Tax: corporate and VAT/indirect tax in London Bar
39 Essex Chambers is noted for an outstanding offering in VAT and other indirect tax disputes, drawing as it does on significant experts within the set, including Timothy Lyons QC, who is 'a recognised leader in customs law'. Kelly Stricklin-Coutinho's practice encompasses EU and International Tax, corporate tax, income tax, VAT, customs and environmental taxes. In a recent development, Alison Foster QC has been appointed a High Court judge.
Blackstone Chambers is 'clearly able to put out strong numbers in some of the biggest cases'. Although representing a significant number of taxpayers, members of chambers also act regularly for HMRC, with a particular focus on VAT cases. Highlights for Sam Grodzinski QC, 'a superstar for public law tax work', include defending Uber in Maugham v Uber, where he is defending a claim seeking a declaration by the High Court as to whether Uber is liable for VAT. He is also acting for the Revenue before the Supreme Court in Zipvit v HMRC in an appeal concerning the right to reclaim embedded input tax, following on from HMRC's success in the Court of Appeal.
Essex Court Chambers is noted for its work in indirect tax disputes, acting for the taxpayers in cases involving VAT, Goods and Services Tax (GST), Landfill Tax, Insurance Premium Tax, and Customs Duty. Major VAT cases for Roderick Cordara QC include acting for the taxpayer in American Express v HMRC, conducting an analysis on the relationship between merchants, American Express and Cardholder, with £50m at stake; and Safestore in Safestore v HMRC, an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal in a case concerning the status of insurance arrangements made through the client for its customers' goods.
Members of Monckton Chambers regularly act for taxpayers and HMRC, standing out in VAT and other indirect tax cases that intersect with EU, human rights, and public law. Melanie Hall QC was instructed HMRC v Fortyseven Park Street, where she represented Marriott Hotel Group USA, in a case which clarified whether timeshare interests in luxury hotels fall within the hotel rather than the property sector. She also appeared before the Supreme Court in SAE Limited v HMRC, a case which confirmed that the client is VAT exempt because it supplies a university education. 2019 saw Valentina Sloane QC take silk.
'The Rolls-Royce of tax chambers', Gray's Inn Tax Chambers houses experts in all areas of direct and indirect tax, with members acting for both the taxpayer and the Revenue. Setting the chambers apart, members are regularly instructed on heavyweight advisory work including major cross-border corporate reorganisations and transfer pricing issues. In relation to UK tax, the set has experience of appearing before the UK Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice, while members have also appeared in other jurisdictions, including Hong Kong. 'Hugely impressive' Nicola Shaw QC (who is 'highly respected by HMRC and the tax tribunal judges') and David Goldberg QC ('a key player with superb analytical skills and a very engaging advocate') are silks to note; while in terms of juniors, Conrad McDonnell is commended for his 'astonishing intellect' and the 'phenomenal speed with which he is able to deliver advice', while 'exceptional litigator' Michael Firth stands out for providing 'consistently incisive and considered opinions'.
Pump Court Tax Chambers is the 'number one set for tax in terms of strength in depth, areas of specialism, and quality of counsel', and has 'many stars and excellent, commercial clerks who manage client relationships well'. Members are consistently involved in high-profile group litigations, most recently including FII GLO, a test case challenging the UK’s legislation on the taxation of dividends paid into the UK by foreign subsidiaries of UK companies in which David Ewart QC and Rupert Baldry QC acted for HMRC; and MODS Group Litigation, a challenge to the UK’s Corporate Manufactured Overseas Dividend Scheme, where Baldry QC was instructed by the Revenue. In 2019, David Yates QC and James Rivett QC took silk, adding to an already strong selection of Queen's Counsel in chambers, including David Milne QC, who has 'a very good rapport with judges', and 'class-act' Kevin Prosser QC. The 'enormously impressive' Zizhen Yang is a junior of note, currently representing the taxpayer in its landfill tax appeal before the Upper Tier Tax Tribunal in Devon Waste Management Ltd and Biffa v HMRC.
11 New Square is 'a high-quality set', the members of which have both extensive tax advisory practices and a strong litigation offering. The set's barristers also regularly advise on tax-efficient structuring of transactions and on fiscal laws in other jurisdictions, including Hong Kong and across Europe, demonstrating a real strength in depth for tax matters. In HMRC v Tesco, Hui Ling McCarthy QC successfully acted for the supermarket before the Upper Tribunal, leading to a ruling that confirmed that the scheme administrator of Tesco's Clubcard scheme is able to recover input tax on payments it makes to a range of reward partners. Francis Fitzpatrick QC is a noted expert in landfill tax, praised for his ability to 'advise both on the technical issues and how the matter may be perceived by the court'.
Members of Devereux are instructed in contentious and non-contentious direct and indirect tax cases. Able to draw on their wider expertise in employment law, commercial disputes, and professional negligence in cross-over matters, the set is able to assist clients in matters involving the minimum wage and employment status, as well as on the tax aspects of negligence claims against promoters of fraudulent tax schemes. Members have been involved in several standout cases, including HMRC v Higgins, where Christopher Stone appeared for the Revenue before the Upper Tribunal, in a case concerning the application of principal private residence relief from capital gains tax on the disposal of a main residence. In PGMOL v HMRC, a case in which Jolyon Maugham QC and Georgia Hicks appeared for the taxpayer, they successfully argued before the First-tier Tribunal that 'National Group' referees in major sporting leagues are self-employed Felicity Cullen QC is a key name, with a client list that includes a number of owner-managed businesses. Aparna Nathan QC took silk in 2019.
Field Court Tax Chambers is 'a very user-friendly set, that has a strong advisory practice'. Members have particular expertise in double taxation and tax-related human rights law, while head of chambers Patrick Soares specialises in the structuring of major land transactions in the UK and in offshore structures. On the contentious front, international tax expert Philip Baker QC regularly appears before domestic and foreign courts, with recent cases in Mauritius and Singapore; he acted for the Revenue in BAT Industries plc v HMRC, a case regarding tax on compound interest.
Members of Temple Tax Chambers are all 'easy to instruct and to consult with' and demonstrate expertise in all areas of direct and indirect commercial taxation, according to instructing solicitors. In addition to strong advisory work, members are involved in a number of high-profile matters for taxpayers. Jonathan Schwarz appeared in Fowler v HMRC, a case revolving around the interpretation of tax treaties that concern the UK taxation of South African divers working in the UK sector of the North Sea. Lyndsey Frawley was instructed in BT PLC v HMRC, which regards a refund for overpaid VAT as a result of the UK's failure to implement an EU compliant bad relief regime between 1978 and 1989. Also of note, David Southern QC specialises in tax litigation, corporate finance, judicial review, and has substantial experience in cases involving overseas jurisdictions.