11 New Square is entirely focused on tax law, comprising a strong set of barristers who regularly handle high-value advisory work and litigation in key tax appeals. 'Excellent in oral argument and quick on his feet', Jonathan Peacock represented News Corp UK in a test-case against HMRC on the application of VAT zero-rating to digital newspapers. Hui Ling McCarthy QC continues to develop her silk practice and is leading the team for the Good Law Project in its challenge to Uber's VAT accounting. Also of note, Michael Ripley successfully represented SSE Generations against the revenue in a dispute over the amount of tax relief available for the expenditure in the construction of a hydro-electric power station in the Highlands.
Tax: corporate and VAT/indirect tax in London Bar
11 New Square
39 Essex Chambers is most noted for VAT and indirect tax work, although barristers are also instructed on contentious corporate tax. Nigel Pleming QC is often instructed by HMRC for advisory work, focusing on tax avoidance issues. Kelly Stricklin-Coutinho is a senior junior with EU and international tax expertise, and currently representing the taxpayer in Beebombs Ltd v HMRC, a case concerning the VAT treatment of the client's product, and whether a bee counts as an animal within the meaning in the 1994 VAT Act.
Blackstone Chambers is 'an outstanding set', housing an impressive group of indirect tax barristers. Most noted for his VAT practice, Sam Grodzinski QC is also strong for corporate tax, acting for Glencore in diverted profits tax case Glencore v HMRC. Kieron Beal QC is another name to note, with a practice spanning EU, competition, public and tax law.
Devereux is 'a good set with great strength in depth' has a sophisticated revenue-side practice, which sits alongside the strong taxpayer-side instructions in relation to both direct and indirect tax. Employment taxes are a major area of expertise for many members, with Timothy Brennan QC handling a high-level employment status case. Akash Nawbatt QC, who is instructed by HMRC and taxpayers, represented the revenue in Credit Suisse v HMRC, relating to the one-off bank payroll tax following the 2008 financial crisis. Aparna Nathan QC continues to represent the revenue in a number of high-profile cases including Walewski v HMRC, the first litigation on the mixed membership rules applying to LLPs.
With 'an all-star team', Essex Court Chambers is a leading light for contentious VAT. In addition to VAT litigation, members have vast experience in matters involving environmental taxation, customs duty and other aspects of indirect tax. Roderick Cordara QC is admitted to practice in England and Wales and Australia, and often appears in the European Court of Justice on tax-related matters. In a recent highlight, he acted for American Express against HMRC in a case concerning how Amex cards work in relation to merchants and cardholders. Edward Brown focuses on VAT and customs duty, acting for and against the revenue; he appeared for News UK in its VAT dispute with HMRC concerning the treatment of digital media. David Scorey QC acted for an NHS foundation trust in The Queen (on application of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust) v The Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs, successfully arguing that it was eligible for a recovery for the input tax on its car leasing scheme.
'Well known for tax advocacy and a commercial approach', Field Court Tax Chambers has a dynamic practice that covers the entirety of UK tax law, double taxation and tax-related human rights law, from advisory and litigation perspectives. Head of chambers Patrick Soares has an active advisory practice in relation to the structuring of major land transactions. In Andrew Davies & others v HMRC, Patrick Way QC represented the taxpayer in relation to an application of a transfer of assets abroad in the context of pensions. Imran Afzal, who is on the treasury B panel, represented the Mauritius revenue authority in Avago Technologies Trading Ltd v Mauritius Revenue Authority, a matter concerning the transfer pricing of cross-border payments for IP rights.
'Well-known and respected, with strength in depth', Gray's Inn Tax Chambers is home to barristers focusing on all areas of direct and indirect tax, as well as private client work. Members act for both the revenue and taxpayer before the UK courts, but also have experience in Hong Kong. Litigation is a key pillar of chambers' work, but there is also a substantial advisory practice. 'Powerful advocate' Nicola Shaw QC has a broad contentious tax practice that extends to judicial review. Laurent Sykes QC splits his time between advisory work and litigation, assisting clients with employment, corporate and business tax issues. Nikhil Mehta not only has decades of experience of UK and Indian taxation but also in multinational tax matters generally. Rising star Laura Inglis regularly appears before the high court and first-tier tribunal, and is developing an increasingly impressive contentious corporate tax practice.
Indirect tax is a speciality of the 'very smoothly run' Monckton Chambers, which houses impressive advocates who regularly act for taxpayers and the revenue. Melanie Hall QC continues to act in cutting-edge cases, and successfully represented SAW Education before the Supreme Court in SAE Education Ltd v Commissioners of Revenue and Customs, a case clarifying tax law on what is a college or university. Valentina Sloane QC, who specialises in the intersection between EU law, tax, and procurement, represented FMX at the Supreme Court in HMRC v FMX, a case on customs duties and limitation periods. Senior junior Peter Mantle has a strong indirect tax practice and was recently re-appointed to the treasury A panel.
Pump Court Tax Chambers, 'a fantastic set and which never fails to deliver', stands out for its deep expertise in VAT and other indirect taxes, handling high-profile cases in relation to landfill, and gaming taxes. Highlights for Roger Thomas QC included Zipvit v HMRC, where he represented the claimant, as a trade customer of Royal Mail, in the Supreme Court to recover input tax on supplies made over a 30-year period. Amid a prolific year, Andrew Hitchmough QC led Barbara Belgrano in Hastings Insurance Service Ltd v HMRC, successfully arguing for the taxpayer that VAT can be reclaimed on insurance policies supplied from Gibraltar. Also of note, Zizhen Yang is developing a strong reputation in the indirect tax world.
Temple Tax Chambers is 'an excellent set with efficient, approachable, helpful clerks'. Members are instructed on direct and indirect, contentious and non-contentious matters, most notably in relation to corporate and employment tax. Head of chambers Alun James and Michael Sherry are recommended for their corporate tax advisory practices, while Jonathan Schwarz stands out for international tax. In the lower tribunal case of Albatel Ltd v HMRC, Keith Gordon successfully represented Scottish television presenter and journalist Lorraine Kelly in a high-profile £1.2m case concerning IR35 rules, specifically, whether Kelly was self-employed or an employee of ITV.