Event: Taxation & Substance Over Form. Where are we now?

Wednesday 4th March 2020 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Red Room 3 The Plaza
Old Hall Street, Liverpool
Followed by drinks and a chance to discuss the issues.
No charge for attendance.

Your Speaker on 4th March 2020 is Michael Sherry

• What is a “realistic view of the transaction”
• A review of the case law including:
• Barclays Mercantile, UBS, Rangers,
• Are the rules different for different taxes?
• Hull City Tigers
Are the rules different for tax and for other areas of law?
• Mozprom v Pugachev
• What will leaving the Europe Union mean?

As with previous sessions Michael will be working through some examples. However if participants would like to raise their real life problems that would be welcomed. Any specific examples you would like to raise should be sent to us a week before the session.

Numbers for these sessions are strictly limited. Early booking is essential – please email emma.wall@completecounsel.co.uk

Event: Association versus Causation: Epidemiology versus the law? Part II – Logic or Experience? Thursday, 6 February 2020

Date: Thursday, 6 February 2020

Venue: DWF, 20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 3AG – Directions


  • 4:00 Registration
  • 4:30 Introduction by Chair, Charles Feeny
  • 4:35 Professor Maurice Zeegers – Forensic Epidemiology and Probabilistic Causation
  • 5:10 Professor Jon Beard – Pathology and Risk Factors in DVT
  • 5:30 Short break
  • 5:35 Case Study Panel with Professor Zeegers, Professor Beard and Per Laleng, Senior Lecturer
    in Law, University of Kent
  • 6:15 Concluding words from Professor Zeegers
  • 6:30 Close and drinks

The programme has been designed around a case study involving deep venous thrombosis (DVT). The study has been constructed in a way to be relevant both to group litigation and clinical negligence claims. The study is available now on the Pro-Vide website (www.pro-vide-law.co.uk) and through the LinkedIn group for this event.

Forensic epidemiology is a developing discipline and one of the first professors in the world, Maurice Zeegers, will speak on the concepts of forensic epidemiology and how the same can be used in the application of epidemiological evidence in litigation. To assist in the understanding of the case studies, Professor Jonathan Beard will explain the pathology and risk factors in relation to deep venous thrombosis. Professor Beard is a consultant vascular surgeon and Professor of Surgical Education at the Royal College of Surgeons.

After a short break, the case study will be discussed with a panel and, hopefully, significant contributions from the audience. In addition to Professor Zeegers and Professor Beard, the panel will include Mr Per Laleng, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Kent, who takes a particular interest in the issues surrounding the use of statistical evidence in Court.

The event will end with some concluding remarks from Professor Zeegers, in particular as to how the issues might usefully be taken forward.

Please be aware that numbers are limited. If you are interested, please email emma.wall@completecounsel.co.uk to register.

Event: Crime & Punishment with Lorraine Mensah

Advising defendants of risk of deprivation of British citizenship and deportation.

Wednesday 9th October 2019
Registration 4.30pm
Seminar 4.45pm-5.45pm
Ground Floor Conference Suite, The Plaza,
100 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9QJ

Delegate Fee £35 + VAT

RSVP emma.wall@Completecounsel.co.uk

January Tax Surgeries for Liverpool and Manchester


Thursday 24th January 2019 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Centurion House, Room 1, 129 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WR
Followed by drinks and a chance to discuss the issues. No charge for attendance.


Tuesday 22nd January 2019 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Red Room 3 The Plaza Old Hall Street, Liverpool
Followed by drinks and a chance to discuss the issues. No charge for attendance.

Partnerships – an update

Your Speaker in January 2019 is Michael Sherry


• Recap of the changes
– FA 2014 – Mixed partnerships; salaried partners
– FA 2018, Sched. 6 – Indirect partnerships
• Ascertainment of profits share for tax; case law, priority profit shares, capital allowances and balancing charges and profit waterfalls
• SP D12 and base cost shift
• Corporate members used to acquire assets, followed by base cost shift
• Disposals of income streams etc.
• Likely developments?
Given this is January if you have question about how to complete
a partnership return and you would like it discussed at the seminar
please email details a couple of days before.

As with previous sessions Michael will be working through some examples. However if participants would like to raise their real life problems that would be welcomed. Any specific examples you would like to raise should be sent to us a week before the session.

Numbers for these sessions are strictly limited. Early booking is essential – please email claire.labio@completecounsel.co.uk

Recoverability of agent fees… the battle goes on by Andi Barnes

Article taken from the January 2019 issue of the Liverpool Law Magazine. View the complete magazine here.

Andi Barnes of Complete Counsel examines recent costs cases and the recoverability of agent fees

The costs world no doubt hoped, following the Supreme Court decision in Crane v Canons Leisure Centre Limited [2007] EWCA Civ 1352, for a definitive binding precedent on the issue of recoverability of external agents’ fees as a base cost whether with or without a pre-LASPO success fee. Indeed, a plethora of costs case law was cited and the matter carefully considered with May LJ proclaiming his distaste for the unsavoury flavour of “satellite costs of assessing those costs in the Part 8 proceedings begun for that purpose” and Hallett LJ carefully addressing any potential breach of the indemnity principle and finding none.

However, it appears that the battle goes on with paying parties continuing to dispute recoverability of external agents’ fees as a base cost and/or recoverability of a pre-LASPO success fee. The problem appears to have arisen having regard to the starting point cited by May LJ in Crane; the definition of base costs given in the Collective Conditional Fee Agreement (CCFA). The Supreme court held the external agents’ fees of Costings Limited was work that a solicitor would have been retained to undertake and amounted to base costs suitably incorporated within the CCFA as “charges for work done by or on behalf of the solicitor which would have been payable if this agreement did not provide for a success fee”. Furthermore, the Supreme Court allowed a pre-LASPO success fee on such costs.

In Guy v Morpeth Borough Council (2006) Case 4ML01218, 9 December 2006 (cited in Crane) HHJ Hewitt held the issue turned “on the terms of the CFA and its proper construction” and considered not only the wording of the CFA but also any other terms and conditions that were said to be to be incorporated into that agreement on the definition of basic charges. He held that costs draftsman’ work was not recoverable as a base cost as it did not fall within the definition of “solicitor agent” in the CFA and therefore a pre-LASPO success fee was disallowed.

In Ahmed v Aventis Pharma Limited [2009] EWHC 90152 (Costs), Master Gordon- Saker, in the detailed assessment of costs to be paid by the Legal Services Commission, considered whether work done by a medical records agency, Medical Clerical Bureau (MCB), could be recovered as a base cost or disbursement. He was satisfied that, work done by MCB sorting and summarising medical records was solicitor’s work and therefore recoverable at a higher rate than the sum charged to the solicitor on the basis that “the work done by MCB to sort and analyse the medical records was solicitors’ work”. In Ahmed it was accepted that pagination was not fee earner work and photocopying was a disbursement with charges for photocopying recoverable where they held to be exceptional. The issue of whether a success fee was recoverable did not arise.

The matter of recoverability of MCB’s fees was further explored in CM (as
Dependent and Administratrix of the Estate of JM, Deceased) v a NHS Trust (2018) Case SCCO Ref: BRO 1801402, 5 December 2018 where I appeared for the Defendant paying party; a detailed assessment of costs concerning recoverability of MCB’s work as a base cost together with a pre-LASPO success fee. The matter was initially listed for detailed assessment on 12 June 2018 with the success fee having been assessed at 60% but was adjourned, part-heard, by Order of Master Brown for further evidence and skeleton argument “as to recoverability of sums claimed in respect of the work undertaken in respect of medical records by ‘MCB’ as profit costs and in particular as to whether such work may be charged as if undertaken by a fee earner and, further, as to whether a success fee is recoverable in respect of the same work”.

The Defendant put the Claimant to strict proof that MCB’s work was a base cost properly recoverable under Shoosmiths solicitor’s CFA. The Master was asked to consider, in essence, three questions; 1) Was the work undertaken by MCB a base cost or disbursement? 2) If any of the work was held to be a base cost, could a success fee be recovered on such costs? and, in the event that the work was considered to be a base cost, 3) What hourly rate should such work be recoverable if incorporated into the CFA? Such questions were framed against the background of whether there was breach of the indemnity principle and having regard to the new test of proportionality; MCB having been instructed after the implementation of LASPO.

The Master considered the wording of the CFA; in particular the definition given under various sections of that CFA including ‘paying us’, ‘basic charges’, how charges are calculated in particular with the use of the words “and other staff ” and under charges for advocacy. The Master approached the issue effectively in two parts. First, whether the MCB work could be considered as a base cost recoverable within the terms of the CFA and second, whether there was breach of the indemnity principle. In giving an extempore judgment whilst he considered some of the work undertaken by MCB could be considered to be solicitor work that on consideration of the terms of the CFA and its proper construction, having regard to the indemnity principle, he could not be satisfied that the wording of the CFA incorporated MCB’s work as a base cost. He was not therefore satisfied that such work could be recovered as a base cost within the terms of the CFA and therefore a pre-LASPO success fee could not be recovered on such work. The Master did not find pagination and photocopying solicitor’s work but held that sorting and analysing records was solicitor’s work.

It appears therefore that the battle goes on, however, against the backdrop of the Supreme Court having already expressed a marked distaste for such satellite costs on costs.

View the full issue here


One of the many disconcerting features of getting older is when young people look blank as you mention the name of someone you regard as seminal. I have had recent experience of this with James Thurber, my favourite comic writer, and even Rex Harrison. Rex Harrison attended the same dance classes as my grandmother in Liverpool in the 1920s. Whilst I would not necessarily expect a millennial to be aware of this specific fact, it is nonetheless disturbing when someone has never even heard of him.

Although I have not yet tried, I would anticipate a similar reaction if I mentioned Heath Robinson. Heath Robinson was a cartoonist who was best known for his drawings of what Mark Bryant described as “ridiculously complicated machines for achieving simple objectives”. The popularity of his cartoons probably reflected interest in engineering in the Industrial Age and the English fondness, to use a good Yorkshire expression, of ‘Knackling’ machinery together. The humour was completed by a simple but absurd ultimate objective of the machine. Ridiculously complicated mechanisms were shown for “removing a wart from the top of the head” or “resuscitating stale railway scones for redistribution at station buffets”. My favourite creation was the “multi-movement tabby silencer”, which automatically threw water at serenading cats.

Heath Robinson died in 1944 and could not have guessed that he was to be an inspiration to the IT industry.

When we launched Complete Counsel just over two years ago, it was our intention to use digital technology for basic service provided by the support business so far as possible. Whilst we have been able to achieve an efficient and cost effective way using currently available software, it is clear to us that the available products do seem to have a Heath Robinson quality in terms of a degree of complication disproportionate to their value in terms of functionality. What we really need is a very simple programme which can receive Instructions and enclosures and transmit the same internally so that they can be worked upon efficiently and used in Court. Having spoken to a number of IT providers, the best I have achieved so far is an acknowledgment that this is “a good idea”.

More generally, complaints about the quality and functionality of IT systems appear to be everyday conversation in Chambers and law firms. The technology does not appear to have moved on in any substantial way since first introduced over 20 years ago and developments seem to occur in an ad hoc way. The IT industry has possibly based its business models on those of the operators of motorway service stations; there is no real incentive to offer something of high quality at a reasonable cost when there is demand for average quality at a high price.

What is often offered is an additional programme which in some ways will supplement and improve the basic programme. These packages are called ,possibly in deference to Heath Robinson , ‘bolt ons’. Whilst many of them are clever and slick, in practical terms they only offer a marginal improvement on the basic functionality at an additional cost.

So I continue to receive Instructions and enclosures in a number of different ways. I might be sent a large number of PDFs, often too many for one email. These PDFs are not necessarily clearly labelled ; usually they require considering and ordering before I can start work on them. It has to be acknowledged that this is better than receiving what appears, to all intents and purposes, to be a client’s entire file, sometimes over 2,000 long in one PDF. Some clients operate by permitting access to a secure platform within their own system. However, access to and use of this platform can prove cumbersome and time consuming.

One IT salesman suggested to me that the problem was rooted in the difficulty of claiming ownership of intellectual property in relation to software systems. This disincentivised time and money being spent on their development. This appears to be a paradoxical situation in which possible developers are deterred because the solution is such an obvious one.

It may be that the way forward would be for the Bar to consider collectively whether better IT provision could be achieved. Many practitioners are cynical about the effectiveness of the Bar Council in promoting the continuance of the Bar as a robust and independent profession. This objective could best be achieved by enabling barristers to become laptop lawyers, operating at minimal basic cost. Facilitating the financing of appropriate software to achieve this objective could be a reasonable aspiration for the Bar Council.

All change – new discount rate

On the 27th February 2017 the MOJ announced that the discount rate, previously set at 2.5%, would drop down to -0.75% with effect from the 20th March 2017.

Whilst a drop had been expected no one could have predicted such a massive decrease. 
The resultant effect will be a significant increase in respect of future losses in personal injury claims.

Whilst the government has imposed the change it has failed to provide amended Ogden tables to accompany the rate change. However, PI calculator has provided amended calculations to assist in the short term.

What does this change mean?

  • Claimants are likely to withdrawn part 36 offers.
  • Defendants are likely to try to accept part 36 offers before they are withdrawn.
  • JSM’s are likely to be postponed as Claimant’s seek to re-calculate and Defendant’s await the possibility of the discount rate being re-visited following potential judicial review.
  • There are likely to be arguments over the applicability of part 36 offers and whether they afford cost protection in the future.
  • Schedules and Counter-schedules will need to be re-drafted.
  • There may be arguments over the calculation of a -0.75 discount rate given that it is not as straight forward as averaging the rates for 0-.5% and -1%.
  • PPO’s are arguably redundant, as it would make little sense for a Claimant to choose a periodical payment when they could have a lump sum calculated on a negative discount rate.
  • Costs are likely to increase given that an increase in damages will make higher cost bills proportionate.
  • Insurance policies are likely to increase in cost to cover the additional financial liability.
  • What becomes of Table 27?

Does this impact on all future losses?

– It is unclear at present whether it applies to Roberts v Johnstone calculations for future accommodation costs. If it were to apply then this would lead to a negative outcome, which can’t have been intended given that the basis for altering the discount rate was to make future loss figures fairer for Claimants.


The imposition of a negative discount rate absent guidance will lead to uncertainty, increased costs and satellite litigation.

Come to our Chronic Pain Seminar

Chronic pain is a controversial presentation in PI claims. Claimants often seek damages for what are said to be life-changing conditions, which are not always wholly explained by established pathology and which Defendants and insurers frequently dispute. Issues as to vulnerability and causation cause further complication.

Pro-Vide Law, in association with Complete Counsel, are presenting an interactive seminar on chronic pain at 2pm on Friday 5th May at The Doubletree Hilton Hotel, 6 Sir Thomas Street, Liverpool.

We have a great line up of Speakers to include Dr Andreas Goebel – Associate Professor at the Liverpool Walton Centre and Assistant Professor for Pain medicine at The University of Liverpool, Dr Eric Ghadiali – Clinical Neuropsychologist, Professor Gus Baker – Emeritus Professor and Clinical Neuropsychologist, and Barristers Charles Feeny and Tom Goodhead from Complete Counsel.

The seminar will explain the various pathologies which can be implicated in a chronic pain disorder by reference to a fictional case and discuss the criteria for diagnosing such a disorder. The alternative possibilities of a factitious disorder or malingering will be explored.

The seminar will include an interactive “hot tubbing session” where the experts will present conflicting views as to credibility, diagnosis and prognosis.

The audience will be given the opportunity to raise issues and questions with the experts. Spaces are limited for this event. Tickets are £35.00 per person.

Registration – 2:00pm
Seminar – 2:15 – 4:30pm

Seminar followed by drinks and a chance to discuss the issues.

To book a place, please email claire.labio@completecounsel.co.uk

Come to our joint CIOT/STEP seminar with tax advice from Michael Sherry

Come to our free joint seminar on Monday March 20th 2017.

Venue: Brabners Solicitors Horton House, Exchange Flags Liverpool L2 3YL

Registration: 4.30pm
Seminar: 4.45pm – 5.45pm

We invite you to stay following the seminar and join us for drinks. RSVP to claire.labio@completecounsel.co.uk

Topics covered will include case studies on:

  • Non-domicile changes
  • IT/CGT – conditions A and B
  • IHT – previously domiciled residents
    – 15 year rule
    – Excluded property trusts
    – “Foreign owned”
  • Implementation
  • Pre-domicile planning? Now and in the future
  • Trusts – “protected” trusts
    – Other changes

Complete Counsel Announces Two New Additions

Complete Counsel, which launched in 2015, is an innovative digital based model which enables Barristers to practice as sole practitioners or from existing Chambers, but with appropriate support from experienced experts on a contractual basis.

Claire Labio, Practice Director commented ‘We are approaching our second anniversary and experience has so far shown that if a Barrister does engage and follow the guidance given they will see real growth in terms of practice and cash flow.

‘I was recently asked if Barristers using the service from outside of Liverpool were just ‘Door Tenants’. Traditionally Chambers accepted Barristers on to their door to enhance the offering visually whilst not really having much to do with the every day development of that Barristers practice. We do not use the term ‘Door Tenant’ specifically for that reason. Our Barristers receive one to one personal development whether they are full time or not.’

The two new additions are Tom Goodhead and James Byrne, both practitioners at 9 Gough Square in London. Tom and James were looking for a northern base to complement their southern practices in a way which would help them but would not conflict in relation to their primary tenancy. ‘Tom and James are experienced PI, Clinical Negligence and Product Liability specialists. They recognised that we could offer them solid links and exposure in the North which would in turn increase their practices’.