Legal Business

Market Report: Tax Litigation – Out of the shadows

Market Report: Tax Litigation – Out of the shadows

Political pressure to crack down on evasion and Bribery Act-style powers are pushing tax disputes onto boardroom agendas, writes Dominic Carman

Tax investigations and disputes historically rarely made the headlines, except for the occasional world-class footballer or rows over globe-trotting firms slashing their tax bills.

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: The taxman cometh – What GCs need to know

Sponsored briefing: The taxman cometh – What GCs need to know

Nick Skerrett examines the trend of tax dispute management falling to GCs and tax litigators, as HMRC takes a tougher enforcement stance

Tax used to be an area where lawyers feared to tread. That has changed dramatically as the environment for resolution of tax disputes has evolved over recent years. We are seeing a growing trend of the management of tax disputes shifting out of the tax department and onto the desks of general or litigation counsel. In parallel, board-level scrutiny and engagement, and responsibility, have increased. This change to managing tax disputes as an area of legal risk, set against a backdrop of increasing complexity and scrutiny, raises new challenges.

Legal Business

Sponsored firm profile: Simmons & Simmons

Sponsored firm profile: Simmons & Simmons

Engaging Simmons & Simmons tax is different. We have deep strategic expertise and the experience to create a bespoke solution that works for all stages of tax disputes, from the first call from the tax authority through to litigation in the most senior courts.

Simmons & Simmons has one of the strongest contentious tax practices in the market, specialising in complex, high-value tax disputes. We are one of very few law firms to have a truly dedicated contentious tax practice, with partners and associates entirely focused on tax litigation and disputes and the only large law firm genuinely able to blend accountancy, economics and legal expertise on tax disputes. We are proud of our reputation for excellence and are committed to getting results for our clients in their most complex matters.

Legal Business

Simmons looks to the City in increased partner round as Gowling doubles promotions to ten

Simmons looks to the City in increased partner round as Gowling doubles promotions to ten

Top-25 UK firms Simmons & Simmons and Gowling WLG have followed suit on a series of strong partnership promotion rounds, making up 15 and 10 respectively.

Simmons promoted 15 lawyers to partner, eight of which were minted in London. The round is a significant increase on last year, when nine lawyers were promoted across the firm – a decrease from 12 the previous year – with only four promoted in the City.

Of the 15 promoted this year, six are women, seeing the firm make good on its commitment to have at least 30% of all promotion rounds comprised by women.

In London Adam Brown, Chris Owen, Elizabeth Williams and Priya Nagpal were all given the nod to become partners of the firm’s disputes practice, which received the lion’s share of the firm’s promotions with six new partners. Cathryn Bean, meanwhile, was promoted in the firm’s employment practice, while Kathryn James and Alex Ainley were promoted in the London financial markets practice. Jonathan Spencer was made up in the firm’s Bristol disputes practice.

Fourteen of the promotions were across Europe and the Middle East. The sole Asia-Pacific promotion was corporate lawyer Claudia Yiu in Hong Kong.

Gowling, meanwhile, has doubled its UK LLP’s 2018 promotions round to make up 10 partners this year.

In the UK, the firm promoted two partners to the real estate practice, three to its dispute resolution group, two in pensions, and one each in EU, trade and competition and commercial, IT and outsourcing. In France, employment lawyer Gaëlle Le Breton was made partner.

The promotions are up on last year, when five were promoted, and follow four lateral hires across different practice groups over the last year.

Gowling chief executive David Fennell (pictured) commented: ‘Our new partners are all outstanding lawyers and business advisers, with a wealth of expertise in their respective areas, consistently delivering a first class service to our clients. Their diverse skills and experience will enhance Gowling WLG’s support to clients around the world and the continued growth of the firm.’

Simmons & Simmons promotions in full:


Adam Brown – dispute resolution, London

Alex Ainley – financial markets, London

Cathryn Bean – employment, London

Chris Owen – dispute resolution, London

Elizabeth Williams – dispute resolution, London

Kathryn James – financial markets, London

Ed Smith – employment, London

Priya Nagpal – dispute resolution, London

Jonathan Spencer – dispute resolution, Bristol

Christopher Goetz – corporate, Munich

Gijs ter Braak – corporate, Amsterdam

Paul Tjiam – dispute resolution, Amsterdam

Maria Tomillo – financial markets, Madrid

Simone Lucatello – financial markets, Milan

Claudia Yiu – corporate, Hong Kong

Gowling WLG UK LLP’s partner promotions in full:


Daniel Leather – Housing, Development and Regeneration

Toni Weston – Planning

Catherine Naylor – Commercial Litigation

Helen Davenport – Commercial Litigation

Sam Beighton – EU, Trade and Competition

Kieran Laird – Projects

Jocelyn Paulley – Commercial, IT and Outsourcing

Christopher Stiles – Pensions

Joanne Tibbott – Pensions

Gaëlle Le Breton – Employment

Legal Business

The Simmons interview: What to worry about

The Simmons interview: What to worry about

Legal Business: Simmons seems to have come out of a period of malaise. What have been the primary drivers for that growth over the last two years?

Jeremy Hoyland, managing partner: Most of that has been driven by the sectors, so [opening in] Ireland is not because we’re interested in the domestic market. We’re interested because it’s an important market for banks and funds.

Legal Business

Disputes round-up: Simmons wins Petrofac mandate as White & Case makes key regulatory hire

Disputes round-up: Simmons wins Petrofac mandate as White & Case makes key regulatory hire

Simmons & Simmons has landed a major Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation mandate at the expense of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Simmons’ crime, fraud and investigations head Stephen Gentle and partner Nick Benwell have been enlisted to defend oil and gas company Petrofac in the SFO probe, taking on the mandate from Freshfields.

The Magic Circle firm had been appointed to advise Petrofac after the SFO confirmed in May 2017 it was investigating the company due to ‘suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering.’ The probe formed part of a wider investigation into Unaoil, which is accused of the same offences.

In addition to Freshfields, Petrofac called on Ashurst’s veteran dispute partner Edward Sparrow in August 2017 to advise as a ‘senior external specialist’.

Freshfields declined to comment. Simmons was approached for comment.

Meanwhile, White & Case’s London lateral hiring spree has continued with the appointment of financial regulatory partner Jonathan Rogers.

Rogers joins from Taylor Wessing, where he had been a partner since 2008. At his time of leaving, Rogers was head of Taylor Wessing’s financial services regulatory group in London.

Carrying 20 years’ experience advising financial institutions on a full range of Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigations, Rogers has a particular focus on asset management, private banks, the payments industry as well as investment and lending platforms.

Eric Leicht, head of White & Case’s global banking practice, commented: ‘Banks continue to demand expert advice on regulatory regimes around the globe. Jonathan is well positioned to step in and assist our large, sophisticated financial institution clients on the most complex regulatory issues they face.’

Rogers’ arrival marks the second major lateral hire White & Case has made this month, following the recruitment of Weil Gotshal & Mages’ well-regarded banking head, Mark Donald.

Other recent laterals at White & Case include high-profile infrastructure partner Simon Caridia from Herbert Smith Freehills in October and in the same month, Weil counsel Thomas Falkus as a partner for its capital markets practice.

Legal Business

Trebles all round as Simmons re-elects Hoyland for another term

Trebles all round as Simmons re-elects Hoyland for another term

Simmons & Simmons has re-elected Jeremy Hoyland as managing partner for a third term on the back of a year of substantive investment and revenue growth.

Hoyland, who was first elected as managing partner in May 2011, was uncontested in his re-election, with his third term set to start on 1 May 2019.

The faith of Simmons partnership in its managing partner comes after the firm in June posted one of its strongest results since the financial crisis. It hiked revenue 12% to hit £354m after a year of sustained recruitment and foreign expansion as net profit surged 19% to £110m and profit per equity partner (PEP) increased 8% to £686,000.

At the time, Hoyland (pictured) told Legal Business that the revenue growth was ‘all organic’ and ‘significantly greater than expected’, attributing the standout performance to high demand in the firm’s core sectors of funds, financial institutions, healthcare and life sciences and TMT. Together these areas contributed to over three quarters (76%) of the top 20 UK firm’s income.

The firm has seen revenue grow by nearly 50% over the past eight years and PEP rise by 53% in that time, while the firm also cites a 100% uptick in female partners during Hoyland’s previous terms. Other recent highlights include Simmons’ flexible resourcing model, Adaptive, recording turnover of £10m in the last financial year.

Innovation will be a main focus going forward, with new products Translator and Disputes Aviator cited as major wins with growing subscriber bases. Hoyland said: ‘Over the past four years, we have seen developments in innovation, the use of new game-changing tools and technology and the rise of resourcing models that have had a real impact on the firm and our offering to clients. My focus now will be on driving creativity and adaptability and further embedding our sector approach that we know is so important to our clients. The firm I know is bold and agile and these are going to be key attributes in dealing with the uncertainty in the months and years ahead.’

Hoyland started his Simmons career as a trainee in 1989 and has worked in its Hong Kong and London offices, holding several management roles. In his tenure as managing partner, Hoyland has overseen a number of major developments, not least the opening of six new offices: Beijing in 2011, Bristol in 2012, Singapore and Munich in 2013, Luxembourg in 2015 and Dublin most recently this year.

Legal Business

Expansive Simmons shrugs off sluggish post-Lehman form to drive income up 12% to £354m

Expansive Simmons shrugs off sluggish post-Lehman form to drive income up 12% to £354m

Simmons & Simmons has posted one of its strongest results since the banking crisis, with the City firm announcing a 12% hike in revenues to hit £354m. After a year of sustained recruitment and foreign expansion, the 280-partner firm also saw net profits surge 19% to £110m and profit per equity partner (PEP) up 8% to £686,000.

The headline 12% growth rate comes after a 7% increase for 2016/17 and looks set to be one of the most robust showings in its weight class this year even against the backdrop of active markets. In common with many large City firms over the last decade, Simmons has struggled to sustain strong growth.

Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland (pictured) told Legal Business that the revenue growth was ‘all organic’ and ‘significantly greater than expected’. He attributed the performance to high demand in the firm’s core sectors, which span funds, financial institutions, healthcare and life sciences and TMT. Together these areas contributed to over three quarters (76%) of the top 20 UK firm’s income.

‘We have focused on those areas for quite some time and it’s great to see revenues coming from there,’ added Hoyland. ‘Most or all of our laterals over the past year have come from these areas.’

Simmons made 25 lateral partner hires and nine partner promotions throughout the year, and Hoyland noted that the expansion of its partnership ranks accounted for the discrepancy between the firm’s sharply rising net profit and lower PEP percentage growth figures.

Hoyland added that the firm’s focus on alternative legal services had also paid dividends, with its flexible resourcing platform Adaptive amassing £10m in turnover throughout the year. ‘It doesn’t have a big reputation in the market yet but £10m is not immaterial. We are focusing a lot on these non-standard legal services.’ The Adaptive business was launched in 2014.

The firm also benefitted from an influx of one-off GDPR work, which accounted for roughly £1m in revenue over the year.

In terms of strategic objectives for the year ahead, Hoyland pointed to continental consolidation: ‘We continue to have some offices where we want to have greater strength in depth. We’ve seen growing revenue in Amsterdam and Paris but we’re keen for our other European offices to expand. We have a lot of offices for a £350m business so it can be quite thinly spread, especially as our business tends to be quite niche.’

Further launches in Europe would build upon the firm’s establishment of a Dublin branch, announced in October last year. The office was opened with a lateral hire from Mason Hayes & Curran. 

Other firms to announce 2017/18 financial results include Pinsent Masons, which recorded a 6% growth in turnover to £449.8m.

Despite concerns regarding the impact of Brexit on the UK economy and unease over global trade tensions, 2017/18 is widely tipped to be one of the most lucrative financial years for major law firms since the 2000s boom.

Legal Business

Partner promotions: women make up nearly half of reduced Simmons promotion round

Partner promotions: women make up nearly half of reduced Simmons promotion round

Simmons & Simmons has promoted four women to partner as part of a reduced round of just nine partner promotions globally, with London promotions also dropping this year.

The nine promotions announced today (30 April) is a dip from last year’s 12, but being 45% female exceeds the firm’s commitment to have women comprise 30% of all managing associate and partner promotions each year. The promotions span a variety of locations and practise areas, although with only four being made up in London, compared to seven last year.

Paula Macnamara and Patrick Boyd join the firm’s London banking and corporate teams respectively, while George Morris completes the London line-up in the information, communication and technology practice. Olly Jones, meanwhile, joins the firm’s employment practice in Bristol and London.

Elsewhere, Caroline Turner-Inskip joins the firm’s Bristol real estate offering, while Céline Larmet joins the Paris office in financial markets. Amanda Lees and Jonathan Quie were made up in Singapore, and Daniel Kendziur joins the Munich IP practice.

Simmons & Simmons’ senior partner Colin Passmore commented on the round: ‘Their promotions highlight the firm’s diverse range of talent across all practices and sectors. I look forward to working with these individuals and helping their personal development as they in turn help to take the firm forward.’

He told Legal Business: ‘Over the last few years there has been a concerted effort to recognise gender balance. We’ve been focusing on our female talent and we’re starting to see the fruits of that coming through.’

Simmons’ promotions come as firms face more scrutiny for ensuring diversity and parity at the top end of law, with Clifford Chance (CC) being the latest firm to announce a stronger round for women.

Simmons & Simmons partner promotions in full:

Paula Macnamara – London, banking
Patrick Boyd – London, corporate
George Morris – London, information, communications and technology
Olly Jones – Bristol/London, employment
Caroline Turner-Inskip – Bristol, real estate
Daniel Kendziur – Munich, intellectual property
Céline Larmet – Paris, financial markets
Jonathan Quie – Singapore, financial markets
Amanda Lees – Singapore, dispute resolution