Smaller Firms are Best Placed to Nurture Legal Talent
Law firms look set to expand their legal teams in the first half of 2019, with a particular focus on their disputes practices. Yet new research, recently shared in the Global Legal Post, suggests that there is a lack of skilled lawyers, legal secretaries and paralegals available in the market to meet this expanding demand. The research notes that large international firms are likely to struggle most with the increasing trend for leading individuals at all levels to move to smaller, often specialist, firms.
The draws of small firms for talented lawyers and business services employees include opportunities for greater work-life balance, diversity and flexible working. Smaller firms can also provide a stronger sense of community, creating an environment that lends itself to greater empathy and acceptance of individual circumstances and challenges. This friendlier and more open culture can also result in greater diversity across the workforce.
For trainees, associates and paralegals there are further benefits to choosing smaller firms. It is likely that they will perform more substantive legal tasks than those at their larger counterparts. This can result in a faster-paced learning environment. Associates may also have greater levels of client contact; at large law firms this is often the reserve of more senior lawyers.
Smaller outfits can also more easily promote accelerated career progression, as there are fewer layers of management and bureaucracy. It can also be easier to demonstrate worth and gain recognition; lawyers can more easily build an individual practice and move towards partnership. With all this in mind, it is unsurprising that many talented junior lawyers are opting to join smaller firms.
For partners there is the opportunity for increased influence over firm management, strategy and development. There is more tolerance and understanding of individual ways of working, and greater scope in the development of practices, in terms of direction, variation and growth, due to both the flexibility and the lack of client conflicts found at smaller firms.
Although this new research does not herald a step change in today’s global legal market, it indicates that many of those working in private practice are rightly thinking beyond firm size, profile and global footprint when choosing where to work.
An Assessment to Tax is never ‘stale’, but it might be out of date: HMRC v Tooth
This article briefly discusses the key points arising out of the decision of the UK Supreme Court in HMRC v Tooth  UKSC 17. The case considered (1) whether a discovery assessment could become “stale” and (2) the meaning of the phrase “deliberate inaccuracy”.
VATA 1994 s.47, Agency, Onward Supply Relief, & Double Taxation
On 12 July 2021, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber) (“FTT”) released its decision in Scanwell Logistics (UK) Limited v HMRC  UKFTT 261 (TC), rejecting the taxpayer’s claim for onward supply relief (“OSR”).
Whilst OSR is now limited, post-Brexit, to goods imported into Northern Ireland for onward supply to the EU, the FTT’s discussion of agency under section 47 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (“VATA”) is of broader interest.
The case serves as a reminder of the significant financial consequences that can result from errors in tax planning, as Scanwell was ultimately held liable for £5.7 million in unpaid import VAT despite the fact that the imported goods almost immediately left the UK (which, if properly planned, could have meant Scanwell was relieved from liability to import VAT).
Draft Finance Bill 2022—tax avoidance measures
Helen McGhee, senior associate at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, considers the draft Finance Bill 2022 clauses published on 20 July 2021 in relation to tax avoidance and recent updates to the tax avoidance regime.
Getting Closer: A Global Minimum Tax on Corporations
On 1 July 2021, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that countries representing over 90% of global GDP had agreed to a global minimum tax on corporations (“GMCT”). The GMCT seeks to put a floor on tax competition on corporate income through the introduction of a minimum corporate tax of at least 15%. Whilst certain elements give rise to positive expectations, some caveats should be noted. Much will depend on (1) the outcome of future political negotiations and (2) the detail of the drafting at international and national levels.
The DBKAG & K (CJEU) decision: an opportunity for investment funds?
On 17 June 2021, the European Court decided the joint cases K (C-58/20) and DBKAG (C-59/20) regarding whether the supply of certain services constituted the “management of special investment funds”, benefiting from the VAT exemption enshrined in Article 135(1)(g) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC.