36 Queen Street, London, EC4R 1BN | +44 (0)20 7242 2642
Laurent Sykes KC

”Laurent gets to the heart of the issues, with insightful analysis and explanation. This is combined with a forensic approach to ascertaining the facts.”

Ranked in Legal 500 2023 in Corporate Tax

“A gifted advocate who provides clear and thorough advice, Laurent’s attention to detail and dedication to a case is second to none.”

Ranked in Legal 500 2023 in VAT and Excise

“Laurent sees clearly to the heart of the matter and his technical position is always firmly based.” “He provides very good technical advice, is strategically good and is a very approachable barrister.” “An excellent and thorough advocate.”

Ranked in Chambers and Partners 2023 in Tax

Laurent has a wide ranging practice which encompasses many areas of the tax code, particularly business and employment tax-related matters and issues affecting private clients. He also advises on tax-related pensions matters and on tax-related commercial disputes. In the past Laurent qualified as a chartered accountant which provides useful background knowledge in dealing with tax questions with an accounting aspect. Litigation (usually for the taxpayer and where necessary) is an important part of his work and has taken him to the Tax Tribunal, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Despite his mixed European ancestry, the forebear (according to family legend) of whom he is most proud is Admiral Nelson, from whose example he has learnt two lessons: first to bring the greatest possible firepower to bear in solving any tax problem and, secondly, that every tax barrister must do his duty to the client. However he knows that, in dealing with tax, you must consider all angles. As a client once put it to him, if you cover your eyes, it does not mean that people cannot see you.

He enjoys the ludic qualities of taxation but has learnt through sorry experience that it is best not to mention this at dinner parties.

Outside work, Laurent’s interests are primarily language-focused. He speaks French and Italian fluently, can have a good go at German if he needs to and also speaks emergency Russian and aspirational Egyptian Arabic (the last of which he is looking to build upon in spare moments).

Laurent was called to the Bar in 2007 and took silk in 2016.

Qualifications: Oxford University BA Modern Languages (First class degree), City University – GDL (Distinction), College of Law (Distinction), ACA

Recent reported cases include:

First-tier (Tax) Tribunal

High Court

Upper Tribunal

  • Gerard Lee and Sarah Lee v HMRC [2023] UKUT 242. Laurent Sykes KC acted for the Appellants in an appeal against HMRC’s refusal of Principal Private Residence relief. The Appellants successfully argued that the “period of ownership” relevant for the relief was the period of ownership of the dwelling-house being sold such that full relief was allowed if the dwelling-house had been the primary residence for the whole period after it was built. It was immaterial that that the land under the house might have been owned for a longer period.

Court of Appeal