Back to United Kingdom - The Bar

Leading Silks

Kieron Beal KC – Blackstone Chambers ‘Kieron is an outstanding advocate. Incisive, direct and compelling in his case presentation; he has all of the relevant authorities at his finger-tips, knowing just where and when to push a particular point. ’
Roderick Cordara KC – Essex Court Chambers ‘Roderick is an eloquent speaker and can weave an argument on behalf of his clients; drawing from his myriad of knowledge of the relevant case law, vastly enhanced by the fact that in many of the landmark cases, it was he who acted for the taxpayer. ’
Sam Grodzinski KC – Blackstone Chambers ‘Sam is an extremely talented and diligent barrister. His ability to sway judges, at all levels, with persuasive and compelling advocacy is to be commended. ’
Melanie Hall KC – Monckton Chambers ‘An exemplary silk, Melanie’s knowledge of the law and relevant procedure is second to none and she addresses the court with consummate elegance. She quickly identifies pertinent issues and does not get sidetracked by fluff or bluster. As an advocate, solicitors can think of none better; she is extremely client friendly and willingly takes time to discuss and explain things in an effortless manner. ’
Andrew Hitchmough KC – Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘A silk at the top of his game, Andrew is a great team player and is extremely good technically. ’
Nicola Shaw KC – Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers ‘Nicola is a sensational advocate, always tough in court and forceful in her submissions. She is really able when it comes to sifting complex material and presenting complex arguments. ’
Rupert Baldry KC – Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘Rupert is a marvellous silk who clearly sets out his view and never sits on the fence. ’
Julian Ghosh KC – One Essex Court ‘An exceedingly accomplished oral advocate, Julian has the court’s ear and is effective in dealing with witnesses, particularly in cross-examination. ’
Philip Moser KC – Monckton Chambers ‘Philip’s strength is his court presence; he is a master at appellate level and his clients are always impressed by the fact that he is a true silk. ’
Valentina Sloane KCMonckton Chambers ‘Valentina is becoming the go-to silk for customs and VAT disputes. With a tireless work ethic and effortless advocacy style, she is a delight to work with.’
Timothy Lyons KC – 39 Essex Chambers ‘Timothy is an extremely effective and intelligent advocate who gives very pragmatic advice. ’
James Rivett KC – Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘James is an incredibly focused silk who possesses a razor sharp mind. He is a particularly able tax technician and is extremely effective in cross-examination. ’
Laurent Sykes KC – Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers ‘A gifted advocate who provides clear and thorough advice, Laurent’s attention to detail and dedication to a case is second to none. ’
David Yates KCPump Court Tax Chambers ‘David is extremely easy to work with, always offering clear and succinct advice. ’

2022 Silks

Edward Brown KC – Essex Court ChambersEdward’s greatest strength is an ability to quickly get under the skin of a complex case, identify the relevant issues and formulate a plan accordingly. Courts generally respond well to his well thought out and no-nonsense approach to litigation.

Leading Juniors

Raymond Hill Monckton Chambers ‘As well as a persuasive advocate, Raymond is extremely thorough and shows great attention to detail. He is well prepared and always manoeuvres his way around lengthy bundles with ease. ’
Marika Lemos Devereux ‘Marika is diligent, thorough, well-prepared and always on top of her brief. ’
Barbara Belgrano Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘Barbara is a go-to barrister for complex VAT disputes; she is passionate and immerses herself in the facts of the case, really making her client feel that she is invested in their success.’
Tim Brown – Temple Tax Chambers ‘Tim possesses excellent technical knowledge, especially in the MTIC fraud area of VAT. He is always well prepared and takes a polite but firm approach during the cross-examination of witnesses. ’
James Henderson Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘James is extremely personable, proactive and his advice is very practical in terms of assisting clients to understand the complexities of their tax disputes, interactions with HMRC and the tax appeal process. ’
Brendan Mcgurk Monckton Chambers ‘Brendan is a fantastic advocate, his oral submissions are particularly persuasive and he is adept at pitching his submissions so that they contain the appropriate level of detail. ’
Jeremy White Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘Jeremy knows everything there is to know about excise duty. ’
David Bedenham – 11KBW ‘David knows VAT and excise better than any other junior barrister. He is superb with clients and judges alike, incisive and commercial in his advice and a top advocate; undoubtedly a silk of the near future. ’
Thomas Chacko Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘Thomas is very knowledgeable, personable and capable of explaining complex matters in simple terms. ’
Sadiya Choudhury Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘Sadiya is a go-to counsel for contentious tax matters; not only is she technically brilliant in respect of the relevant law, but her advice is always practical, focused on the client’s needs and clearly explained in an accessible way. ’
Denis Edwards – Temple Tax Chambers ‘Dennis is an excellent Tax and VAT barrister, extremely pragmatic and able to articulate complex matters very clearly. He is extremely impressive in the level of knowledge and commercial expertise he is able to bring to his advice. ’
Ben Elliott Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘Ben is high-powered intellectually and a forceful advocate. He works extremely hard and already has a wide experience in the tax field; he is a silk in the making. ’
Michael Firth Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers ‘Michael brings brilliant analysis, a focused zero waffle approach; ultimately building great client relationships and producing a quality track record. ’
Andrew Legg Essex Court ChambersAndrew produces excellent submissions and is particularly impressive in the convincing way he deals with difficult points presented by the court.
Rebecca Murray Devereux ‘Rebecca adopts a straightforward approach to complex matters, addressing all issues with maximum simplicity and the minimum of fuss. ’
Simon Pritchard Blackstone Chambers ‘Simon is a junior who always provides fantastic support and can always be relied upon to consider an issue thoroughly and imaginatively. ’
Kelly Stricklin-Coutinho 39 Essex Chambers ‘Kelly provides very impressive commercial advice and is an exquisite advocate. While for now she is a fantastic junior to add structure to a team, she will no doubt be knocking on the door of silk soon enough. ’
Edward Waldegrave - 1 Crown Office Row  ‘Edward is a fantastic barrister; he is clear, concise, persuasive and always well prepared. ’

Rising Stars

Joshua Carey – Devereux ‘Josh is particularly skilled on VAT matters and his advice is extremely pragmatic. ’
Stephen Donnelly Essex Court Chambers ‘An exceptional junior, Stephen takes on difficult and time-sensitive tasks without hesitation and delivers insightful and thorough results. He has remarkable research and drafting skills, which he combines with a particularly impressive in-depth knowledge of tax law. ’
Quinlan Windle Pump Court Tax Chambers ‘Quinlan is responsive and provides clear and succinct advice, displaying a thorough understanding of the legal context and the factual circumstances of the case. ’

Tax: VAT and excise in London Bar

11 New Square

11 New Square has a long-standing reputation as a specialist tax set, deliberately maintaining a small but highly skilled team who utilise their expertise to regularly instruct on indirect tax matters for the Big Four and other accountancy firms, as well as City and regional law firms. Jonathan Peacock KC has over 30 years experience providing tax advice to both private and public clients, frequently appearing before the Supreme Court acting for and against the UK government on tax avoidance matters. Hui Ling McCarthy KC represented the Revenue before the Supreme Court in HMRC v Tooth, a test-case dealing with the concept of staleness and what it means for a tax return to contain a deliberate inaccuracy; with HMRC estimating that more than £1bn of tax turned on this question. Junior John Brinsmead-Stockham KC will appear before the FTT in Lyons v HMRC, one of a number of cases concerning the UK residency test and whether a taxpayer ceases to be a resident in the UK for tax purposes.

Essex Court Chambers

Essex Court Chambers  includes experienced members in the field of VAT and indirect tax, with specialist expertise in areas relating to customs duty, environmental tax and restitution work. Roderick Cordara KC represented the claimants, comprising over 350 local authorities and businesses, in the extremely significant Royal Mail Group Litigation before the Court of Appeal; with Cordara KC being successful on cross-appeal and the matter subsequently being decided by the CJEU. Andrew Legg acted in a complex and high value VAT dispute in Saint-Gobain Building Distribution Ltd v HMRC, with the Upper Tribunal ruling that a historical bad debt relief claim approaching £10m could not be made due to a lack of supporting evidence. Edward Brown KC, who has this year taken silk, appeared before the Court of Appeal in News UK v HMRC, the first VAT dispute to concern the supply of electronic copies of newspapers.



‘Excellent set and Counsel always bend over backwards to make themselves available.


‘Clerks are very efficient and responsive.

Monckton Chambers

Monckton Chambers boasts ‘a number of excellent barristers at a senior and junior level’, offering an unrivalled breadth of experience in indirect tax matters; combining VAT expertise with extensive knowledge of EU, human rights and public law. Melanie Hall KC regularly utilises her wealth of knowledge across the tax realm to litigate on emerging and nuanced areas such as cryptocurrency. Valentina Sloane KC is acting for the Swedish drinks maker in Kopparberg and Cider of Sweden v HMRC, a High Court claim against the UK for an alleged breach of EU law concerning post-duty point dilution which could result in subsequent claims worth hundreds of millions. In Devon Waste Management Ltd & Others v HMRC, Hall KC and Brendan McGurk successfully represented HMRC in the significant test-case challenge brought by leading landfill operators who sought repayment of £3bn of allegedly overpaid landfill tax. Peter Mantle represented the appellant in The Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation v HMRC, seeing the Upper Tribunal declare that the sale of goods such as ice cream sold during intervals are not includable when recovering VAT input tax associated with production costs.



‘Monckton is a very strong set with a number of fantastic barristers at a senior and junior level.

‘They are well known for VAT work and have some outstanding people.

‘Monckton Chambers is excellent. The quality, breadth and depth of Counsel at both senior and junior level is reassuringly consistent.

‘The set is well known for VAT, customs and excise and its particular expertise in EU law and its application in the indirect tax world.

‘There is a great deal of in-depth expertise in the set and we regard them as our go to set for tax work.


‘Counsel are readily accessible through an efficient and effective team of clerks, John Keegan being a model example of a modern clerk with a thorough knowledge of Counsel’s specialisms and a wonderful ability to work with clients to identify, clarify and satisfy their requirements.

Pump Court Tax Chambers

Pump Court Tax Chambers offers specialist knowledge across the gamut of VAT and indirect tax matters, including an increasing focus on reclaim cases, gaming duty, landfill tax and HMRC’s crackdown on abusive VAT schemes. Roger Thomas KC successfully represented the taxpayer before the Supreme Court in Balhousie Holdings Ltd v HMRC, a case which not only had significant implications for the interpretation of the VAT Act but also clarified that the “statutory purpose test” applied to HMRC as much as taxpayers. Rupert Baldry KC and Barbara Belgrano represented the appellant in Jazztel v HMRC, with the Court of Appeal addressing the incompatibility of features of the UK’s stamp duty regime with European legislation. Zizhen Yang acted in Devon Waste Management Ltd & Others v HMRC, a significant decision for the waste management industry following more than a decade of disputes between landfill operators and HMRC regarding the landfill tax. Sadiya Choudhury has developed an impressive specialism in customs and excise duties and was recently appointed to the Attorney General’s A panel.



‘Pump Court Tax Chambers is the leading tax set and we instruct them on many matters of indirect tax.

‘Pump Court are a reliable set with all-star performers across al areas.

‘The breadth of expertise across Chambers is incredible.

‘Pump Court Tax Chambers are the leaders in this field and there is always a suitably experienced Counsel available in relation to whatever specialist advice is needed.


‘Excellent, they always put us in contact with the right barrister.

‘John Poysner is a fantastic clerk who is always professional and friendly.


With experienced members advising across the entire field of VAT and indirect tax matters, Devereux acts for high-profile companies, professional clients, individual taxpayers as well as the UK government. The set's tax team has been bolstered by the addition of Howard Watkinson from 2 Hare Court, who appeared before the Court of Appeal in Eynsham Cricket Club v HMRC, a complex VAT charity case regarding whether community amateur sports clubs were eligible for zero-rating relief. Barrie Akin acted for the appellant in Mitchell & Bell v HMRC, the Upper Tribunal considering not only a company overclaiming VAT credits in suspicious circumstances but also complicated procedural matters, specifically the exclusion of evidence and disclosure of potentially significant documents. Felicity Cullen KC is a key name at silk level.


A well-respected tax set, Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers has a strong reputation for its extensive coverage of the indirect tax sector; acting for high-profile private clients and government agencies on complex matters related to VAT, customs and excise duties, landfill and stamp tax and judicial reviews relating to EU VAT law. Nicola Shaw KC has a practice which spans all contentious tax issues, including judicial review and represents clients from the First-Tier Tribunal through to the European Court of Justice. Laurent Sykes KC and Michael Firth represented the claimants in Test Claimants v Royal Mail Group Ltd, the High Court considering whether over 50 years of Royal Mail’s supplies were tax exempt as assumed and whether Royal Mail is an “emanation of the State” for EU law purposes.



‘The best tax set at the Bar.


‘The clerks are amazing.

Temple Tax Chambers

Temple Tax Chambers has an ‘excellent‘ tax offering, covering the range of indirect tax matters and working for significant clients in both the public and private sector. Tim Brown represented the appellant before the First-Tier Tribunal in Tasca Tankers Ltd v HMRC, successfully convincing the court to reject the HMRC’s application to strike out the case on the basis that it had no chance of success; the respondent subsequently received permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. In Naghshineh v HMRC, Denis Edwards appeared before the Court of Appeal in the first case before senior courts to consider the availability of sideways loss relief for farming losses under Section 68 of the Income Tax Act.



‘Brilliant Chambers, not just providing advice on particular matters but frequent support on training and ad-hoc issues.


‘Very professional and responsive.

‘Claire James is particularly impressive, manages the daily cases very well and always goes the extra mile to respond and assist on matters.

39 Essex Chambers

39 Essex Chambers provides a tailored and experienced tax offering, with members active in a broad range of matters across VAT and indirect tax. Timothy Lyons KC is involved in Naghshineh v HMRC, a significant case before the Court of Appeal which will provide a definitive ruling on the interpretation of relevant provisions of the VAT Act. Kelly Stricklin-Coutinho is a senior junior with widely recognised expertise in tax, acting in the full range of disputes including tax tribunals, High Court claims, judicial review and matters with complex EU law crossover.



‘Alastair Davidson is exceptional.

‘Sheraton Doyle is a very competent clerk.

Blackstone Chambers

In the tax space, a number of members Blackstone Chambers members appear from the First-Tier Tribunal through to the Supreme Court and European Court of Justice on the most contentious indirect tax disputes. Sam Grodzinski KC appeared before the Supreme Court in the long-running VAT dispute worth over £1 billion, with Zipvit Ltd v HMRC being one of the last cases to be referred to the CJEU before Brexit. Fellow silk Kieron Beal KC also featured in the Supreme Court, this time in the highly contentious Balhousie Holdings Ltd v HMRC, representing the respondent in an appeal concerning the VAT treatment of a sale and leaseback transaction involving a care home.



‘Blackstone is an outstanding set, full of leading experts. They always have the right person for every issue and they never let you down or leave you hanging. ’

‘A very well-run set of Chambers.


‘Particular credit should go to the clerks and to the Chambers management team, including Matt Swallow, who is exceptional at managing and developing their commercial relationships.

‘The clerks are very responsive and helpful.