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VAT and indirect tax in London

Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie has a sizeable VAT and indirect tax team that offers a strong combination of 'technical expertise, commercial insight and a strong commitment to client service'The team advises on M&A transactions, international VAT mandates, and VAT and tax enquiries with HMRC. Another area of focus for the practice is advising on the VAT aspects of projects post Brexit. VAT specialist Mark Delaney heads the tax practice and has a strong background in the technology, international trade and services, information communications, and energy and environment sectors. Mark Agnew heads the VAT team and has in-depth knowledge of the financial services sector, particularly in relation to banking and payment services. David Jamieson has extensive experience handling contentious VAT work, particularly for clients in the financial services, telecoms and e-commerce sectors. Adam Peacock has a broad VAT and indirect tax practice and Kathryn Sewell specialises in the VAT aspects of reorganisations, planning and structuring.

Practice head(s):

Mark Delaney; Mark Agnew; David Jamieson

Other key lawyers:

Adam Peacock; Kathryn Sewell

Testimonials

The VAT and indirect tax team have a very good mix of technical expertise, commercial insight and a strong commitment to client service. They also have good litigation experience, having guided clients through complex and difficult hearings.’

Mark Delaney and David Jamieson are both technically very able and, equally importantly, very good with clients, ensuring that they understand their clients’ business and their needs. They are a class act.’

Mark Delaney, Adam Peacock and Kathryn Sewell are exceptional talents as individuals but even better as a unit! They are committed, focused, put themselves in our shoes and that is a real bonus. The knowledge and trust of the business they have built up makes them stand out from competitors. It is very difficult to look elsewhere because we know how much time and effort we’d have to put in to obtain the same level of quality service. They are truly valued!’

I have really enjoyed working with both the corporate and VAT teams at Baker McKenzie. I think potential clients would be attracted to their accessible, diligent and enthusiastic mentality.’

The individuals I have worked with at Baker McKenzie were all very approachable, fun to work with and extremely committed.’

The Baker McKenzie team is hands-on, knowledgeable, and fun to work with. They have a proven track record and strong technical expertise in the IT industry as well as a great understanding of the gig economy challenges. The team is always highly engaged and perfectly understands the client’s needs.’

I worked with David Jamieson and Kathryn Sewell. They both have a perfect combination of strong technical expertise and a solution-oriented approach. Their availability and engagement make them exceptionally good VAT advisers. The have very in-depth knowledge of the gig economy.’

Key clients

Baker Hughes

GlaxoSmithKline

Hutchison 3G Limited

LVMH

Marriott

Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance LLP's VAT and indirect tax team has a well-established presence in the market, with a strong client base that covers a wide range of sectors including real estate, financial services, telecoms and more. David Saleh heads the practice and advises on both the contentious and non-contentious sides of VAT and indirect tax. Saleh has a broad UK and international tax structuring practice and specialises in real estate tax. Director Simon Corzberg advises across the full spectrum of VAT and assists clients in various industries including real estate, finance, energy and charity. Senior associate Edward Page is also noted and advises on a range of corporate transactions including acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures and cross-border investments. Clients praise the team for its 'strong work ethic'.

Practice head(s):

David Saleh

Other key lawyers:

Simon Corzberg; Edward Page

Testimonials

A large team of highly intelligent, capable lawyers with a strong work ethic.’

‘They have strength and depth and technical knowledge of VAT and indirect tax that is helpful for clients unfamiliar with the UK tax regime and structuring. They take the time to discuss issues, and then follow up with in-depth advice. They have the ability to conduct virtual meetings to share screens and provide more detailed analysis.’

‘David Saleh’s technical understanding of indirect tax and VAT is of an extremely high level. He makes himself available, takes the time to explain and find solutions, and has a proactive attitude to his work. His advice is clear, transparent and user friendly for those that aren’t familiar with UK tax.’

Key clients

Partners Group

NorthWest Healthcare Properties REIT

Nuveen Real Estate

Stanhope Plc

Hillwood Investment Properties

Mitsui Fudosan (UK) Limited

Bank of Scotland

Citibank

Union National Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised Partners Group, acting on behalf of its clients, on the acquisition of a portfolio of 27 light industrial properties in the UK from real estate investor Paloma Capital for £253m.
  • Advised NorthWest Healthcare Properties REIT on the asset acquisition of the freehold/long leasehold of six private hospitals across England for a consideration of £97.8m.
  • Advising Nuveen Real Estate as landlord on the letting of 13 floors, totalling more than 150,000 sq ft, at 70 St. Mary Axe to ten separate occupiers and delivering rents estimated in excess of £10,000,000 per annum in total.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP advises across the full spectrum of VAT disputes and VAT fraud, as well as niche areas of indirect tax such as aggregates levy. The practice showcases extensive litigation expertise with experience taking cases to the Supreme Court and Court of Justice of the European Union. Indirect tax specialist Stuart Walsh heads the contentious tax team. Steven Porter leads the tax investigations practice and handles disputes involving indirect taxes, direct taxes and property taxes. Other key names include Andrew Sackey, who specialises in tax fraud investigations, as well as Clara Boyd and Jake Landman; Boyd focuses on indirect tax disputes with HMRC and Landman, who made partner in March 2021, specialises in dealing with fraud in supply chains. Global tax group head Jason Collins left to join DLA Piper in summer 2021.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Walsh

Other key lawyers:

Steven Porter; Andrew Sackey; Clara Boyd; Jake Landman

Testimonials

‘Market leaders in indirect tax litigation.’

‘Stuart Walsh is extremely knowledgeable and a great tactician. He is a safe pair of hands.’

Key clients

NatWest Group

Cantor-Fitzgerald

E-Zec Medical Transport Services

Work highlights

  • Acted for NatWest Group on an £86m VAT dispute, with the potential for a further penalty up to 100% of the VAT, which is currently before the First-tier Tribunal.
  • Represented Cantor Fitzgerald (BGC Partners and Tower Bridge International Services) in a dispute with HMRC in relation to VAT on certain purchases of emissions allowances (carbon credits) issued under the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.
  • Advised E-zec Medical Transport Services Ltd on an appeal to the tax tribunal concerning the VAT treatment of patient transport services to customers, including multiple NHS Trusts.

Ashurst

Ashurst has a 'hardworking and technically knowledgeable' VAT and stamp duty land tax (SDLT) practice. The team showcases in-depth real estate sector expertise and advises on real estate acquisitions, financing, investment and development. Practice head Simon Swann has 'an encyclopaedic knowledge of SDLT'; he is a member of the Stamp Taxes Practitioners' Group and the British Property Federation's VAT Committee. Alexander Cox is another key individual to note and is 'highly recommended' for matters relating to equity, mezzanine and real estate funds. Nicholas Gardner also has a strong focus on private equity and Paul Miller advises on the tax aspects of debt capital markets, securitisations and structured finance products. Tim Gummer has particular expertise in real estate and oil and gas taxation.

Practice head(s):

Simon Swann

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Cox; Nicholas Gardner; Paul Miller; Tim Gummer

Testimonials

Simon Swann has an encyclopaedic knowledge of SDLT. Tim Gummer and Paul Miller are very strong on VAT, especially in the real estate sector. The team is very responsive and extremely knowledgeable. Bills are always as predicted.’

We have worked with the Ashurst tax team for well over ten years and across corporate tax, employment tax, VAT and stamp duty for a variety of different transactions, both domestic and international. Technically, the team are extremely strong, not just on tax but on understanding all the other factors impacting on the end result. Commercially, they understand our business and our objectives, tailoring their advice accordingly. They communicate well internally to ensure the wider Ashurst team is well informed and are a pleasure to work with from a personal perspective. The team is well respected by their peers at other firms and by senior counsel.’

Alex Cox is truly excellent from a technical and commercial perspective as well as being a pleasure to work with. Alex understands what we are aiming to achieve and his advice is always spot on. Very highly recommended!

The team we deal with is hardworking and technically knowledgeable, but they also advise with regard to the wider context of a scenario. This results in advice that is pragmatic and useful rather than being just what the letter of the law says. The team also proactively monitors for developments that might be relevant to our business and sends updates in addition to a commentary on the potential impact.’

Key clients

Balfour Beatty

Hastings Insurance

Thomas Cook – Hotels 4 U

Legacy Gala Coral companies

Ocean Finance (Paul Newey)

Eurazeo and Arax Properties

Telford Homes

Work highlights

  • Representing the legacy Gala Coral companies in ongoing VAT litigation.
  • Acted for Telford Homes on tax issues relating to its proposed regeneration of Chrisp Street Market in Tower Hamlets to deliver a new mixed-use regional centre.
  • Acting for Ocean Finance in long-running proceedings brought by HMRC relating to the scope of VAT abuse.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP has a sizeable VAT and indirect tax practice that advises clients on domestic and international VAT issues, SDLT, customs duties and other indirect taxes. The team's client base consists of investment banks, large multinationals, pension funds, real estate investment funds, property owners and investors. Elizabeth Bradley is the global head of tax and Alan Sinyor heads the VAT practice; Sinyor is 'strategic', 'extremely thorough' and an 'excellent VAT lawyer'. Richard Harbot is also noted and advises clients on the tax aspects of real estate, private equity and M&A transactions. Clients describe Kate Ison as 'outstandingly efficient, pragmatic and client focused'.

Practice head(s):

 Elizabeth Bradley

Other key lawyers:

Alan Sinyor; Richard Harbot; Matthew Poole; Paul Shaw; Mukul Chawla QC; Kate Ison

Testimonials

A very knowledgeable and innovative team, with both a broad practice and expertise.’

Alan Sinyor has a vast knowledge of VAT and is able to devise highly innovative solutions to difficult problems. He also has excellent experience in litigation against HMRC.’

Alan is strategic and very detailed in his advice. He is always extremely thorough and he explains the VAT implications in very clear and simple terms. We really appreciate his advice. He has a rare combination of analytical and practical skills and is an excellent VAT lawyer.’

The people I worked with were practical rather than just noting the legal position and were really helpful with negotiations. They were well prepared and understood the issues. They also worked with us, giving us options for completing the work to ensure we were obtaining the best value as we could complete part of the work ourselves.’

Kate Ison is outstandingly efficient, pragmatic and client focused. She just gets the job done. Alan Sinyor is a VAT specialist with unrivalled experience and knowledge. The clients enjoy the benefits of both working closely together.’

Key clients

Tesco

TfL

Homes England (formerly known as the Homes and Communities Agency)

Link

The Crown Estate

Aviva

Greater London Authority

Derwent

London Legacy Development Corporation

St Martin’s

Clearbell

Hannover Leasing

CMS

CMS has a 'skilled and highly technical' VAT and indirect tax practice with a broad sector expertise, ranging from energy and infrastructure to life sciences and healthcare. The practice specialises in real estate investment trusts (REITs) and has a dedicated REITs and structured transactions team; Phil Nicklin's June 2020 arrival on the team from Deloitte has significantly bolstered its offering in this space. Stephen Hignett co-heads the tax group and has extensive experience in the TV, music and gambling sectors, while fellow co-head Aaron Fairhurst has industry knowledge of the energy, infrastructure, corporate recovery and private equity markets. Graham Chase is also noted and focuses on real estate taxation.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Hignett; Aaron Fairhurst

Other key lawyers:

Graham Chase; Mark Joscelyne; Lauren Alder; Phil Nicklin

Testimonials

The tax team is very proactive in ensuring that they are on top of changes to the transactions and updating the tax advice and legal agreements as there are changes.’

They are very skilled and highly technical, with lots of practice experience. They always offer practice solutions.’

Key clients

Gamesys

DTZ Investment Management

M&G

Capital & Regional Plc

Delancey

Tronox

Work highlights

  • Advising Irish law firm William Fry on the UK tax implications of the shares in various of Irish listed companies being restructured in order to continue to meet the listing requirements following Brexit.
  • Advising Gamesys Limited on the remote gaming duty implications of certain customer incentives offered through its B2C website.
  • Assisted DTZ Investment Management Limited with structuring the acquisition, development and holding of real estate to become part of the portfolio of assets used by the fund in respect of its co-living business.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper advises clients on a wide range of indirect tax matters across the real estate, financial services, education, gambling and IP sectors. Practice head Richard Woolich is a chartered tax adviser and has a strong international VAT practice; he focuses on international real estate transactions, joint ventures and funds.

Practice head(s):

Richard Woolich

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Kim; Maud Murcia; Helena Monaghan

Testimonials

‘Richard Woolich was very good at brainstorming ideas with me, which was very helpful in preparing for court. He is also excellent in understanding the clients’ commercial needs and in explaining in client friendly terms what the various choices and issues during litigation are.’

‘Maud Murcia is an efficient and hardworking associate.’

‘Richard Woolich stands head and shoulders above his peers. His technical knowledge and local government experience and awareness makes him the consummate adviser.  If there is something that Richard doesn’t know, I haven’t identified it, but I do know that whatever it is, he’ll know who within DLA will know and he’ll have them with you in double quick time.’

‘Richard Woolich is the genuinely nice guy that you don’t expect to meet in tax practice. He takes time to allow you to contextualise your issue; he never harries you and he certainly personifies the steady head that you always hope that you’ll engage when you need one.’

‘Richard Woolich is the classic “still waters run deep” adviser. His ability to simultaneously put you at ease, identify the key issues, and chart a way forward is only rivalled by his attention to detail, unparalleled prompt, clear and concise client updates, and ultimately track record of delivery.’

‘Maud Murcia has excelled in both supporting Richard Woolich and servicing our requirements. Maud seems to always be on hand and always responds promptly to queries. Her standout quality, though, is her structured delivery, something that I greatly welcome.’

‘Richard Woolich is standout but the team are all very excellent. Very knowledgeable, experts, commercial, fair, honest, wonderful to work with and so much more.’

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has an experienced cross-border indirect tax practice with particular expertise in advising on real estate VAT issues. The team handles a broad range of VAT matters for clients in the hospitality, pharmaceutical, retail, financial services, real estate and automotive industries. Giles Salmond heads the practice and is an 'excellent solicitor'; he has a strong focus on contentious VAT work, with expertise in advising on pension funds.

Practice head(s):

Giles Salmond

Other key lawyers:

Ed Griffiths

Testimonials

Giles Salmond leads the indirect tax practice and is an expert on indirect tax, particularly in respect of the indirect tax treatment of pensions.’

Giles Salmond is an excellent solicitor who is a pleasure to work with. Edward Griffiths is developing into his own role as an associate and also supports on banking tax.’

Giles and the team are very responsive, commercially aware and assist in unpacking complex tax matters in a way which clients really appreciate.’

Giles Salmond’s knowledge and understanding of all things tax sets him apart from others in the tax disputes space.’

Key clients

Legal and General Assurance (Pensions Management) Limited

Audley Group Limited

Siemens AG

Raymond James Investment Services Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Legal and General on the tax issues relating to the forward purchase of Interchange Offices, Central Square, Cardiff.
  • Advised Audley Group Limited on the SDLT and VAT aspects of the development of a retirement village at Horsley Green, Buckinghamshire.
  • Advised Siemens AG on SDLT and VAT issues relating to its pre-spin off restructuring.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher showcases a high level of expertise across indirect tax and advises on VAT, SDLT, insurance premium tax on cross-border transactions and international structures. The firm's client base consists of  multinational corporations, publicly traded and private companies, and investment funds (including REITs). Sandy Bhogal has a strong presence in the tax space and has expertise advising on matters involving corporate finance and capital markets, structured and asset finance, investment funds, insurance and real estate. Ben Fryer is also noted and advises on cross-border transactions, general corporate tax planning and risk management.

Practice head(s):

Sandy Bhogal

Other key lawyers:

Jeff Trinklein; Ben Fryer

Testimonials

‘Ben Fryer is commercial and practical.’

Key clients

Realty Income Corporation

Tishman Speyer Properties

Ark Capital Advisors

Eaton Corporation

Brookfield Property Partners

Oaktree

Work highlights

  • Advised real estate private equity investment firm Cale Street Investments on the tax issues arising out of its joint venture with Hines to invest €500m to develop 250,000 sq m of the Unione Zero regeneration project in Milan.
  • Advised US-listed REIT Realty Income Corporation on tax issues arising out of the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of BL Retail Investments, and TBL (Milton Keynes) and TBL (Peterborough) from TBL Property Limited.
  • Advised US-based investment fund IPI Partners on the tax issues arising out of the acquisition of a data centre outside Milan.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has a 'highly technical' tax team that is led by Isaac Zailer, who has a broad transactional and contentious practice covering M&A, restructuring work, asset management and funds work. The team showcases deep expertise in the real estate and energy sectors. Key individuals to note include William Arrenberg, who focuses on real estate taxation, and Aurell Taussig, who specialises in investment funds taxation. Casey Dalton, who was promoted to the partnership in May 2020, has a strong real estate and real estate funds taxation practice and assists clients with VAT and SDLT issues on transactions.

Practice head(s):

Isaac Zailer

Other key lawyers:

William Arrenberg; Aurell Taussig; Casey Dalton

Testimonials

They have always operated at a highly technical level but with sufficient levels of communication and pragmatism (and patience!) to allow the client to be fully across the detail. They have great engagement such that I have never had to chase a response and, where the deal allows, they have been very proactive in setting and meeting expectations.’

From the indirect taxes perspective what always impresses me about the team at HSF is that they don’t just provide the legal and tax technical response. Despite not operating in operational tax roles, they are able to track through the VAT cash impacts of the technical analysis, which is of particular importance when material sums and/or relatively unique transaction mechanics are in play.’

Key clients

AbbVie Inc.

Aberdeen Standard Life

Acacia Research Corporation

Ahren LP

Allianz Real Estate GmbH

Amundi (UK) Limited

Antin

Ardonagh Group

Argent (Property Development) Services Limited

Artisan Partners Limited Partnership

Associated British Foods plc

Atlassian Corporation Plc

Baillie Gifford

Berkeley Homes

Bharti

BHP Group Limited

Big Society Capital Limited

BioPharma Credit Plc

Blackrock

Blue Motor Finance Limited

BP

Bridgestone Corporation

British American Tobacco PLC

Brookfield Property Partners LP

Brookgate Land Limited

Cabot Square Capital

CalEnergy

Canada Life

Canary Wharf Group Plc

Capital & Counties Properties Plc

Chargeurs

Chevron

Citibank

Copenhagen Infrastructure New Markets Fund

CPP Investment Board

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

Dorrington Plc

EDF

ENI

Ferrexpo plc

Findlay Park Partners LLP

Gazeley

Gazprom

Goldman Sachs International

Hammerson Plc

Hermes Fund Managers Limited

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited

Iluka Res

Work highlights

  • Advised Goldman Sachs on the tax aspects of its acquisition of the Thistle Portfolio of 920 build-to-rent residential units across north-west England, from Gatehouse Bank.
  • Advised CPPIB on tax issues relating to its disposal of its 50% interest in the Nova Estate, a £900m development in central London, to Suntec REIT of Singapore.
  • Advised Hammerson Plc on tax issues in relation to its £550m rights issue and €300m disposal of its interests in VIA Outlets (a premium outlets joint venture).

Hogan Lovells International LLP

Hogan Lovells International LLP's indirect tax team is 'highly efficient' and has a 'broad range of expertise', particularly in relation to VAT and SDLT issues on investment funds, financing and real estate transactions. Indirect tax litigation is another key area of work and the team has handled cases which have reached the Court of Appeal and CJEU. Each individual in the team has a sector of strength; Karen Hughes has a strong biotech background, Phillip Harle focuses on the financial services sector, and practice head Rupert Shiers, who is a 'strategic thinker' and has 'good knowledge of HMRC', specialises in advising clients in the technology sector.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Shiers

Other key lawyers:

Karen Hughes; Phillip Harle

Testimonials

A very high-quality team with a broad range of expertise. Highly efficient and effective in the context of litigation.’

Rupert Shiers has a huge amount of knowledge and experience and is a great strategic thinker in litigation.’

The team are responsive, helpful and clear about VAT law and processes, and have been very supportive and proactive in progressing our appeals through the judicial process. Turnaround time on formal documents needed for our appeals has been exceptionally good.’

Rupert Shiers offers clear and concise explanations and has very good knowledge of HMRC and the courts’ practice and outcomes in cases similar to ours. He provides very pragmatic advice.’

Work highlights

  • Advised Pfizer on tax tribunal and CJEU litigation on the customs duty classification of therapeutic heat patches.
  • Represented LIFE Services Limited in litigation in the Court of Appeal on the VAT treatment of day care services for adults with disabilities.
  • Advised Eynsham Cricket Club on a tax appeal, now in the Court of Appeal, on the VAT treatment of building services provided to a Community Amateur Sports Club.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright‘s tax team has a full service offering for a broad range of corporate and finance transactions. The team’s growing activity in the VAT space has led to the formation of the firm’s European VAT group; advising clients on the impact of Brexit on the import and export of goods and services has been a strong area of focus. Chris Bates heads the European VAT practice and has extensive experience advising on a range of financial and asset finance transactions. Dominic Stuttaford is the head of tax for Europe, the Middle East and Asia; Stuttaford advises on corporate finance transactions and structures, with particular expertise in the insurance and technology sectors.

Practice head(s):

Dominic Stuttaford

Other key lawyers:

Chris Bates; Matthew Hodkin; Michael Alliston; Julia Lloyd

Key clients

Barclays Bank Plc

Bibby Financial Services

Bombardier

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners

Centrica

Civitas Social Housing PLC

Commerz Real Investmentgesellschaft mb

Credit Agricole

France Telecom

Gatehouse Bank

Goldman Sachs

HSBC

Lloyds Banking Group

London Gateway Port Limited

Mubadala Investment Company PJSC

Santander

Statoil

UBM

Vodacom Group

Welput (the West End of London Property Unit Trust – operated by Schroders plc)

No

Al Rayan Bank PLC

Work highlights

  • Acting for BMW on its ongoing successful appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning the working of the VAT rules relating to VAT grouping and which entity is entitled to claim a refund of VAT where there have been changes to the composition of a VAT group over time.
  • Acting for Takeda (formerly Shire) in a restitution claim in the stamp taxes group litigation order relating to stamp duty reserve tax.
  • Advised a range of clients across the firm’s transport group on the potential indirect tax consequences of Brexit on their businesses, both in anticipation of a no deal Brexit and following the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

PwC LLP

PwC LLP's indirect tax disputes team advises across the full spectrum of indirect tax. The team's areas of expertise range from VAT and landfill tax to the aggregates levy and climate change levy. Practice head David Anderson is a 'brilliant technician' with a broad client base that covers the manufacturing, retail, social housing, telecoms, local authorities and financial services sectors. 'Strategic thinker' Jayne Harrold leads the UK environmental tax group and assists a range of utilities, landfill site operators and waste plants on VAT and environmental tax issues. Director Christian Bell is another key individual and specialises in financial services indirect tax dispute resolution. Bell represents clients in disputes that involve VAT exemptions, anti-avoidance and VAT grouping and entitlement to claim. Senior manager Claire Millard is 'outstanding' and has a broad indirect tax litigation practice.

Practice head(s):

David Anderson

Other key lawyers:

Jayne Harrold; Christian Bell; Prinal Nathwani; Claire Millard

Testimonials

Jayne Harrold is a clear strategic thinker with a real understanding of indirect taxes and a pragmatic attitude to litigation. Prinal Nathwani has a very good technical understanding of tax law and knows how to handle tribunal cases effectively.’

They have excellent attention to detail, are always on top of the latest developments, have sound judgement, and are good at running cases from start to finish and impressive in securing great results for clients even before getting to court.’

Christian Bell has excellent judgement and commitment to the client’s cause.’

Claire Millard has excellent case management skills.’

Dave Anderson is first-rate: a brilliant technician and also a terrifying opponent.

The PwC legal practice dovetails seamlessly with the PwC tax practice, such that as a client, it truly feels like we are receiving one comprehensive service. In this regard, I would score the PwC team highly on the quality of its people and the collaboration demonstrated, both internally and with us, their client.’

David Anderson and Claire Millard have been outstanding in all interactions with us. In my opinion, both demonstrate that rare skill of being able to give you advice which you may not want to hear, but when delivered with empathy enables clients to have clarity of thought which is invaluable in reaching decisions on complex matters.’

Key clients

St George’s University Limited

Target Group Limited

Healthspan Limited

The Wellcome Trust

Work highlights

  • Assisting an international group of companies operating in the further and higher education sector with reducing VAT liability and penalties involving discussions with HMRC.
  • Advised a landfill site operator in connection with wide-ranging HMRC investigations into historic landfill tax reporting.
  • Advised Healthspan Ltd through a preliminary reference to the CJEU made by the First-tier Tribunal, following the hearing of the client’s appeal in 2018, in a case concerning issues of statutory interpretation on the application of VAT in the international sales of goods.

RPC

RPC is 'excellent' at handling a vast variety of VAT issues and displays strong expertise across indirect tax. The team handles high-value tax litigation and both civil and criminal HMRC investigations, and has been increasingly active advising on judicial review cases against HMRC. Practice head Adam Craggs has extensive experience handling enquiries and criminal tax investigations involving alleged VAT fraud, including missing trader intra community (MTIC) fraud, and complex group litigation actions. Robert Waterson has a strong indirect tax litigation practice and Michelle Sloane specialises in VAT disputes and MTIC fraud. Clients praise the team for its 'practical, sensible and commercially sound advice'.

Practice head(s):

Adam Craggs

Other key lawyers:

Robert Waterson; Michelle Sloane; Constantine Christofi

Testimonials

The team are very well placed to deal with VAT matters and are able to deal with VAT alongside other duty matters. As well as being excellent at tax, they are able to place it in a broad context which includes white-collar crime. The breadth of ability available is rare and impressive.’

Robert Waterson is a fine lawyer who can deal with both the substantive tax matters, judicial review and non-contentious matters. He has, justifiably, a loyal following. Michelle Sloane is another fine lawyer with a particular expertise in white-collar crime which makes her an essential part of the team. Adam Craggs has the gravitas and experience to head a very impressive practice.’

RPC is unique in that it has a hands-on approach and always provides practical, sensible and commercially sound advice. They also try hard to understand your specific requirements as a client and add value throughout, contemplating wider issues and ensuring they are dealt with. Everyone on the RPC team is professional, helpful and easy to work with.’

Robert Waterson and Constantine Christofi have both always applied sound, realistic judgement to the matters in hand and provided strategic and tactical advice that leads to a successful outcome. They are both prompt to answer questions, turning drafts and responses around quickly. Particularly valued is their ability to explain in layman’s terms the various aspects of VAT, the process and path taken.’

Robert Waterson and his team can relate to real-life issues and are concerned about the right outcome for the client, not just racking up fees.’

Key clients

Metropolitan International School Ltd

Newcastle United Football Club

Frasers Group PLC (Sports Direct)

TSB plc

Universal Cycles

Work highlights

  • Representing TSB in relation to a VAT dispute regarding a transitional services agreement following the bank’s split with Lloyds.
  • Acting for NUFC in HMRC’s investigation into suspected non-payment of VAT in respect of agent’s fees paid by NUFC in relation to the transfer of a number of football players.
  • Acting for Metropolitan International Schools Limited in an appeal before the First-tier Tribunal in respect of a VAT dispute with HMRC concerning the supply of blended distance learning courses for the VAT periods 2015-2017, with a value of £10m.

Simmons & Simmons

Simmons & Simmons has a broad VAT and indirect tax offering that covers advisory, transactional and contentious work. The practice focuses on advising clients in the TMT sector, as well as the financial services sector (particularly asset managers and funds). Darren Oswick and Jo Crookshank co-head the practice; Crookshank has deep TMT sector expertise and assists clients with VAT legislation, international VAT mandates, identifying VAT efficiencies and resolving disputes with tax authorities. Of counsel Mark Watterson has particular expertise in tax issues in the financial services sector.

Practice head(s):

Darren Oswick; Jo Crookshank

Other key lawyers:

Nick Skerrett; Martin Shah; Nick Cronkshaw; Mark Watterson

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has a full-service offering and advises clients on the full range of indirect tax work, with particular strength in corporate M&A and financing, as well as real estate. Other key areas of focus include share schemes and employee incentives, investment funds and transportation. Maryanna Sharrock heads the practice following Hugo Jenney's move to a consultant role and focuses on the tax aspects of cross-border M&A deals. John Meehan has a strong corporate tax practice and displays particular expertise in navigating real estate fund tax regimes. Senior associate Kate Worthington is also noted and advises on VAT and SDLT matters in relation to real estate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Maryanna Sharrock

Other key lawyers:

John Meehan; Kate Worthington; Hugo Jenney

Testimonials

Maryanna Sharrock always delivers excellent and detailed advice.’

Key clients

Oxford Biomedica

ENGIE

Inmarsat

LXI REIT

Schroder Real Estate Investment Trust/Schroder Real Estate Fund

London Metric

Civica

Bowmark Capital

Covanta Holdings Limited

Arthur J Gallagher

Tristan Capital

Work highlights

  • Advised Frasers Property on the tax aspects of its £135m acquisition of a company owning a business park in London.
  • Advised Schroders on tax issues relating to the sale of Kings Mall Shopping Centre in Hammersmith to IKEA for circa £130m.
  • Advised on tax issues relating to Oxford Biomedica’s collaboration with biopharmaceutical company PhoreMost.

Bark&co

Bark&co is an established fraud and business crime law firm with a 'wealth of experience' in VAT tax litigation. The firm's civil tax offering covers tribunal appeals, HMRC interventions and seizures, tax investigations and enquiries, while the criminal tax fraud practice advises on a wide range of tax evasion and tax fraud. Founding partner Giles Bark-Jones is the 'backbone of the firm' and has been particularly active on VAT fraud cases and challenges to HMRC assessments. Peter Finbow also has a strong VAT fraud practice and is praised for his 'great judgement'.

Practice head(s):

Giles Bark-Jones

Other key lawyers:

Peter Finbow; Alex Nelson; Paul Lennon; Maria Stalbow; Pat Wilson

Testimonials

They are a really friendly firm where everyone seems to get on. They work well together and provide a very pleasant working atmosphere.’

I would wish to single out Giles Bark-Jones, who remains the backbone of the firm and very much in control of the whole show. He is an excellent lawyer and very much the powerhouse that drives the firm forward and ensures that it provides the excellent quality of service that it does. Patricia Wilson also has great experience in both fields and has a marvellous manner with clients and goes the extra mile for them, putting in a huge amount of effort. In addition, Paul Lennon and Maria Stalbow are important members of the team with great experience.’

The team benefits from a wealth of experience and insight from many years of acting in serious and high-profile criminal and regulatory tax investigations, litigation and prosecutions. They are therefore particularly well placed to advise and litigate in tax matters with the potential for both criminal and civil litigation.’

Giles Bark-Jones sets the tone for the firm and has a rare talent for being able to step back and see the big picture, and get the big tactical decisions correct. Peter Finbow has great judgement and a remarkable deftness of touch in dealing with really tricky issues. Pat Wilson is unbelievably hardworking and able to charm even the most difficult of clients. Paul Lennon has great instincts when it comes to the really important tactical calls.’

Key clients

Dominic Chappell

Work highlights

  • Represented Dominic Chappell in relation to his prosecution for various counts of tax fraud arising out of his takeover of BHS from Sir Philip Green.
  • Acting for an individual in investigations by the National Crime Agency and SKAT (the Danish tax authority) into fraud and money-laundering activities worth over £1.5bn committed against the tax authorities in a number of countries, predominantly the UK, Denmark, the US and Belgium.
  • Representing a large, well-established alcohol wholesaler that HMRC decided was not ‘fit and proper’ for the purposes of the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme.

Mayer Brown International LLP

Mayer Brown International LLP's indirect tax team showcases expertise in handling VAT and SDLT issues in high-value real estate transactions. Other areas of focus include advising on cross-border VAT issues for financial services clients and insurance premium tax matters. In addition, the practice offers a specialised tax dispute resolution and transfer pricing service. James Hill heads the team, which includes Simon Rose and Matthew Mortimer.

Practice head(s):

James Hill

Other key lawyers:

Simon Rose; Matthew Mortimer

Key clients

British Land

Chuang’s China Investments

Link REIT

Tide Construction

Wing Tai

Work highlights

  • Advised Link REIT, Asia’s largest REIT, on its first acquisition in the UK of the office building at 25 Cabot Square (The Cabot) in Canary Wharf, London.
  • Represented leading global financial institutions as arrangers in a $3bn cross-border securitisation of trade receivables originated by subsidiaries of a global technology group and assisted with cross-border tax issues.
  • Advised British Land on the £177m sale of its freehold interest in the luxury mixed-use estate at Clarges, London, to Germany’s Deka Immobilien.

Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP

Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP advises on a broad range of criminal and civil tax disputes, and has been particularly active in representing clients in the gaming and betting space in matters involving VAT and tax evasion. Practice head Neil Swift is a 'talented solicitor' and a 'joy to work with'; he specialises in criminal tax fraud and civil fraud cases that involve VAT fraud, attendant money laundering, and the evasion of direct taxes. Maria Cronin has a strong UK and international tax investigations practice and frequently advises on money laundering cases.

Practice head(s):

Neil Swift

Other key lawyers:

Maria Cronin; Rachel Cook

Testimonials

Depth of talent and long experience means they are one of the real go-to firm firms for those dealing with VAT and indirect taxes. Their record of successfully representing individuals speaks for itself. Their knowledge of this area is excellent. They are approachable, sensible and, respecting the confidences that apply in such matters, helpful and collegial in their approach.’

I have worked most recently with Neil Swift who knows innately how to best represent an individual in a revenue dispute, whose manner is well-judged and who is unfailingly polite and helpful but tough when he needs to be. He is a joy to work with and a singularly nice person and talented solicitor whom I would recommend to anyone who had to deal with an indirect tax issue and especially one where there is an investigation or threat of penal action by HMRC.’

Work highlights

  • Representing a high-profile entrepreneur with business interests in online gambling, payroll services and various property investments in ongoing civil and criminal proceedings relating to VAT evasion.

Rosetta Tax Ltd

Tax boutique Rosetta Tax Ltd focuses exclusively on work involving business taxes. VAT is a particular area of strength for the firm, as well as advising clients in the financial services and insurance sectors. Linda Adelson is an indirect tax and VAT 'expert' and is praised by clients for being 'knowledgeable and commercial'.

Practice head(s):

Linda Adelson

Testimonials

Our contact at Rosetta Tax is Linda Adelson and she was recommended to us as being an expert from a VAT perspective. Linda took the time to understand our business and then worked with us to ensure that the right solutions were proposed. The process was highly collaborative and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Linda in this respect.’

‘The team have demonstrated themselves to be both knowledgeable and commercial, whilst being very personable. I am quick to pick up the phone to them to get their views as I know there will be a tangible benefit to the business.’

Key clients

Claims Advisory Group Ltd

Work highlights

  • Representing Claims Advisory Group Ltd in a case concerning the limits of VAT exemption in the field of insurance-related services.
  • Advising AF Payments Ltd on arrangements concerning its payment card offering aimed at high-net-worth individuals.

Wedlake Bell LLP

Wedlake Bell LLP is a 'friendly' firm that displays an understanding of VAT and SDLT at the 'highest levels'. The practice is led by VAT and indirect tax specialist Michael Ridsdale, whose knowledge of SDLT is 'second to none'. Ridsdale advises on a broad range of transactions and has significant experience representing tax payers in HMRC disputes and enquiries.

Practice head(s):

Michael Ridsdale

Testimonials

A very friendly team that clearly understands VAT and SDLT at the highest levels.’

Mike Ridsdale’s knowledge on SDLT is second to none. Tax is a very dry subject and Mike is able to communicate in a way that keeps the listener’s attention to enable full interaction with the client.’

Honest, trustworthy and open.’

Key clients

Imperial College London

Interpublic