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One minute with... Jill Gatehouse

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

Typically my work flow is largely transaction based and now is no exception to that. At the moment, the transactions are mainly private M&A and I’ve recently been involved in a number of competitive auctions. Unfortunately, a number of those have been unsuccessful auction bids. It’s always a shame when that happens, but in the current market there are a number of investors (trade and financial investors such as private equity) chasing a limited number of opportunities. I do like the tactical aspect of competitive auctions, however: you have to work closely with the client to understand the real value points and often have to be creative about how to address them.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

Well, a bit of tax law would have been useful, but I’m guessing that joke has been made before! There probably two things. Firstly, don’t worry about comparing yourself with other people (not easy when your team includes David Taylor and Sarah Falk…) – identify your strengths and capitalise on them. Secondly, building relationships with people (email does not count!) is the best way to learn and to make the job enjoyable.

Are there any new rules that are causing a particular problem?

I’ve been getting up to speed on the new EU Directive DAC6, which was adopted by the EU Council on 25 May 2018. It is described as bringing in new transparency rules for intermediaries that design or sell potentially harmful tax schemes. However, the scope is much wider than this suggests. Firstly, taxpayers themselves may need to report if there is no intermediary. Secondly, it is possible that in-house counsel/tax advisers could be intermediaries. Thirdly, a number of the ‘hallmarks’ do not require any tax advantage main benefit and could capture simple cross-border transfers of business. I think this is going to create a substantial compliance burden for taxpayers and advisers, and lead to disclosures being required for a number of commercial transactions. Moreover, whilst reporting under these rules will not take place until 2020 there will then be a requirement to report transactions which took place between the date the directive enters into force (likely to be in a few weeks) and 2020. So this is something that multinational groups and tax advisers need to familiarise themselves with quickly.

What is the silliest thing you’ve done at work?

There are a number… I recall one particular matter where I was tasked with working out how much compound interest a client should be claiming from HMRC on a restitution claim for overpaid tax. (This was in 2002 – the question of entitlement to compound interest has been an area of debate/case law for my entire career and it will be interesting to see the Supreme Court decision in Prudential later this year.) The time period for the claim went through the 1980s and 1990s when interest rates were going up regularly, sometimes on a monthly basis. Having the typical technology skills of a lawyer and generally trusting only a pencil and piece of paper, I set to work with a calendar, a calculator and a list of interest rate movements. I can still remember Colin Hargreaves’ face when I presented him with a bundle of hand written sheets as evidence of the interest due. We had to ask someone in our IT department to check the calculations for us using a very whizzy piece of technology … known as Excel. As well as learning about Excel the exercise also made me incredibly cautious about mortgages having seen interest rates go from 8.5% to 12% in the space of a few months!

Finally, you might not know this about me but…

I used to do competitive synchronised swimming when I was at school. That’s when I learnt how to smile under pressure. And how to sew sequins. Both are excellent life skills. 

Issue: 1401
Categories: One minute with