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Case Studies

R v Vance Miller

VANCE MILLER, self-styled largest privately owned kitchen retailer in the World, acquitted of alleged fraud

The case concerned the kitchen business conducted by Vance Miller from Maple Mill in Oldham and involved 3 counts of conspiracy to defraud customers and 10 alleged offences under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. The case arose following numerous raids on the business premises and the homes of Vance Miller and his co-defendants at 5am on the 29th November 2006 by 130 Police and Trading Standards officers in what at the time was described by the largest raid ever carried out by a Trading Standards office. Investigators removed equipment and 270,000 pages of paperwork essential to the running of the business. The central thrust of the accusations against Miller and the others was that they falsely represented that the kitchens which they sold were made of real or solid wood when they were not.

HHJ Foster QC, the presiding judge gave a 14 page written ruling which stated that the investigation by Oldham Trading Standards was misconceived from the start. The learned judge concluded that the prosecution was an abuse of the process of the court; and that on 2 of the counts of conspiracy there was no case for the defendants to answer. Earlier he had quashed the 10 Trade Descriptions Act allegations as out of time.

So ended a period of just over 3 years during which Vance Miller had fought to keep his business going, and his large workforce employed, despite numerous obstacles, including the potential damage to his reputation and despite having to prepare for his trial. However, he did have a high moment in December 2008, when another case also brought against him by Oldham Trading Standards, this time for selling allegedly dangerous quad bikes, collapsed after 10 days because of the inadequacy of the Oldham Trading Standards expert evidence.

Throughout he has been advised by Alan Neal of Burton Copeland’s serious fraud unit.

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