Tax Disputes

We have a market-leading Tax Disputes practice, and have regularly and successfully represented and advised clients on a wide range of tax enquiries and disputes. The object of most of our clients is to reach a resolution with the relevant taxing authority without running the risks, expense and publicity of full-blown litigation. We have considerable experience in assisting clients to resolve their tax disputes by agreement with the tax authorities – and in taking tax disputes to litigation where this is necessary to achieve a successful outcome.

  • In recent years alone our activity in the courts and tribunals has included advising BlueCrest (challenges to its management incentivisation arrangements, partnership taxation and transfer pricing); Credit Suisse (bank payroll tax and HMRC’s enquiry powers); Mercuria (“carousel fraud”); William Reeves (claim for holdover relief); and Teesside Power Limited (interaction between statutory accounts and taxation of corporate finance)
  • Significant public successes for our clients include the clarification of the tax treatment of dividends by the Court of Appeal in Nationwide; the Court of Appeal's decision in FCE Bank on the application of the US/UK double tax treaty; the High Court's decision in Homeserve (which had significant implications for many general insurers); and clarification of the law on beneficial ownership in Bupa Insurance
  • We are currently advising our clients on some of the most significant topics in contentious tax, including State aid, the CFC rules, transfer pricing and DPT, HMRC’s High Risk Corporates Programme, tax residence and the GAAR
  • Recent cases also cover a diverse range of other matters, including VAT, employment issues, deductibility of costs and interest payments, intellectual property and possible criminal proceedings
  • Our high profile client base encompasses all sectors and includes UK and non-UK headquartered multinationals alongside private individuals and private companies

There are no geographical limits to our expertise – many of our clients are based outside the UK and many of our UK clients also operate overseas. Our role invariably involves careful assessment of the facts and evidence, including document and email reviews and expert and witness evidence, as well as technical discussions and negotiations. But the distinguishing feature of our practice is that specialists from our Tax, and Disputes and Investigations, groups work closely together, forming a formidable, integrated team of experts able to deal with all aspects of the case innovatively, seamlessly and efficiently.

Key experience

Group financing exemption and State aid

We are advising a number of clients, including GSK and Vodafone, on the European Commission’s State aid investigation into the group financing exemption from the UK’s CFC rules. We led on our clients’ appeals to the EU General Court, but all UK taxpayer appeals have been stayed behind the appeal by ITV (on which we are also advising).

DPT and associated transfer pricing enquiries

We are advising a number of large UK and non-UK headquartered multinational IT or other IP-rich corporations in relation to diverted profits tax (DPT) and associated transfer pricing enquiries raised by HMRC. In each case the transfer pricing risk arises in the context of cross-border payments, licences or financing and/or the restructuring of the client’s operations across a number of jurisdictions, including the Netherlands, the US and Ireland. Several other cases have already been resolved.

Taxing rights over a UK-US dual resident company

This is likely to become the leading case on interpreting the UK/US double tax treaty, the effect of share stapling on treaty tax residence and the concept of 'carrying on a business'.

Possible criminal proceedings arising out of DPT and associated transfer pricing enquiries

We have provided strategic and substantial procedural advice to our non-UK client, including careful assessment of the possible direct and vicarious liability risk and questions of legal privilege in different jurisdictions.

key Contacts