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One minute with... Julian Hickey

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

At the start of the pandemic, I thought my practice was going to collapse because of the number of cases I had listed for in person hearing. However, the hearings were all held on a virtual basis, covering one to two day appeals in the First-tier Tribunal (FTT), Upper Tribunal (UT) and Court of Appeal (CA); and a five day trial in the Chancery Division. This has kept me particularly busy covering diverse issues ranging from corporate tax residence, tax treaties and disclosure of information, industrial building allowances, SDLT planning, VAT, income tax and transfer of assets abroad; together with Pitt v Holt mistake and breach of trust claims, judicial review and proceeds of crime act applications.

If you could make one change to a tax law or practice, what would it be?

I would reintroduce the ability to make oral submissions on permission to appeal applications from the UT to the CA (perhaps, subject to an appropriate fee or costs order if unsuccessful). Sometimes, it is necessary to make oral submissions and engage with a judge in order to persuade the court that there is an arguable case. This route is available on appeals from the FTT where permission to appeal has been refused on the papers; and it works very well with the ability to make oral submissions to a UT judge, and engage directly with the judge’s concerns.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in tax?

On any view, my career has not followed the standard route in tax. I started as an academic (I have a Ph.D), became a solicitor (then partner in various City law firms), then a barrister (eventually co-founding Addington Chambers, with Adrian Shipwright). I have been lucky enough to have a very varied career, which has enabled me to advise on a breadth of issues and meet clients from all walks of life. My advice to anyone working in tax is to get as much experience as possible working with clients and to engage in advisory work across all the major taxes (and to always understand the underlying non-tax position). It has benefited me to work as part of a team, and also to lead teams, whether as a partner or barrister, across a broad and diverse range of cases.

Has a recent case caught your eye?

R (on the application of Haworth) v HMRC [2021] UKSC 25 (2 July 2021) where the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the CA to quash a follower notice issued by HMRC. The practical implications are that HMRC cannot issue a valid notice unless they are able to form the opinion that there is no scope for a reasonable person to disagree that the earlier ruling used to justify the notice denies the taxpayer the advantage. As the Supreme Court stated: ‘Only then can they be said to have formed the opinion that the relevant ruling “would” deny the advantage. An opinion merely that is likely to do so is not sufficient.’ Clearly, this raises the distinct possibility that a range of follower notices are invalid in circumstances where HMRC has been applying the wrong approach to the legislation. Watch out for future challenges in this area in respect of notices which have been issued and/or the taxpayer has paid the notice and/or is facing enforcement action.

What should we look out for later this year?

First, whether the Supreme Court grants permission for an appeal to be heard in Development Securities Plc and others v HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 1705 (if so, I look forward to working with Sam Grodzinski QC and the rest of the team at Duane Morris, together with Alistair Armstrong, head of tax at U+I Plc, in the final step of this appeal). In that case, the Court of Appeal held that certain Jersey incorporated subsidiaries of a UK group were UK tax resident. Second, publication of my book, co-authored with Adrian, titled Taxation of entertainers and sportspeople (Spiramus Press).

You might not know this about me but...

I am a keen sailor and beekeeper (Hickey Honey), although not at the same time and only to the extent my twins permit.

Issue: 1541
Categories: One minute with