Members of Chambers can be instructed both to give tax advice and to conduct tax appeals and other tax-related litigation. We are often instructed directly by accountants, under the Licensed Access scheme, previously known as “Bar Direct”.
We appear in tax appeals argued before the First-Tier Tribunal (Tax), the Upper Tribunal, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, the Privy Council and the European Court of Justice and, in special circumstances, in Hong Kong. We give advice on the tax aspects of a wide variety of domestic and international transactions and issues. It is our habit to discuss amongst ourselves difficult points of law arising in all these matters, and our wide experience enables us to offer the most current, accurate and practical tax advice.
For advisory work, particularly where major transactions are in contemplation, it is common to instruct a tax barrister at the early planning stages. For contentious work, a barrister may be instructed at any stage right up to a hearing before a tribunal, the Commissioners, or the Court. However, it is almost always beneficial to instruct a barrister at the early stages of correspondence: in this way, a dispute between the taxpayer and HM Revenue & Customs may often be resolved satisfactorily, without the need for protracted correspondence or a court hearing.
Like other barristers’ chambers, we are not a firm or a partnership: each member of Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers has his or her own personal practice. But in more complex matters it is generally cost-effective to instruct a junior barrister along with a senior one. This is also true in litigation, where a QC (Queen’s Counsel) will commonly be assisted by a junior.
The choice of barrister for a particular matter is best made in consultation with the clerks, normally by telephone.
Who can Instruct Us
All Members of Chambers accept instructions from solicitors and other persons regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and from other professionals (including accountants) under the Licensed Access Scheme. Some Members of Chambers also accept instructions directly from members of the public. Please see “Compliance” below for the terms on which instructions are accepted.
Licensed Access Rules for qualified persons other than solicitors.
Liability for the fees
The professional who instructs counsel (typically an accountant) is known as the “licensed access client” and is liable for a barrister’s fee due in respect of work carried out by the barrister under any instructions. Even in a case where the matter concerns a lay client, the licensed access client is solely and exclusively liable to the barrister for the fees whether or not the lay client puts the licensed access client is funds. In this regard:
(1) The relationship between the barrister and the licensed access client is a contractual one.
(2) Any individual giving or purporting to give the instructions on behalf of any partnership, firm, company, individual or other person warrants to the barrister that he is authorised by the latter to do so and retain for six years after the last item of work done by the barrister instructed copies of instructions (including supplemental instructions); copies of all advices given and documents drafted and approved; a list of all documents enclosed with any instructions; notes of all conferences and of all advice given by telephone.
(3) If the licenced access client is a partnership or a firm or unincorporated association, the liability of the partners or members and on death that of their estates for the barrister’s fees is joint and several.
(4) Neither the sending by a licensed access client of instructions to a barrister nor the acceptance of those instructions by a barrister nor anything done in connection therewith nor the terms governing Licensed Access nor any arrangement or transaction entered into under them shall give rise to any contractual relationship rights duties or consequences whatsoever either (i) between the barrister or the General Council of the Bar and any lay client or (ii) between the General Council of the Bar and the licensed access client.
Money Laundering Regulations 2007– Client Identification Procedure
In accordance with guidelines issued by the Bar Council and the Revenue Bar Association, we are required to ask all UK or foreign lawyers or regulated professionals who instruct a member of Chambers to confirm in writing that they have confirmed the identity of the client in accordance with the relevant money laundering regulations.
Contractual Terms and Compliance
All members of Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers offer their services to clients subject to and in accordance with the Code of Conduct of the Bar. In the case of solicitors and other persons regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under s.18(1)(a) of the Legal Services Act 2007, members offer their services under the New Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012 as set out in Annex T of the Code of Conduct of the Bar. These may be found here. In the case of licensed access clients (for example, accountants and certain other professionals) members of Chambers offer their services on the Licensed Access Terms of Work published by the Bar Council at http://barcouncil.org.uk/media/90761/bsb_licensed_access_terms_of_work.pdf In all other cases, specific terms will be agreed between the member of Chambers and the client on a case by case basis, subject always to the Code of Conduct of the Bar.
In compliance with Annex S to the Code of Conduct Chambers has a complaints procedure as follows: if a complaint cannot be resolved informally by discussion with the Senior Clerk, a professional or lay client is at liberty to make a formal complaint to the Senior Clerk who will within 28 days and after discussion with the Head of Chambers send a reply: if the client is not satisfied with the reply he or she may within take his or her complaint to the Legal Ombudsman whose website address is www.legalombudsman.org.uk, helpline 0300 555 0333. The time limits for such a complaint are: (a) Six years from the date of the act/omission; (b) Three years from the date that the complainant should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before the 6 October 2010 or was more than six years ago), (c) Within six months of the complaint receiving a final response from their lawyer, if that response complies with the requirements in rule 4.4 of the Scheme Rules (which requires the response to include prominently an explanation that the Legal Ombudsman was available if the complainant remained dissatisfied and the provision of full contact details for the Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint must be referred to them within six months). The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances. Chambers must therefore have regard to that timeframe when deciding whether they are able to investigate your complaint. Chambers will not therefore usually deal with complaints that fall outside of the Legal Ombudsman’s time limits.