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  1. Tax litigation and investigations
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Clifford Chance is β€˜very well placed to offer useful insights on complex cross-border issues’. Practice head Liesl Fichardt* – who is noted for her β€˜invaluable ability to identify what will persuade a court in her client’s interests’ – has been particularly active in the financial services and media sectors; Credit Suisse, Sky and Global Radio are new clients. *Since publication, Liesl Fichardt has joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

β€˜Top-tier firm’ Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP stands out for the breadth of its litigation and pre-litigation expertise. Recent highlights for practice head Helen Buchanan include advising various international banks on tax and regulatory investigations into dividend as well as arbitrage transactions, and acting for a UK corporation in employment tax disputes. Murray Clayson is a key contact for contentious transfer pricing matters.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has wide-ranging expertise, making it a go-to choice for tax investigations and litigation of all stripes. Practice head Heather Gething and senior associate Nick Clayton (who are β€˜knowledgeable, responsive and easy to work with’) are representing Bernard Ecclestone in High Court claims challenging HMRC’s rescission of a 2008 settlement agreement. Bank of Ireland and G4S Cash Solutions are also clients.

β€˜Service-minded’ boutique firm Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP is β€˜a market leader in EU-related tax litigation’; it is currently handling a number of high-profile corporation tax group litigation orders (GLO), including the Franked Investment Income GLO and the Prudential Assurance Company Supreme Court case. Simon Whitehead, Paul Farmer and Phillippe Freund β€˜work well together as a team in managing a case’. The firm’s recruitment of Daniel Margolin QC from Maitland Chambers further strengthens its silk-level capability, which includes the β€˜extremely professional and responsive’ Graham Aaronson QC.

Pinsent Masons LLP attracts praise for its β€˜excellent technical knowledge, experience and negotiating abilities’. The β€˜proactive’ Jason Collins heads the sizeable team, which includes Stuart Walsh (who β€˜exudes competence and ability’) and the β€˜highly intelligent’ Ian Hyde, who relocated to London from Birmingham. The practice is at the forefront of challenging HMRC’s new powers to issue advanced payment notices. Key clients include BT Pensions Group and Avon Cosmetics.

Slaughter and May’s β€˜excellent’ multi-disciplinary tax disputes team includes leading litigator Sarah Lee; tax practice head Sara Luder, who advised Santander on two appeals against HMRC regarding structured finance transactions; Tony Beare, who was recently appointed part-time judge in the First Tier Tribunal; and the highly regarded Steve Edge, who has recently handled various contentious transfer pricing matters.

Fieldfisher provides a β€˜particularly high standard’ of service to a broad range of clients including RCI Europe, for which it represented in an ECJ dispute on the tax classifications of timeshare services, and Invamed Group, for which it acted on a customs duty challenge. Hartley Foster, George Gillham and Derek Hill, who is now focused on advising individuals involved in film partnerships, are all recommended.

Hogan Lovells International LLP is singled out for its β€˜constant engagement to ensure client needs are addressed’. The tax team acts alongside the firm’s public law group in high-profile cases including the recent challenge to the limit imposed by the Finance Act 2014 on tax reliefs for North Sea UK drilling services companies. Practice head Rupert Shiers is β€˜a highly accomplished operator’ with deep expertise. Lee Squires is a key contact for indirect tax disputes.

Key highlights for PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP included practice head Mark Whitehouse’s work in a group litigation concerning a stamp duty reserve tax and challenge against HMRC; and David Anderson’s work for Drax Power and Infinis Energy Holdings in a judicial review of the decision to remove a renewable energy tax exemption.

RPC’s β€˜highly practical team’ is β€˜responsive without compromising on the ability to deliver high-quality analysis and solutions’. β€˜Dynamic’ team head Adam Craggs is noted for his β€˜clear and practical’ advice; he is representing over 2,000 IT contractors in judicial review proceedings against HMRC relating to its accelerated payment notices, and continues to act for Greene King in its dispute with the Revenue over the tax treatment of its intra-group finance arrangements.

Simmons & Simmons’ practice, led by β€˜excellent tactician and strategist’ Nick Skerrett, continued its impressive growth in 2015. In a highlight matter, the practice advised the Investment Association (UK), among others, on behalf of 20 investment managers and banks in their high-profile dispute with the Indian Income Tax Commissioners. Caritas Anchor House and BPP Holdings are also clients.

Ashurst is β€˜highly professional in its approach to tax litigation and investigations’. Key contacts include Nicholas Gardner, who attracts praise for his β€˜forensic mind and eye for detail’; Alexander Cox, who is acting for Gala Coral in VAT litigation; and Paul Miller, who is a longstanding adviser to Ocean Finance founder Paul Newey.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s contentious tax team includes the β€˜determined’ Neal Todd and highly regarded VAT expert Alan Sinyor, as well as very active senior associates such as Kate Ison, who acts for a broad range of corporate and financial clients, and Kunal Vyas, who regularly advises on structured asset finance disputes.

At DLA Piper, Richard Woolich regularly handles VAT-related disputes, while Simon Airey, who attracts praise for his β€˜wealth of experience’, specialises in tax and fraud investigations for private individuals and financial institutions.

Eversheds LLP’s β€˜excellent, client-focused team’ is headed by indirect tax specialist Giles Salmond, whose recent clients include Mueller Europe and MG Rover Group.

β€˜Clients always feel secure’ with KPMG LLP’s β€˜outstanding tax litigation team’, which is led by β€˜excellent strategist’ Amanda Brown. Recent cases span landfill tax, VAT and residency issues. The Open University and Volkswagen Financial Services are clients.

Linklaters LLP’s multi-disciplinary team includes transactional tax specialist Mark Kingstone, litigator Michael Sanders and corporate tax expert Dominic Winter. BP, Vodafone and Citigroup are clients.

At Macfarlanes LLP, recently promoted partner Gideon Sanitt, who β€˜impresses with his common-sense, pragmatic approach to dealing with HMRC’, coordinates disputes work across the firm’s sizeable tax practice.

Mishcon de Reya LLP’s contentious tax team was strengthened by the recruitment of β€˜creative and determined tax litigator’ Leslie Allen from DLA Piper. He joins a team that includes consultant Dario Garcia, who is a key contact for indirect tax disputes relating to financial services.

Angela Savin and Dominic Stuttaford are the key contacts at Norton Rose Fulbright. Recent highlights include acting for Lloyds Bank in a case related to capital allowances in an overseas leasing transaction, and BMW in a VAT repayment dispute.

Stewarts Law LLP stands out for its β€˜wealth of experience and strong team of very impressive lawyers’. Led by the β€˜very client-friendly, responsive and knowledgeable’ David Pickstone, the practice has been representing individual contributors to tax mitigation schemes in defending them against the HMRC and in claims against the promoters of such schemes.

The β€˜very strategic and client-oriented’ team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges includes litigator Hannah Field-Lowes, who is acting for Ingenious Games in its high-profile Β£1bn dispute with HMRC; the β€˜thoughtful and responsive’ Oliver Walker, who secured a Court of Appeal victory for The Littlewoods Group in its long-running payment of compound interest on overpaid VAT against the Revenue; and the β€˜exceptionally professional and efficient’ Jamie Maples.

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