Tax Surgery with tax advice from Michael Sherry

Date: 7th February, 2017
Venue: Ground Floor, The Plaza
Registration: 4.00pm
Surgery: 4.15pm – 5.15pm followed by a small drinks reception

RSVP to by 26th January 2017

Topics covered will include case studies on:

  • Liquidations where shareholder involved in same/similar business subsequently
  • Property SPVs with distinct shareholders – purchase by one – risks to CGT treatment to others
  • Farming and loss relief where there is a profit in year 6 which is eliminated by capital allowances
  • Loans to participators
  • Applying FRS 102 to loans from participators which will not be called upon
  • Accelerated payment notice in respect of PAYE – whether and when deductible for CT
  • Dividends paid to non-resident shareholders – ITTOIA 2005 ss. 399, and 811
  • Corporate client of LLP – Profits within Patent Box

This should be of particular interest to experienced and senior practitioners. The intention of this surgery is to stimulate debate and allow those present to discuss and ask questions about matters which concern them. There is no charge for this event, however to stimulate debate numbers are limited and early booking is essential.

If there are any specific issues that you would like Michael to discuss please email me up to 48 hours prior to the event for submission.

A complete answer to a changing legal landscape?

Claire Labio of Complete Mediation was featured in the recent issue of Liverpool Law. View the article below or take a look at the complete issue here (Claire’s issue appears on page 21).

Reflections from SITGES


Mediation: Return of legal realism?

I found the course stimulating and challenging. It gave me a real insight into mediation as an overall psychological process, with the intention of enabling a resolution which was acceptable to the parties, as opposed to one begrudgingly accepted in conventional negotiation or imposed by a Judge. Having attended mediations as a practitioner, I had moved from my initial perception of mediation as a type of joint settlement meeting, bizarrely moderated by a chummy character with a packet of chocolate biscuits. However, the course gave me considerably more insight into the nature and value of mediation.

At a personal level, I have reflected on really how poorly in certain ways litigators and indeed the law addresses the process of dispute resolution in contemporary society. I was surprised to find that so many lawyers were still locked into stereotypical positional negotiation. Similarly, the law’s approach to significant issues might be seen to be arcane and backwards looking. Often the law can be seen as an existing corpus with little grasp of the real dynamics of a dispute in its contemporary context. In an earlier blog reflecting on the EL trigger litigation, “IEG v Zurich: Insurance Law for the Digital Age?”. We suggested,

“Reading the speeches of the Supreme Court in IEG v Zurich, it is striking how all the justices attempt to fit what can be perceived as an obviously fair and reasonable solution into the historic rubric of insurance law, even though such law developed in very different times and commercial practices.

The advantages of the digital age will only be fully exploited if it is understood that digital process is not a means of supporting a traditional approach, but rather a different approach in itself reflecting the need for much greater speed and flexibility in the exchange of information”.

There are interesting historic parallels here. Different structures and approaches have developed because of a perception of the inability of the existing processes and law to deliver satisfactory solutions in developing social and economic conditions.

An example close to home for me is the Liverpool Court of Passage, a court of voluntary jurisdiction which was established in Liverpool as the Port developed through the Industrial Revolution. The delays and arcane practices of the traditional courts were not consistent with the type of swift resolution necessary to serve the parties’ commercial interests. By way of contrast with Jarndyce v Jarndyce, the Liverpool Court of Passage in its prime prided itself in proceeding from incident (not issue of proceedings) to judgment in less than three months.

Similarly analogous is the development of legal realism in the United States of America, in particular through the jurisprudence of Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior and Professor Karl Llewellyn, a remarkable Professor of Law at the University of Yale. Comparable issues had arisen with the rapid development of the American economy in the late 19th, early 20th Century, and a perception that legal processes and the law were not able to deal adequately with the demands of rapidly growing commercial entities. The theory of legal realism is subject to different interpretations, but can perhaps best be described as focusing on how a Judge actually resolves a case, including the human, political and moral perspectives, as opposed to the traditional approach characterised as legal formalism. Legal formalism presupposes that a Judge reaches a decision based on a mechanistic application of the law to an objective process of factual finding. According to its proponents, legal realism attempted to define what Judges actually do, as opposed to what they say they do.

It could be argued that a similar position in the early 21st Century has arisen in the United Kingdom to that seen in the United States, when legal realism emerged. The legal system is arguably more conducted for the benefit of litigators and judges, rather than the litigants. It is not therefore surprising that mediation, with its emphasis on listening to the parties and identifying the issues which are important to them, is seen as increasingly attractive.

Legal realism is often characterised as a failure as legal formalism continued at least at a conventional or dogmatic level to be the accepted approach. However, this is perhaps to misunderstand the relevance of legal realism, which could never entirely replace a traditional approach, but acted as a perspective so as to challenge and modify the traditional approach. It is possible that the development of mediation and greater understanding of it will have a beneficial effect on more traditional forms of dispute resolution .


Will the BSB ABS bring Trial Lawyers to the UK?

Solicitors v barristers – the great ‘fusion’ debate

A conversation is taking place over lunch between a barrister and his wife’s friend, visiting from Italy. “You mean the person who serves the coffee?” scoffs the Italian with surprise. “No. A barrisTER!’ is the retort. “Well how is that different to a lawyer?”

This is an oft-cited, mundane conversation between English barristers and foreign laymen. It is a symptom of a rigid English legal system that has long distinguished between solicitors and barristers. In simple terms, the former prepares or conducts a case, while the latter argues that case in front of a judge, should it proceed to the courtroom. As a result, the concept of a ‘trial lawyer’, who deals with a case from its conception to its conclusion in court, has long eluded our antiquated English legal structure.

The debate about fusing the two sides of the profession is not a new one. One view is that fusion should be pursued as a way of reducing costs. Why should two fees be charged, one from a solicitor and one from a barrister? Fusion would avoid the waste that results from the duplication of work. It would mean providing one system of training for all aspiring lawyers, rather than the current dual-track entry system.

On the other hand, the independence of the Bar is of paramount importance. A barrister has an overriding duty to the court, and the cab-rank rule means that in theory at least, barristers are available to all those who seek their services. While solicitors are best viewed as businesses, barristers may still be regarded as guardians of the courts.

De-regulation – a different kind of fusion?

The parameters of the fusion debate have in recent years been shifted. Deregulation has opened the Bar to the world of powerful market forces. Barristers are no longer mysterious and immune gatekeepers of justice. They too are businesses. The fusion debate must now take into account the huge swing towards deregulating the legal profession that has taken place in the last 5 years.

Since October 2011, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has approved several hundred applications for alternative business structure (ABS) licenses. An ABS is a firm where non-lawyers can manage or own firms, widening the pool from which equity can be raised and diversifying the range of legal services that can be provided. ABSs can provide ‘one stop shops’, in that they are not limited in the services they can offer to the public.

Deregulation has opened up a world of possibilities for legal services on offer to the public. One example is the start-up ‘Casehub’. Founded by recent Cambridge law graduate Michael Green, this business model seeks to use the internet to unite people with common grievances, enabling class actions to be brought. The costs of litigation are financed by external investors, who invest in the prospect of being paid a portion of any final court award. 22,000 claimants were to challenge excessive penalty parking charges.

Other ABSs have seen investment from Dragons’ Den investor James Caan, while The Co-operative Group has also entered the legal fray. The emergence of savvy entrepreneurs onto the legal scene means the English legal system should brace itself for a colossus of fresh ideas.

As is often the case in the business world, equity investment encourages innovation, diversification and the pursuit of greater efficiency. Equity investors detest empire building. They promote lean, efficient and attractive operations. It is with this in mind that we return to the title of this piece; will the ABS bring trial lawyers to the UK?

ABS – fusion by the backdoor?

Rather than focusing on a rigid solicitor/barrister dichotomy, it appears the fusion debate has been swept aside by the wind of deregulation. It is predicted that trial lawyers, in the form of ABSs, will emerge as part of the drive for innovation and the quest for greater market share.

Trial lawyers will not emerge because of arbitrary, full-blown legal change. Nor will it necessarily be a conscious choice. Trial lawyers will be an incidental and natural result of the innovation resulting from the market pressures caused by deregulation.

In areas such as personal injury clients will begin to flock to ABS. The ability for a single entity to handle a case, to master its progression and to argue that case in court, all the while only accepting a single fee, will be too attractive a prospect to refuse. In this brave, market-driven world trial lawyers will take the form of barristers supported by paralegals and other support staff. Together, these entities will be able to do much of the work of a solicitor, such as helping to prepare witnesses for trial, as well as then arguing the case at trial.

As oppose to fitting a client’s needs around what the legal world is capable of offering, an ABS provides the requisite malleability to shape its service to suit the customer. By flipping the lawyer-client dynamic on its head, fusion will occur by the backdoor, because in many cases an ABS acting as a trial lawyer will the most appropriate structure required.

Further, ABS trial lawyers will be aided by the increased use of technology and the lack of a strict demarcation in staff-roles. New staff roles may emerge allowing one-stop ABS to cater to all clients’ needs. Casehub is merely one resourceful example of how technology can be fostered.

This organic, client-driven and innovative approach to fusion is less dangerous or dogmatic than any policy-driven arbitrary legal change. While the former marks a truly evolutionary progression, the latter would be to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.


Trial lawyers will not emerge as a result of any detached academic fusion debate. Rather, fusion is being pursued organically as a result of deregulation of the legal market. ABS will lead to ‘one stop shops’ moulded to serve a client’s needs. Often, this will mean requiring an ABS to act as a trial lawyer, providing a full service from the start of a case to its finish.

The substance of English law is one of the most flexible and attractive in the world. It is about time the structures of the English legal system were allowed to catch up. Deregulation is the catalyst through which to pursue organic reform.

Photos from our Complete Counsel Anniversary Event

Last week saw Complete Counsel celebrate our 1st anniversary at a hugely successful event in Liverpool.

Friends, clients and partners of Complete Counsel gathered at the roof-top terrace at West Africa House for drinks and food, where we were also proud to announce the launch of Complete Mediation.

Photos from the event can be seen below. Many thanks to all who attended and made the event such a great success.

BMA_7150 BMA_7129 BMA_7117 BMA_7060 BMA_6876 BMA_6790

Complete Mediation to offer creative mediation solutions to local economy

Complete Mediation will begin offering a mediation service from July 2016. Complete Mediation is a sister company to Complete Counsel, which is an innovative digitally based service providing focused and economic support for Barristers.

Complete Mediation will operate from Liverpool and is the first specialist mediation company in the city. However, it intends to provide mediation services on a national basis.

Read the full article here

Two new users for Complete Counsel

Complete Counsel grows to 6 with 2 new Barristers deciding to use the service.

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

Barristers using Complete Counsel can purchase a basic service, largely provided digitally, which encompasses diary and fee management at a low cost.

If they choose, Barristers can also obtain practice management, fee collection and financial management services on a personal basis at agreed rates.

These services are provided by experienced staff on an individual basis so as to maximise the Barrister’s practice and cash flow.

Michael Sherry, Head of Chambers at Temple Tax Chambers in London. Michael specialises in private client, tax planning, VAT and related areas. Michael, who is from Bolton, was looking for a northern base to complement his southern practice.

There is perceived to be a gap in the market in the provision of specialist tax counsel in the North West. Michael wants to develop a practice in the North, but in a way which is cost effective and will not create any conflict in relation to his continuing practice as Head of Chambers, Temple Tax Chambers.

Michelle Fanneran is an experienced Personal Injury, Costs and Clinical Negligence specialist, who had developed a substantial practice in the South West of England at KBG Chambers, Plymouth.

She has now relocated with her family back to her home county of Merseyside and following discussions with established Chambers in the area, she decided that Complete Counsel represented the best model to assist with the development of a practice in the North for her.

Claire Labio, practice director of Complete Counsel, said of these developments,

“We are conscious that Complete Counsel is a new model and that it will only work for individuals who understand how to use it effectively. A number of Barristers who have approached us still seem to want a traditional Chambers service and have a traditional Chambers mentality.

“We could not see such individuals engaging appropriately with our model. Our first year in operation has shown that if you do engage and follow the guidance given, which includes taking a significant degree of responsibility for your own practice development, you will see a real growth in terms of practice and cash flow.

We have had detailed discussions over a period of time with Michael and Michelle and believe they understand what is involved and will profit from using the services of Complete Counsel.”

In parallel to these developments, Complete Counsel will next month launch its mediation services, Complete Mediation, which will provide specialist personal injury and clinical negligence mediation with trained and experienced mediators, to include lawyers and medical experts.

For further information, please contact Claire Labio


In previous articles, we have suggested that the Digital City does not have any specific location, but rather is constituted by the connections which the internet facilitates. Against this background, where the citizens are located might be regarded as essentially happenstance, but digitally they are all citizens of the same entity.

However, personal interactions remain and individual locations have different cultural and social traditions. Therefore, whilst there is a Digital City, it has distinct neighbourhoods and those neighbourhoods have different characteristics.

Recent research has confounded many people’s perceptions with the realisation that Liverpool now has the biggest proportion of fast growth firms of anywhere in the United Kingdom, to include London. We suggest that this is because the city is so attuned to the development of the digital world.

Uniquely, certainly for the United Kingdom and perhaps in the world, the character of the city was formed by people in transit, rather than a longstanding indigenous population. Liverpool expanded from a small fishing village in the 18th Century to a major port in the 19th Century. The expansion brought many people of different ethnicities into to the city and this effect was exacerbated when the Port became a major exit point from the old world into the new world, in particular North America. The character of the city can be judged from a piece in the Liverpool Mercury in 1887 which described the city’s atmosphere without any resistance to the use of stereotypes,

“The streets of Liverpool during the emigrant season present stirring spectacles of cosmopolitan animation, and the city itself is the temporary resting place of visitors from all parts of the hemisphere. Russians, suspicious and sullen, … Finns and Poles, men of fierce and haughty natures, … Germans, quiet and inoffensive, brave and determined … the flaxen-haired Scandinavians, paragons of nature’s handiwork, erect and stately.”

This great Port went into massive decline with the end of the empire, the disappearance of the traditional industries of North West England and the ravages of war. By the 1980s, its ultimate demise was confidently predicted. Significantly, the city’s incredible renaissance in the 21st Century has been driven by a similar process to its original growth that is by people in transit. These people are now tourists and cultural visitors. Many will be descended from the economic migrants, although no doubt considerably wealthier and less given to stereotypical presentations.

The character formed and regenerated by this process is complex, involving openness with strangers and a willingness to assist them, an acceptance of change, a lack of concern over financial security, and a disrespect for status and authority. It is easy to see how Liverpudlians could seamlessly become citizens of the Digital City. Of course, this exciting growth has to be seen against the background of a low starting point by contrast with other cities, in particular London. Whilst the Digital City exists in London, in particular at Silicon Roundabout, it does not appear, certainly at a distance, that the digital industry is characterised by originality or creativity. Rather, as with large parts of London, it appears to be in the psychological and financial paw of the global corporations, with its energy directed principally towards enhancing their lavish profits.

We have already argued that the Digital City should be regarded as a rebel city. If it has different neighbourhoods like most cities, it may have its affluent but ultimately rather staid districts, but also its much more stimulating bohemian quarters.

Upcoming event: Cerebral Palsy & Brain Injury Cases – Ensuring you do the best for your client

Date & Time: 16/03/2016, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Foresight Centre, Liverpool

Complete Counsel in association with AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents), Atlantic Chambers and A Neat Legal Services will be organising a conference on 16th March 2016 that will discuss and analyse the key areas currently under the spotlight in Cerebral Palsy and Brain Injury Cases so that lawyers are aware of the challenges required to best represent their clients.

The conference will commence with an in-depth session on CP litigation analysis, involving medical experts and barristers including Charles Feeny and Ana Samuel from Complete Counsel. The discussion will then move on to cover intrapartum fetal distress and surveillance focusing on CTGs, neonatal risk factors for CP, paediatric neurology and neuroradiology and case management input and care. Tactical budgeting in CP litigation will also be examined. The conference will be chaired by John Benson QC from Atlantic Chambers.

To download the full conference programme and to book your place in the event, please visit AvMA website here.

Charles Feeny and Ana Samuel Published in The AvMA Legal and Medical Journal

A clinical risk article entitled “She should have died hereafter? When is death caused in law by breach of duty?” written by Charles Feeny and Ana Samuel has been published in the forthcoming issue of Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) Medical Journal. The article examines the law surrounding causation in situations when a death could be said to have been accelerated with particular reference to the case of Davies v Countess of Chester Hospital [2014] EWHC 4294 (QB). In doing so, the authors argued that there are two options available to the courts, one that is an arbitrary time limit and the second which focuses on materiality.

For further details please contact