Tax litigation and investigations in London
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's top-level tax litigation team draws on the firm's global platform and strong disputes history to provide high profile clients with a powerful multi-jurisdictional litigation and investigations service. Solicitor-advocate Heather Gething, who is an accredited mediator and a judge in the First-tier Tax Tribunal, leads the firm's 'simply superb' tax disputes and tax planning department. The teams also includes Nick Clayton, an expert in issues arising from the Criminal Finances Act 2017, and senior associates Michael Hunt (who specialises in disputes involving the tax treatment of debt and derivatives) and 'great' Dawen Gao.
‘The team is simply superb‘
‘Their knowledge of tax and accounting is encyclopedic, and their advice is always clear and commercial‘
‘Highly skilled in tax investigations with in depth understanding of legal and tactical issues‘
‘Very bright team with a strong grasp of the law and the commercial issues into which it is applied.’
- Advising on Uber’s defence of a claim brought by Jolyon Maugham QC that it owes over £1 billion of VAT and interest.
- Representing Bernie Ecclestone in relation to ongoing proceedings in the Administrative and Commercial Courts, challenging the legality of an HMRC decision to rescind a settlement agreement.
- Defending UBS, alongside other wealth managers and independent financial advisers, in multiple sets of proceedings relating to alleged mis-selling of film partnership products.
- Advising Telefonica UK on a VAT dispute relating to the treatment of non-EU mobile phone usage.
- Succeeded in the Court of Appeal in establishing (contrary to the settled view of HMRC) that gains arising in respect of certain commercial mortgage backed securities were not taxable for financial services client Palatium Investment Management.
Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP is a boutique with core expertise in tax and commercial litigation and international arbitration. It also houses forensic accountants, financial analysts and data scientists, providing clients with a full, multi-disciplinary service. The firm, which is led by Michael Anderson and founding partner Graham Aaronson QC, is instructed on complex domestic and cross-border tax disputes by a variety of multinational taxpayers and individuals across industry sectors. It has a particular niche in corporation tax group litigation orders (GLOs). Associate Shofiqur Miah is another name to note, with experience in a variety of contentious tax matters.
Graham Aaronson QC; Michael Anderson
Other key lawyers:
Simon Whitehead; Paul Farmer; Daniel Margolin QC; Ray McCann; Shofiqur Miah; Steve Bousher; Helen McGhee
‘It is the common sense approach and ability to explain the issues which makes them stand out‘
‘The team is technically very able and is able to explain issues in an understandable manner‘
‘The team has a depth of knowledge and experience in EU law based tax litigation‘
British American Tobacco
Marks & Spencer
Intercontinental Hotels Group
- Advising British American Tobacco as test case in the Fll Group Litigation. These long-running claims by 25 UK headquartered multinationals challenge the UK’s dividend taxation scheme and the imposition of advance corporation tax (‘ACT’) upon UK groups with sources of profit abroad.
- Advising Fidelity on cases concerning Fidelity Funds and NN (L) SICAV, two investment funds with registered offices in the United Kingdom and Luxembourg respectively, and portfolio investments in Denmark, on their claims for the repayment of withholding tax levied on dividends received from Danish companies.
- Acting for Prudential as test claimant in the CFC and Dividend Group litigation, challenging the lawfulness of the UK’s taxation of portfolio dividends and pension fund income as contrary to the EU legal principles of freedom of establishment and free movement of capital
Jason Collins leads Pinsent Masons LLP's tax litigation department, which is noted for its instructions in the financial services sector and experience taking cases to the Supreme Court and Court of Justice of the European Union. The group has expertise in diverted profits tax issues, as well as work stemming from the Criminal Finances Act 2017, such as failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. On the advisory side, it advises clients on preparations for the new IR35 legislation. Other key names include contentious VAT experts Stuart Walsh, legal director Clara Boyd and Manchester-based Steven Porter.
‘Pinsent Masons is the premier tax litigation firm; with a wealth of experience that far surpasses any of its competitors‘
‘Clara Boyd is a leader of the future with a profound knowledge of VAT, litigation experience which far surpasses her contemporaries and a staggering work ethic‘
‘The tax litigation practice has a number of partners and associates at all levels and therefore they are able to handle the largest and most complex tax trials‘
BT Pension Scheme
AXA Investment Management
- Acting for RBS on two major VAT disputes arising from missing traders in its supply chains, including Bilta v RBS  EWHC 3535 (Ch), an important decision in relation to legal privilege and tax disputes
- Acting for the BT Pension Fund Trustees, and around 100 other pension funds, in the foreign income dividend and tax credit group litigation, which resulted in the first judgment of the European Court following the Brexit referendum 2016
- Acting for Avon Cosmetics Limited in the CJEU in a case concerning the VAT regime for direct selling companies
- Acting for Cantor Fitzgerald in relation to a VAT dispute on certain purchases of emissions allowances
The dedicated contentious tax department at Simmons & Simmons handles the spectrum of civil and criminal tax disputes and contentious matters and, following the arrival of Monique Van Herksen from Ernst & Young Global Limited in 2018, has a dedicated transfer pricing specialist. The group, which is led by experienced tax litigator Nick Skerrett, is particularly strong in the investment management space, but also regularly advises clients on contentious VAT and environmental tax matters. Darren Oswick is another name to note, specialising in transfer pricing, corporate avoidance matters, financial instruments, dividend claims and employment taxes. Managing associate Heather Rowlands has experience in judicial reviews and appeals before the courts in the UK, India and the Cayman Islands.
‘Heather Rowlands is particularly strong; anticipating client needs and always very responsive‘
‘The team’s VAT technical and commercial knowledge of the financial services sector is unmatched‘
‘The firm has a very strong team that ensures a mix of insight, thought leadership and delivery‘
Veolia ES Landfill and Veolia Cleanaway (UK)
- Represented BPP in a substantive tax dispute before the First-tier Tribunal, which held that supplies of printed educational materials supplied alongside courses of professional education (by a separate entity) were not excluded from zero rating for VAT purposes.
- Represented Veolia in appeals before the First-tier Tax Tribunal concerning the landfill tax liability of protective layers of waste that are used to line the base, sides and top of the landfill.
- Acted for Towers Watson in its dispute with HMRC as to whether the amortisation charge in respect of the acquired goodwill in Towers Watson Limited’s 2011 accounts was compliant with UK GAAP
Slaughter and May's strong tax disputes department handles the full spectrum of contentious tax work (including cross-border disputes), in addition to assisting non-contentious tax clients with continuous disclosure regimes, governance and reputational risk matters. The team also has niche expertise in the technology sector; advising UK and non-UK headquartered multinational companies in relation to transfer pricing and diverted profits tax issues. Dominic Robertson and Richard Jeens jointly lead the team, which includes dispute resolution head Sarah Lee, investigations specialist James Stacey and Sarah Blakelock who joined the team as a consultant from KPMG United Kingdom in 2018.
Dominic Robertson; Richard Jeens
Mercuria Energy Trading Europe
Hays Specialist Recruitment
- Advising Teesside Power on an appeal to the Court of Appeal, in relation to fundamental questions as to the interaction between statutory accounts and the taxation of corporate finance.
- Advising Mercuria in relation to claims brought against it and its co-defendant, the Royal Bank of Scotland plc (“RBS”) in the Financial List (the specialised financial court) of the High Court. The claims arise out of VAT on trading in the carbon emissions market in 2009.
- Advising a private individual in a significant personal tax dispute relating to the transfer of an interest in a UK partnership to a UK company, and a claim for holdover relief under section 165 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992.
The 'high-quality individuals' that make up Allen & Overy LLP's team ensure the firm stands out for its financial services tax disputes experience, which includes administrative disputes, regulatory investigations and litigation, often with an international perspective. The group also handles disputes arising from corporate and real estate transactions. Vimal Tilakapala, who has expertise in alternative dispute resolution methods, leads the team, which includes corporate tax specialist Lydia Challen and Charles Yorke , who is noted for financial sector tax disputes.
Other key lawyers:
Lydia Challen; Chris Harrison; Charles Yorke
‘A group of clever, hard-working lawyers with a good sense of commercial realities and what it takes to win cases‘
‘Charles Yorke is particularly astute and very client-centred‘
‘The team has deep technical expertise‘
- Advising Investec on a case addressing whether the purchase price paid for partnership interests by a bank constitute income or capital expenditure
- Advising PwC as administrator of Phones 4U on tax disputes arising out of the bankruptcy of the mobile phone retailer
- Responding to an HRMC investigation into so called “tower structure” tax schemes on behalf of a European multinational.
Ashurst has a well-regarded tax disputes team that is described by one client as 'gold standard' and 'faultless'. The firm has particular strength in contentious VAT matters, as well as a dedicated state aid contentious tax offering, which represents a variety of multinationals and governments on EU-related matters. Partner and chartered tax adviser Nicholas Gardner heads the overall team and is supported by financial services tax expert Paul Miller and Alexander Cox, who has experience handling both direct and indirect tax disputes.
‘The gold standard tax litigation practice; the team is, quite literally, faultless‘
‘Nick Gardner has outstanding knowledge and is incredibly easy to work with. He is the perfect bridge between the bar and the lay client‘
‘The specialist teams are very high quality, know their stuff and communicate well internally to ensure the wider team is up to speed and delivers joined-up solutions for clients‘
Hastings Insurance Services
The legacy Gala Coral companies
- Advising Hastings Insurance Services in relation to HMRC’s appeal to the Upper Tribunal regarding the place of supply for VAT purposes of services provided by Hastings to another group member established in Gibraltar
- Acting for Ocean Finance in relation to proceedings brought by HMRC exploring the scope of VAT abuse and the extent to which it is limited to “wholly artificial transactions lacking economic reality”
- Advising a syndicate of individuals in an appeal before the First Tier Tribunal in relation to the availability of enterprise zone allowances and, in particular, when the buildings in question ceased to be in use for the purposes of the relevant legislation
Baker McKenzie fields a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers, economists and accountants who advise on a range of tax disputes matters, often for well-known international corporates. Nigel Dolman leads the transfer pricing disputes offering in London, with Jessica Eden taking the lead for corporate tax disputes and David Jamieson heading the VAT disputes practice. Both Eden and Jamieson were promoted to partner in June 2018. The team is well placed to advise clients on cross-border and multi-jurisdictional tax disputes, drawing on Bakers' strong global office network.
Nigel Dolman; Jessica Eden; David Jamieson
Other key lawyers:
Patrick O’Gara; Mark Delaney; Kate Alexander; Richard Fletcher
‘Approachable and knowledgeable, the team are very hands on and responsive‘
‘Jessica Eden is extremely hard-working and efficient; Mark Delaney is very smooth and calm in a crisis; David Jamieson is very knowledgeable and down to earth‘
‘The firm can get a team together at very short notice and deliver high quality, commercially realistic advice, while managing clients and tight deadlines‘
- Acting for Hutchison 3G Limited on a leading tax case in the telecommunications sector, which will have a significant impact on mobile operators
- Acted for UK Power Networks in a successful case in the First tier Tax Tribunal
- Acted for Marriott at the Upper Tribunal on appeal on a case concerning VAT consequences of customer loyalty schemes
- Acting for Baker Hughes on its appeal from the First-tier Tribunal to the Upper Tribunal. The case concerns the VAT treatment of leasing transactions.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
Following the merger between Berwin Leighton Paisner and Bryan Cave, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP's team is particularly able to cater to transatlantic clients in disputes with UK and US tax authorities. The group's areas of expertise include corporate tax, VAT, income tax and stamp duty land tax (SDLT). The team is able to advise on tax risk as well as litigation and, given the strength of the firm's real estate practice, also has a particular focus on real estate tax disputes. Global head of tax advice and controversy Elizabeth Bradley is supported by Kate Ison, who was promoted to partner in 2018, and whose practice is entirely focused on contentious tax, and VAT expert Alan Sinyor. Boosting the firm's criminal tax defence capabilities, Mukul Chawla QC joined the firm from Foundry Chambers in October 2018.
Other key lawyers:
- Acting for Hannover Leasing in a dispute concerning the application of s75A, the SDLT anti-avoidance rule.
- Acting for the Vaccine Research Ltd Partnership on claims to research and development capital allowances.
The 'exceptionally bright and responsive' team at Clifford Chance LLP is able to handle domestic, international and cross-border tax investigations and litigation for a range of corporates, financial institutions and investment funds, with particular expertise in indirect tax and VAT disputes. The group is jointly led by veteran contentious tax lawyer David Harkness, Dan Neidle (whose clients include major financial institutions) and real estate tax specialist David Saleh.
David Harkness; Dan Neidle; David Saleh
‘The team at Clifford Chance is second to none in terms of its intellectual ability, diligence and client care skills‘
‘Dan Neidle is an outstanding partner. What distinguishes him from the rest is his forensic mind, combined with a pragmatism valued by clients‘
‘David Harkness has impressive analytical skills, but most importantly, he brings critical and independent thinking to the table that is extremely valuable‘
- Acting for a leading international investment bank on a large and complex transfer pricing dispute
- Advising an iconic UK PLC on a contentious matter with HMRC, involving forensic analysis of complex legislation and its application to historic planning
- Acting for a leading international investment bank on a dispute over a substantial amount of VAT
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP's team advises on a range of tax disputes and investigations work, ranging from global investigations, tax audits and dawn raids to litigation and arbitration. The team is headed by Helen Buchanan , who specialises in UK and international tax disputes work. Murray Clayson is an EU tax disputes expert.
Other key lawyers:
Hogan Lovells International LLP's team stands out for its representation of clients in the technology, insurance and real estate sectors in high-value HMRC litigation and investigations. The group also has substantial expertise in international tax issues, including a focus on transfer pricing matters led by counsel Graham Poole, whose recent clients include eBay. Department head Rupert Shiers is a veteran of the tax litigation space; handling disputes with HMRC, as well as advising on the impact of tax issues in commercial disputes.
Other key lawyers:
‘Focused and determined, seasoned litigators‘
‘Efficient, thorough and able to get seemingly impossible amounts of work done in a very short space of time. They are nothing short of exceptional in terms of their help with preparing hearings‘
‘Rupert Shiers has a great deal of litigation experience and his strategic judgement and general knowledge of tax law is an invaluable resource‘
‘The Hogan Lovells team has an excellent understanding of the law and of the practical aspects of dispute resolution‘
General Reinsurance Corporation
Johnson Matthey PLC
Royal Bank of Canada
- Helped eBay resolve HMRC’s investigation into its UK transfer pricing
- Advised Ball Corporation in two pieces of tax tribunal litigation
Gideon Sanitt leads the tax disputes team at Macfarlanes LLP, which handles direct and indirect tax disputes for a range of corporates, as well as contentious trusts and private client tax matters and transfer pricing issues. The group also works closely with the financial regulatory team on tax administration matters, cross-border arbitrage trades and advises on the role of financial advisers in marketed tax arrangements. The group includes qualified mediator and tax tribunal judge Ashley Greenbank, VAT expert Chris Mortimer and, in February 2019 added James Drake-Linney from KPMG United Kingdom . Drake-Linney is a barrister who specialises in investigations and tax disputes with HMRC.
Other key lawyers:
Ben Webster; Chris Mortimer; James Drake-Linney
‘Gideon Sanitt is very easy to deal with and a clear expert in the world of tax disputes and investigations. His advice is always clear and pragmatic‘
‘The team is very competent and has a deep understanding of the issues, strengthened by the continuity and longevity of the key personnel‘
‘Both Gideon Sanitt and Ben Webster are always available for advice and provide regular detailed updates‘
- Representing Royal Mail after approximately 300 claimants issued claims against it on the basis that it had been required to issue VAT invoices in respect of services that should have been treated as standard rated for VAT purposes (but were actually treated as exempt)
At PwC LLP, David Anderson takes the lead on indirect tax disputes, Mark Whitehouse heads the direct tax disputes department, while contentious UK environmental tax is led by director Jayne Harrold. The group is closely aligned to the firm's wider tax offering, benefiting from the accounting and professional services firm's deep taxation expertise. This enables the firm to provide clients with a truly multi-disciplinary service. As well as covering the full spectrum of tax litigation and investigations, the team has experience in handling judicial reviews.
David Anderson; Mark Whitehouse; Jayne Harrold
Other key lawyers:
Stephen Morse; Gillian Wheeler; Phillip Bradley; Christian Bell
‘The strength of the PwC team lies in spotting litigation opportunities; novel points of law or practice that might be exploited to the client’s advantage‘
‘Delivering top notch tax dispute resolution services; they really know what makes HMRC tick‘
‘Very dedicated to tax, but they also think strategically about the overall impact of litigation on the client and their ongoing relationship with regulatory authorities‘
The Wellcome Trust
United Biscuits (Pension Trustees) Limited
Rank Group Plc
Target Group Limited
Standard Chartered Bank
Air Berlin plc
- Lead solicitors for the Stamp Taxes Group Litigation Order, bringing restitution claims against HMRC on behalf of more than 20 claimants for overpaid stamp duty reserve tax and stamp duty, with total tax at stake calculated to be over £500m.
- Acting on behalf of an airline to recover in excess of £6 million in Stamp Duty levied in breach of EU law.
- Represented United Biscuits (Pension Trustees) in proceedings before the High Court and Court of Appeal in relation to a claim for VAT paid contrary to EU law. The case has recently been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
- Represented the Wellcome Trust before the First-tier Tribunal in its dispute with HMRC concerning the place of supply for VAT purposes of investment management services received from non-EU suppliers
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Liesl Fichardt leads the tax department at disputes specialists Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, which is heavily focused on international tax controversy work. The London office has particular experience representing companies in the natural resources sector, advising on multi-billion dollar disputes with tax authorities in multiple jurisdictions. In addition to the international work carried out by the London team, the group also has significant experience advising hedge funds on a range of disputes with HMRC.
Other key lawyers:
Epaminontas Triantafilou; Anthony Sinclair; Chintan Chandrachud; Karabeth Ovenden; Michael Mabbett
‘The team is headed by the highly experienced Liesl Fichardt who knows how to litigate and how to handle a revenue investigation‘
‘Quite simply this is the best tax litigation team in London‘
‘Liesl Fichardt is the best tax disputes lawyer in London; her knowledge and approach is unparalleled and her team is excellent‘
Acacia Mining plc
North Mara Gold Mine
Bulyanhulu Gold Mine
Bulyanhulu Holding (Pty)
Canary Wharf Group plc
- Represent Acacia Mining plc in its precedent-setting cases on tax residence, international tax principles applicable in Tanzania and tax assessments in excess of US $ 600m.
- Represented North Mara Gold Mine and Bulyanhulu Gold Mine in their pending appeals, all of which concerned specific time limitation issues, achieving success in 11 out of 12 to date, with the 12th case pending.
- Representing Canary Wharf in its multi-million pound dispute against HMRC involving a complex loan arrangement.
The team at RPC has experience in tax litigation before the UK courts and the European Court of Justice, HMRC tax investigations and judicial reviews. It has a particular niche in group litigation, for which it is able to offer third party funding and insurance services. Department head Adam Craggs, is an accredited mediator with expertise in tax enquiries and criminal tax investigations.
Other key lawyers:
Robert Waterson; Michelle Sloane; Constantine Christofi
‘Good communication, good technical skills‘
‘They absolutely understand what is important to the clients who require their services‘
‘Dynamic and forward looking; confident and well resourced with good knowledge of the law and determined to get good results for clients‘
Sports Direct plc
Greene King plc
Dialog Semiconductor plc
Newcastle United Football Club
Coca-Cola European Partners
Morgan Sindall Group plc
- Represented FMX Food Merchants Import Export Co in respect of a customs duty dispute with HMRC.
- Acting for Newcastle United Football Club in respect of a criminal investigation by HMRC
- Acting for Dialog Semiconductors Plc in Stamp Taxes Group Litigation Order.
Key areas of expertise for the contentious tax team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP include VAT disputes, customs duty disputes, international tax, Stamp Duty Reserve Tax matters and tax investigations by both UK and international tax authorities. Department head and solicitor-advocate Giles Salmond stands out for his experience of contentious VAT cases and has appeared before courts at every level. Associate Kunal Nathwani is a specialist in international tax disputes.
Other key lawyers:
Matt Cummings; Kunal Nathwani; Edward Griffiths
‘Resourceful team with a wealth of knowledge.’
‘Giles Salmond is a market leader in indirect tax disputes. Giles combines excellent technical knowledge and experience with creative, lateral thought.’
M G Rover Group Limited (in Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation)
N Brown Group Plc
Aozora GMAC Investments Limited
- Acting for Hilton Hotels in relation to a multi-million pound VAT issue concerning the recoverability of UK VAT by the US hotel group. The team is working with HMRC to find an innovative way to settle the case.
- Instructed to take over litigation from another firm in relation to a multi-million pound VAT claim for compound interest payable over payments of VAT in relation to historic car dealership bonuses.
- Advising on a case for M G Rover Group and PwC concerning complex issues of VAT grouping. The team was successful in securing victory before the First-tier Tribunal (Tax).
Fieldfisher's team has experience handling tax disputes for clients in the film, leisure, life sciences and healthcare sectors, carrying out both tax litigation and criminal defence work. The group is led by Hartley Foster, who has extensive experience in cases before the courts, and includes former tax inspector and policy adviser George Gillham and European tax law expert Philippe Freund.
Mishcon de Reya LLP's team has a particularly strong track record in VAT disputes with HMRC. Leslie Allen leads the department, drawing on vast experience in direct and indirect tax disputes, including those relating to tax avoidance and evasion claims. In September 2018, the group benefited from the arrival of Paul Noble from Pinsent Masons LLP, who has expertise in mitigating tax risk where HMRC has already commenced an investigation, or where clients are at risk of challenge.
Other key lawyers:
Dario Garcia; Robert Hartley; Paul Noble; Waqar Shah
‘Waqar Shah knows his stuff and is impressive’
‘Leslie Allen’s knowledge of VAT is second to none’
‘The team is responsive and always make the client feel like their number one priority’
‘They know the tax subject inside out and have the depth of knowledge, expertise and ability to deliver’
Paul Lewis, on behalf of the BBC Presenters Group
Iceland Foods Ltd
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
National Car Parks Limited
Royal Mail Group Litigation
- Represented a group of over 170 BBC presenters in a disagreement with the BBC over a number of tax issues, including most notably the BBC’s recoupment of national insurance and PAYE contributions from presenters who were self-employed and who had therefore already accounted to HMRC of their own accord
- Represented Iceland Foods after HMRC asserted that it was in breach of National Minimum Wage (NMW) legislation.
- Acting for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services UK on a potential judicial review.
Norton Rose Fulbright's active practice includes tax investigations. negotiations with authorities, tax tribunals, public law remedies, as well as tax governance and risk management issues, particularly in relation to new corporate criminal offences of failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. The team is led by tax all-rounder Dominic Stuttaford, who is a highly experienced litigator. Angela Savin left the team for KPMG United Kingdom in December 2018.
Other key lawyers:
Chris Bates; Matthew Hodkin; Ruth Cowley; Katie Stephen; Michael Alliston
Lloyds Banking Group
NDS Group Limited (formerly NDS Group plc)
Shire Pharmaceuticals Group
Hudson Contract Services
- Advising BMW in respect of Upper Tribunal Tax and Court of Appeal proceedings in relation to a multimillion pound VAT repayment dispute with MG Rover.
- Acting for HSBC in a restitution claim in the Franked Investment Income Group Litigation Order.
- Acting for HSBC in a Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT) restitution claim.
- Acting for Shire Pharmaceuticals Group on its SDRT litigation.
Stewarts Law LLP's lawyers handle direct and indirect tax litigation, tax-centred commercial litigation and tax investigations. The team, which is led by David Pickstone, made a number of hires in 2018-2019, including James Le Gallais from Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP, who specialises in tax mis-selling claims; and Lisa Vanderheide from BDO LLP, whose experience includes the spectrum of interactions with HMRC.
Other key lawyers:
‘Hard working diligent team, with in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.’
‘The team are a perfect blend of astute litigation practitioners and tax experts. They really know both sides well and play to their strengths as a team. They are commercial in their approach but are also very much into the detail. A perfect combination.’
‘The team has extensive tax litigation experience. Whereas most tax teams’ experience is limited to tax tribunal litigation, the Stewarts team has extensive experience of tax litigation in both the High Court and the Tax Tribunal. In addition, the Tax Team has the benefit of being able to draw on the expertise of Stewarts’ wider disputes/litigation experience.’
‘Stewarts know how to do group redress really well. It is complex, political and involves mobilising litigation finance in the best way. They are well ahead of the competition in researching disputes, finding the best angle, helping the clients get organised and securing the funding. Their willingness to work on risk in a mature and ungrudging way is outstanding. They will always make my shortlist. If you could only go to one firm, go to them.’
‘I found James Le Gallais to be particularly helpful in guiding me through a very complicated process.’
‘Lee Ellis – what he doesn’t know about tax law isn’t worth knowing.’
‘David Pickstone leads the team with aplomb. He really understands his client base and the drivers for tax litigation.’
‘Martin Cox is a rising star in the team and definitely one to watch.’
‘Victor Cramer has made an impressive start at Stewarts.’
‘Lee Ellis is a stand-out partner who in addition to detailed technical knowledge has excellent strategic judgement. His extensive experience of tax litigation in both the High Court and Tax Tribunals means that he is able to authoritatively advise clients on the best way to achieve their desired outcomes through the litigation process.’
‘David Pickstone is a very smart lawyer who grasps the legal issues at the heart of a matter and know how to assemble the arguments, client support and financial resources need to pursue them. He gives confidence that a problem is in good hands, that he knows the law and how it will best be argued and that he will pursue it with vigour. He strikes a nice balance between assiduous careful lawyer and commercial advocate knowing how to navigate group dynamics and litigation funding complexities too.’
- Acting for approximately 280 investors, including a number of high profile celebrities, in respect of a >£100 million group action (including claims in fraudulent misrepresentation, conspiracy and professional negligence) arising out of their investments in eight film and video game production partnerships promoted by Ingenious Media between 2002 and 2007.
- Act for a significant number of high profile professional footballers (between 20-30) in relation to disputes with HMRC on avoidance schemes and in claims of professional negligence and/or fraudulent misrepresentation arising from their investments in failed tax avoidance schemes.
- Act for client in various multi-million pound commercial tax claims regarding the correct Landfill Tax treatment of different types of waste.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP's tax disputes team is co-led by experienced litigator Jamie Maples and Oliver Walker, who is instructed on a number of cases before English and European courts. Recent cases include internal investigations into corporate governance failings, VAT disputes and a number of contentious tax insurance matters. Hannah Field-Lowes left the team for White & Case LLP in February 2018.
Jamie Maples; Oliver Walker
‘Oliver Walker is very thorough, responsive and detail-focused; he is a good communicator, very friendly to deal with and quick to respond‘
‘Oliver Walker is well known in the M&A insurance market and has worked on some of the largest and most complex tax insurance projects‘
‘Extremely competent and thorough, professional, responsive, accurate and approachable‘
‘This a high-class operation; the key people are knowledgeable and razor sharp and able to take on anything‘
Joint Special Administrators of MF Global UK
- Administration of MF Global UK under the UK’s Special Administration Regime
- Acting for a leading architecture firm for the purposes of an internal investigation following allegations made by a whistle blower in respect of various complex corporate governance failings.
- Represented two private equity houses in relation to a large and complex tax insurance policy.
Bird & Bird LLP's team has developed specialisations in a number of niche areas, including challenging HMRC's information gathering powers, contentious excise duty, contentious trade and customs, as well as wide-ranging expertise in HMRC-led tax investigations. The department is led by tax disputes and investigations expert Andy Brown and includes Julian Balson, who has particular experience in excise duties and trade and customs work.
Other key lawyers:
‘Great inside knowledge of the tax regulations in the UK, current practice and the likely interpretation of the regulations by HMRC officials‘
‘Julian Balson and his team have proven a great customer oriented approach, offering different options with a sound risk assessment for each one of them‘
‘Specialists in Excise, Duty, VAT and HMRC‘
PML Accounting Limited
Two different specialist purchasers and maturers of fine rum products
Renewable energy project developer and operator
- Representing PML Accounting in its application for permission to appeal a Court of Appeal decision in the Supreme Court.
- Acted on behalf of a pharmaceutical company which entered into two tax avoidance schemes following advice from one of the “Big 4” accountancy practices.
- Act for two niche purchasers and maturers of fine rum products. Large consignments of maturing rum held in a specialist bonded warehouse were seized by HMRC due to Excise duty compliance errors, outside the clients’ control, that were committed by the warehousekeeper
Enyo Law LLP
Enyo Law LLP is a disputes-only firm that houses a number of specialists in tax litigation; with experience securing and enforcing judgments across a number of jurisdictions globally. The team is led by tax specialist Fiona Walkinshaw, whose practice encompasses disputes involving corporation tax, capital gains tax and income tax.
EDF Energy (Gas Storage)
- Represents EDF Energy in its dispute with HMRC regarding the availability of capital allowances in its underground gas storage business
- Represents an individual in an ongoing dispute with HMRC over the availability of loss relief from their trade in film rights
Ernst & Young Global Limited
Ernst & Young Global Limited's tax litigation and disputes team takes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on the firm's wider tax expertise to handle the spectrum of contentious tax matters. The group is also well placed to advise clients on multi-jurisdictional issues. The team is jointly-led by indirect tax expert Mitchell Moss, whose experience includes litigation and alternative dispute resolution methods, and direct tax specialist Boaz Goren.
Boaz Goren; Mitchell Moss
Other key lawyers:
Dan White; Rebekah Oliver; Emma Hughes
K E Entertainments
- Success before the First-Tier Tribunal in Vale Europe Limited; a case concerning HMRC’s decision to refuse the right to deduct input tax in respect of certain supplies on the basis that the Appellant should have known that the transactions were connected with the fraudulent evasion of VAT
- Success in Bramall & Ors before the First-tier Tribunal over HMRC’s refusal to allow claims for the repayment of output tax accounted for in error on the receipt of ‘fleet buyer bonuses’ from motor manufacturers.
Kingsley Napley LLP has carved out a niche in criminal tax investigations and litigation, drawing on broad expertise in corporate criminal defence to advise clients on the spectrum of tax fraud cases. The group is also experienced in multi-jurisdictional matters, where tax investigations in other EU countries have led to parallel UK investigations. Louise Hodges leads the criminal litigation department, while David Sleight heads the tax investigations team.
Louise Hodges; David Sleight
Other key lawyers:
‘Unique perspective on tax from the point of view of premier league litigators‘
‘Louise Hodges stands out for her experience, grasp of broader strategic issues and the practical advice she gives clients caught up in complex litigation‘
‘Louise Hodges is a leading light in the market generally, and David Sleight has established himself as a force to be reckoned with – both are user friendly, practical, knowledgeable and totally committed to their clients‘
Areas of expertise for Manchester-based Kuit Steinart Levy LLP include tax disclosure issues, HMRC investigations, tax litigation and white-collar criminal defence. The group has also developed expertise in the taxation of cryptocurrency. Department head Robert Levy has extensive experience in tax investigations, often being instructed in matters with cross-border implications.
Other key lawyers:
‘They take time to ensure they understand the client position, and how best they can add to the process‘
‘Robert Levy is a highly experienced tax investigations professional, who builds great relationships with his clients, ably supported by his team‘
‘Robert Levy and Paul Bricknell are very open and engaging – with excellent interpersonal skills – making communication of difficult issues easy.’
‘The team understands HMRC’s approach, which can be a huge advantage‘
The team at White & Case LLP in London has been expanding in recent years, demonstrating the firm's commitment to the practice. In 2018, the firm added lawyers including contentious tax expert Hannah Field-Lowes from Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP. The team, which handles a range of disputes with HMRC, is led by Charles Balmain, whose expertise includes EU law and white-collar criminal defence matters.
Other key lawyers:
Hannah Field-Lowes; Jonathan Pickworth; Joanna Dimmock; Jonah Anderson
Ingenious Media Investments Limited and Ingenious Capital Management Limited
Minera Las Bambas S.A. and MMG Swiss Finance AG
- Acts for Ingenious Media Investments Limited and Ingenious Capital Management Limited (as the operators of certain film and games production partnerships) in connection with the ongoing dispute with HMRC regarding appeals by the partnerships against closure notices issued to them by HMRC that amend their partnership tax returns to deny their claims for trading losses
- Represents MMG in English High Court tax-related litigation proceedings concerning alleged breaches of the tax indemnity provisions in a sale and purchase agreement relating to the Las Bambas mining project in Peru, one of the largest copper mines in the world, pursuant to which MMG acquired the project from Glencore for in excess of US$5 billion