into lockdown” that is the issue still at stake.

Moreover, as his case is that the government’s March 23rd lockdown decision was unlawful, even if lockdown was entirely lifted tomorrow, he told ContractorUK that his judicial review should still go ahead.

“I feel passionately about the rights which lockdown has taken away from everyone and that is why I am appealing,” Mr Dolan explained. 

“It cannot be right that the power to take away livelihoods, damage businesses and remove basic freedoms can be exercised by a government minister, with no adequate checks or balances.”

'Lockdown is not over'

As to accusations that his case is now ‘academic,’ due to the easing of restrictions (at odds with face coverings being mandated in all shops since only this Friday), the entrepreneur shrugged them off.

“The lockdown in Leicester – and any other city which is sent down the same path whenever the government so chooses – shows that is plainly not the case,” he said.

“[So] lockdown is not over. Even now, the government’s ‘guidance’ on what people can or cannot do is at odds with the laws they have enacted.”

'Millions of families adversely affected'

Mr Dolan, who owns or part-owns 10 UK businesses employing 600 people, is hopeful that the courts will soon show a better understanding of how life has been upended for so many.   

“It appears incredibly out of touch with the devastating consequences on society,” he said, referring to the High Court judgment earlier this month.

“The judge [even] suggested the impact on family life was modest, as loved-ones could catch up on video calls. This is a statement which will not sit well with the millions of families [adversely affected by the government’s response to covid-19].

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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