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Sponsored briefing: The inside view – Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP

Disputes specialist Joseph Hage Aaronson has achieved extraordinary results in a market packed with high achievers. Here’s everything you need to know

In 2018, specialist disputes practice Joseph Hage Aaronson (JHA) celebrates its fifth birthday. In the half-decade since it was first founded, the firm has experienced meteoric growth, driven by a combination of its integrated approach and unique client offer.

The firm works to deliver the best results for clients, whether through a litigation, arbitration, mediation or settlement process. Its cohesive approach to resolving disputes through its multidisciplinary team of barristers, solicitors, forensic accountants, researchers and paralegals, has earned the respect and admiration of clients, peers and directories alike.

The intention of the firm has always been to avoid the pitfalls of the split profession, by seamlessly combining the best qualities of a top chambers with those of a traditional top-tier law firm. Barristers and solicitors, with their distinctive training and experience, work closely as an integrated team to discuss and devise strategy from the beginning of a case through to its conclusion. As a result, each client receives benefits including full and easy access to the whole legal team from the very first meeting, quick turnaround of advice, and the efficient delivery of a well-considered and effective case strategy.

Tom Beazley QC

‘By combining the most relevant and experienced professionals in an integrated approach from the outset, JHA is able to provide a service that best meets each client’s particular needs.’
Tom Beazley QC, partner

When the firm opened in 2013, it was with a substantial tax litigation team in place. While the tax side has expanded since then, the commercial litigation and arbitration side of the practice has grown enormously and now makes up the majority of the firm. With support from the costs litigation, investigations and litigation technology teams, the firm is able to provide an exceptional breadth of services to meet the needs of any client facing a dispute.

Graham Aaronson QC

‘We have achieved extraordinary results for our clients in some of the most ground-breaking and high-value cases in Europe.’
Graham Aaronson QC, partner

Key practice areas

Commercial litigation

‘Our experience allows us to conduct cases efficiently and effectively to deliver the best possible outcomes for our clients. With our ability to field multidisciplinary teams, we can provide our clients with a unique perspective into the litigation process and prepare their cases with a clear focus on the most persuasive arguments from the get go.’
Richard Kiddell, partner

JHA’s commercial litigation team has already been instructed by clients on their largest and most complex cases, often involving novel issues of law, jurisdiction and procedure. The team has considerable experience, not only of litigation in courts and tribunals, but also of mediation and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

Frequently the team is engaged to provide risk management advice to clients at the stage of contract formation, or in the infancy of their commercial relationships. Where a formal litigation process is necessary, the firm’s team of barristers and solicitors boasts an enviable depth of experience across a wide range of industry sectors, having acted in cases involving courts and jurisdictions across the globe.

As well as acting as a primary legal adviser for its clients, JHA is often engaged by clients at a later stage in the life cycle of a case. The firm may be asked to offer a different strategic and legal perspective, or to look at different ways to facilitate the settlement of a dispute. At all times, the JHA team considers most appropriate use of the various litigation technologies for the particular case, for example, in e-disclosure or in the presentation of cases at trial.

Michelle Duncan

‘Bringing together an integrated team of barristers and lawyers to devise case strategy saves our clients both time and costs. Most importantly, it gives them the best chance of securing the results they desire.’
Michelle Duncan, partner


The arbitration team at JHA has extensive experience in representing large corporations, state entities and high-net-worth individuals in both commercial arbitrations and international treaty claims. The team also has significant experience in the enforcement of arbitration awards through national courts and of other arbitration-related court proceedings, such as challenges to awards.

Examples of recent cases in which JHA has been involved include:

  • Investor-state disputes relating to sovereign debt restructuring
  • Post-mergers and acquisitions disputes
  • Investment disputes in the extractive industry
  • The worldwide enforcement of an arbitral award by a tribunal constituted under ICC rules
  • Construction disputes involving private investors, sovereign states, and the ICC
  • Analysis of investor-state claims against sovereign states

JHA’s expertise in international arbitration and international treaty claims has seen the firm engaged by clients in many high-profile and high-value cases. These cases have proceeded under a variety of different institutional rules (such as the ICC, LCIA and ICSID Rules) in a number of different seats and subject to various governing laws.

The JHA team involves relevant experts (local law experts, or industry and subject matter experts) at the moment when their services are most valuable to clients. New technologies are deployed at relevant stages through the dispute life cycle to ensure client cases are conducted as cost effectively and as compellingly as possible.

Tax disputes

The contentious tax team brings together a community of highly experienced barristers, solicitors, accountants, tax advisers and paralegals. Together, the team delivers a cohesive approach to advising and representing clients throughout all stages of a dispute.

The team represents clients through all stages of their tax disputes, from initial enquiries and, where necessary, at all levels of the tribunals and courts. It acts for a variety of international clients and often assists in disputes with foreign revenue authorities.

The team is best known for acting as lead and test-case solicitors in almost all corporation tax group litigation orders (GLOs), which bring together High Court claims made by multinational corporations both within and outside the UK. These claims are ground-breaking and have successfully challenged various elements of the UK’s tax legislation as being contrary to EU legal principles.

Daniel Margolin QC

‘The arbitration team at JHA is involved in some of the most significant, challenging, and high-value commercial and investment treaty arbitrations in the world. Our integrated approach brings together the experience and expertise of our barristers and solicitors from the very outset of a case, and in my view delivers real advantages over a traditional chambers/law firm model.’
Daniel Margolin QC, partner

The team also acts in a wide range of domestic tax disputes, assisting clients to resolve issues and disputes with HMRC.

It regularly advises both corporations and individuals facing complex enquiries and, occasionally, criminal investigations. The firm has developed a practice of attempting to resolve tax disputes by proactive and co-operative engagement with HMRC. This approach has delivered a high proportion of positive outcomes for clients, and allowed the team to develop a constructive working relationship with HMRC.

Steven Gee QC

‘We have experience across a broad range of arbitration work including agency agreements, distribution agreements, commercial contracts, joint ventures, partnership, sale of goods, insurance, reinsurance, misrepresentation and civil fraud, shipping, shipbuilding, company law, and banking.’
Steven Gee QC, partner


The investigations team is headed up by KPMG’s former global forensic head, Adam Bates. The team employs experienced white-collar crime and regulatory defence lawyers, investigative lawyers, former regulators and forensic accountants, all of whom have worked in one of the Big Four accountancy firms.

With access to such levels of experience and skills, JHA provides both rapid and in-depth investigative services relating to the following areas among others: regulatory enquiries, suspected or actual fraud, attempted blackmail, divorce negotiations and crisis management. It also performs background checks on current or potential employees, directors, and trading partners on behalf of clients, as part of their corporate due diligence.

The team determines ownership of assets, traces transactions through accounting records, analyses and presents complex financial data, reviews social media activity, interviews witnesses and gathers other forms of financial evidence.

Traditionally, such work is often shared between lawyers in a law firm, forensic accountants in accounting and boutique investigation firms, and other specialists across a network of suppliers. Uniquely for a law firm, however, JHA has access to a comprehensive range of investigative skills under the same roof.

‘We can draw on experience from all areas of the domestic court and tribunal system, from the First-tier Tribunal to the Supreme Court. We have also represented clients in numerous references to the Court of Justice of the European Union and in high-value, business-critical tax disputes in foreign jurisdictions. We pride ourselves on our track record of delivering consistently strong outcomes for our clients.’
Michael Anderson, partner – tax disputes

The team is able to deliver a wide range of client benefits from this integrated approach. From a commercial perspective, it immediately eliminates overlap and competition between firms within a supplier network. From an operational perspective, all members of the team are familiar with each other’s methods and understand the role and value of each distinct investigative skillset.

Costs litigation

JHA has a forward focused and innovative costs litigation team, which provides costs litigation services to other law firms and in-house legal departments requiring specialist expertise and advice.

The costs team offers a dedicated and comprehensive legal service that is tailored to individual client needs. It works as a trusted partner, and many clients view the team as an extension of their own business, as if they had their own in-house costs practice.

The costs team has experience of large, complex commercial litigation and arbitration costs claims. This breadth and depth of experience enables the team to produce detailed and accurate bills of costs from voluminous electronic time and disbursement data.

The team of costs lawyers and solicitors has used modern methods of bill drafting for many years before J-Codes were introduced and continues to investigate new technologies that will assist in developing a more efficient and effective process of costs recovery.

The costs team provides a close, supportive and dedicated network of commercial costs lawyers with the skills and experience to handle complex and high-value matters. It also works to offer flexible fee agreement that is competitive and provides some assurance over the fees ultimately payable.

Adam Bates

‘At JHA we pride ourselves on providing unmatched strategic advice from the get-go that enables our clients to achieve the best possible outcomes in their disputes or in their dealings with regulators.
We are constantly working to enhance our capability in detection and discovery by applying cutting-edge technology to legal investigation. This enables us to locate key documents and review transactional data to identify unseen themes and patterns and key emails and communications from the ever evolving messenger services.
The extent of our strategic and investigative skills is matched only by our focus on efficient client delivery. We work to report findings in tight timeframes, accompanied by clear and timely advice. Our work allows our clients the clarity and confidence they need to resolve the issues they face.’
Adam Bates, partner – investigations

Alongside this broad range of services, the costs team aims to provide flexibility in commercial arrangements with clients. The team has previously negotiated arrangements including deferred payment terms, fixed fees and conditional fees.

Areas of specialism include significant commercial litigation matters, (including tax litigation, shipping matters, insurance litigation, international arbitrations and substantial group litigation), as well as white-collar crime, catastrophic injury, clinical negligence and industrial disease claims.

Work undertaken by the costs team has involved claims for costs in all courts of England and Wales, as well as international tribunals.

The Legal 500 view

Tax disputes

  • Michael Anderson ‘combines technical acumen and commercial understanding’ and Daniel Margolin QC is another key contact in the tax litigation group.
  • The ‘pre-eminent firm for tax litigation in London, and, indeed, in the UK more generally’. The group is made-up of ‘phenomenal’ silks, experienced partners and forensic accountants, who have experience of UK and EU tax litigation and particular strength in corporation tax group litigation orders.

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