Recent News & Events

James Kessler QC and Ross Birkbeck – Embiricos v HMRC [2019]

James Kessler QC and Ross Birkbeck – Embiricos v HMRC [2019]


The First Tier Tribunal has decided in favour of the taxpayer in Embiricos v HMRC TC/2018/03753, in the first decision to examine the scope of the Partial Closure Notice regime introduced by Finance (No2) Act 2017.


In a ruling that could have wide application in the enquiry process, Judge Robin Vos accepted Mr Kessler’s submissions that the Court of Appeal decision in R (Archer) v HMRC [2017] EWCA Civ 1962 did not apply to partial closure notices, and that a partial closure notice in respect of the taxpayer’s domicile could be issued despite HMRC not yet knowing the amount of tax that was due as a result of their decision on the domicile issue.


10 April 2019

Rory Mullan and Harriet Brown – Butt v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 554

Rory Mullan and Harriet Brown  have been commended for their pro bono work by the Court of Appeal in their recent appearance on behalf of the taxpayer in Butt v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 554.

The appeal concerned whether Mr Butt could be fixed with a penalty by reference to disallowed input tax, regard being had to article 7 ECHR and article 49 of the EU Charter. Rose LJ gave a judgment holding that he could.

4 April 2019


Free Seminar – Current and New Issues with the Taxation of UK Real Estate – NOTES AVAILABLE

Old Square Tax Chambers are hosting an afternoon seminar on 7 March 2019 where Patrick Cannon, Etienne Wong and Sarah Squires will be speaking on Current and New Issues with the Taxation of UK Real Estate.

The seminar was held from 16:15 on Thursday 7th March 2019.

The notes are now available to download from here.

The seminar is to be held from 3.45 pm to 6.15 pm in The Old Hall, Lincoln’s Inn and the timetable will be as follows:

3:45 – 4.15        Tea & Coffee

4.15 – 4.50       Patrick Cannon will speak on Current SDLT points of dispute with HMRC

4.50 – 5.25       Sarah Squires will speak on Taxing non-UK real estate investors: Recent developments       

5.25 – 6.00       Etienne Wong  will speak on Some Recent VAT Developments of Note 

6.00 – 6.15       Question to the speakers followed by drinks

Drinks will be hosted immediately after the seminar at which you will have an opportunity to meet members of Old Square Tax Chambers.

The seminar is free of charge.

Please let us know if you wish to attend by emailing and do feel free to inform any colleagues who might be interested in joining us

Free Seminar: Tax Administration and Taxpayer Rights – NOTES AVAILABLE

Old Square Tax Chambers hosted an afternoon seminar where Rory Mullan, Ross Birkbeck and Philip Simpson QC.

Seminar Timetable

15:45 – 16:15 Tea & Coffee

16:15 – 16:50 Rory Mullan – Challenging assessments

Applicable time limits for assessments, enquiries and closure notices – extended time limits and the burden of proof – limits on discovery assessments.

16:50 – 17:25 Ross Birkbeck – Issues with closure notices

When are they available and when can they be appealed — Questions of formality — Uncertainties in the partial closure regime

17:25 – 18:00 Philip Simpson QC – Time limits for claims

General issues with making claims – dealing with missed time limits – claims after assessments / amendments – HMRC’s care and management discretion

Copies of the speakers’ notes are now available to download here.

Taxman accused of bullying overseas earners with letters ~ a recent article in The Times by Carol Lewis stated

Patrick Cannon, a leading tax barrister, said: “These bullying letters are exactly the sort of thing the Lords criticised.” He said that they were designed to “put the wind up people”, had no official legal status and that response was voluntary. “I absolutely wouldn’t sign this,” he said. “It is a real imposition and very unprofessional of HMRC. The article may be found here:

Old Square Tax Chambers is delighted to announce that Rebecca Sheldon has joined Chambers as a full tenant

Rebecca holds two first class law degrees from the universities of Durham and Cambridge and was graded “outstanding” on the BPTC. Prior to coming to the bar, she worked as a VAT research assistant for Professor Rita De La Feria. Rebecca has also published articles in the British Tax Review.

Further information on Rebecca can be found on her individual profile page.

Please contact Cliff Holland or Franco Lombardi should you have any enquiries regarding Rebecca.

James Kessler QC and Mary Ashley provide an in-depth analysis of the residence nil rate band and its operation

Nil Rate Band Analysis: FA 2019 update

Macleod and Mitchell Contractors Limited v. HMRC [2019] UKUT 46 (TCC)

Philip Simpson, Q.C., has successfully acted for the taxpayers in the case of Macleod and Mitchell Contractors Limited v. HMRC [2019] UKUT 46 (TCC). The case concerned keyman insurance policies that were to be taken out for the benefit of the taxpayer company on the life of its director. By mistake, the policies were taken out naming the director as the beneficiary. The company paid regular premiums for a number of years, without anyone realising the mistake. During an enquiry, HMRC spotted the error, and claimed income tax and national insurance contributions on the basis that the premiums had been due by the director, and the fact that the company had paid the premiums counted as earnings for the director. This was said to be because debts due by the director had been paid off. The Upper Tribunal held that neither income tax nor NICs were due. This was because any benefit was not ‘from’ the director’s employment, but arose instead from a mistake. There had been no intention to reward the director for his services by paying the premiums. The taxpayers’ appeals were thus allowed. The decision may be found here:

Corporation Tax Loss Reforms – MBL Seminars ~ Sarah Squires

Sarah will be speaking on the 2017 reforms to the availability of corporation tax loss relief at a seminar organised by MBL Seminars in Birmingham on 20 February  2019.

For more information, including how to register for the seminar, please see here

Pulsin’ Limited v. HMRC ~ Philip Simpson QC

Philip Simpson QC successfully represented the taxpayer in the case Pulsin’ Limited v. HMRC. The taxpayer manufactured gluten-free brownies. The question was whether they were cakes for VAT purposes, and therefore should be zero-rated. After a hearing that included a tasting session of Pulsin’s products as well as other, similar brownies, the FTT concluded that all four flavours of the taxpayer’s products were cakes.

This case follows on from Mr Simpson’s success, again for the taxpayer, in Lees of Scotland Limited v. HMRC [2014] UKFTT 630.