Jonathan Bremner QC

Called: 2005

QC: 2018

Jonathan Bremner QC

Jonathan specialises in tax. He has substantial experience of complex and high value litigation. His advisory practice has an emphasis on business and entrepreneurial tax issues.

Jonathan acts for clients from a wide range of industry sectors, including large multinationals, major listed companies, owner-managed businesses and high-net worth individuals, as well as local and central government.

Calm, incisive and forensic in his approach, Jonathan enjoys working collaboratively with clients, whether in large or small teams.

Jonathan is recommended in the major legal directories:

Chambers and Partners: “Boasts an impressive track record of acting in heavyweight litigation”, “Superb both in terms of technical analysis and as an advocate”;

Legal 500: Unruffled when arguing multi-billion pound points”.

Jonathan was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2018.  He was previously a member of the Attorney General’s “A” panel of Counsel (2016-18), was listed in Tax Journal’s “40 under 40” survey (2015) and was named Tax Junior of the Year by Chambers and Partners (2015).

  • Areas of practice

    Jonathan has a broad tax practice.  His recent focus has been on the following areas.

    International tax

    International tax issues (e.g. double taxation relief, permanent establishments, transfer pricing etc) form a substantial part of Jonathan’s practice. Examples include:

    • Royal Bank of Canada v HMRC (June 2019, FTT): appearing for HMRC in a substantial dispute concerning the tax treatment of profits relating to a North Sea oil field and the application of the immovable property article of the UK / Canada double tax treaty.
    • Irish Bank Resolution Corp v HMRC (May 2019, Upper Tribunal; also acted before the FTT) acting for HMRC resisting challenge to capital attribution adjustment in the banking sector based on the UK / Ireland double tax treaty and the nature of the separate enterprise principle.
    • Bloomberg Inc v HMRC [2018] UKFTT 205 (TC), [2018] SFTD 1079: appeared for HMRC successfully resisting claim for intangible fixed assets raising complex issues as to the interpretation of the business profits article of the US / UK double tax treaty.
    • Advising a well-known multinational in relation to a dispute concerning the interpretation of the business profits article of the UK / Germany double tax treaty.
    • Acting for a technology company in a complex transfer pricing dispute.
    • for AstraZeneca (with Graham Aaronson QC) in a substantial dispute concerning the UK transfer pricing and CFC rules (settled shortly before the substantive hearing, listed for 14 weeks).

    EU tax issues

    Jonathan has significant, wide-ranging experience of issues concerning the compatibility of the UK tax code with EU law, having acted in numerous cases in the CFC and Dividend GLO and the Franked Investment Income GLO (and related matters) since 2013.  Recent work includes:

    Business and corporate tax

    Jonathan frequently acts and advises in relation to a wide range of business and corporate tax issues.  Recent work has included:

    • Taxation of corporate debt, including: appearing for companies in the Smith & Nephew group before the Upper Tribunal in Smith & Nephew Overseas Ltd and others v HMRC [2018] UKUT 393 (TCC), [2019] STC 116, (taxation of foreign exchange losses); acting for a FTSE 250 company in a substantial dispute concerning the tax treatment of a group financing structure.
    • Appearing for HMRC before the Court of Appeal in Farnborough Airport Properties Company Ltd v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 118, [2019] STC 517 (successfully resisting claim for group relief following the appointment of administrative receiver).
    • Business structuring issues (e.g. advising a large FTSE 100 listed multinational as to deductibility and transfer pricing issues arising from a major business reorganisation).
    • Capital allowances (e.g. acting for HMRC in a substantial dispute concerning the availability of capital allowances in relation to the construction of a nuclear decommissioning centre: Urenco Chemplants Ltd v HMRC (December 2018, FTT); acting in a test case concerning the availability of business premises renovation allowances (London Luton Hotel BPRA Fund LLP v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 212 (TC); advising in relation to sampling issues in capital allowances claims).
    • Advising in relation to transfer pricing issues.
    • Advising in relation to company reconstructions (including clearance applications)
    • Deductibility of trading losses (e.g. Beacon v HMRC [2018] UKFTT 104 (TC), [2018] SFTD 846).
    • Acting for HMRC in challenges to ship leasing arrangements.
    • Partnership taxation (e.g. acting for the successful taxpayers in King v HMRC [2016] UKFTT 409 (TC), [2016] SFTD 1033).
    • Acting and advising in tax warranty and indemnity disputes.

    Employment tax

    Jonathan has substantial experience of advising on and acting in disputes concerning employment tax and employee remuneration.  Recent work has included:

    • Appearing before the Supreme Court in RFC (2012) PLC v HMRC [2017] UKSC 45, [2017] STC 1556 (the Rangers Football Club EBT litigation).
    • Acting in disputes concerning employee remuneration structures established by a wide variety of employers including a leading City metal trading company, hedge funds, and professional services firms.
    • Varied advisory work (frequently complex and high value) concerning the tax treatment of employee benefit trusts.
    • Appearing before the Upper Tribunal in a dispute concerning deductibility of share options granted to employees: HMRC v NCL Investments Ltd [2019] UKUT 111 (TCC).
    • Acting for an investment banker in a dispute concerning the tax treatment of a substantial compensation payment (settled).

    VAT

    Jonathan has extensive experience in VAT.  Recent work has included:

    • Appearing for the liquidators of MG Rover Group before the Court of Appeal in substantial litigation concerning the compatibility of the UK VAT grouping rules with EU law: Lloyds Banking Group and others v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 485, [2019] STC 1134 (VAT grouping).
    • Appearing before the Court of Appeal in Newey (trading as Ocean Finance) v HMRC [2018] EWCA Civ 791, [2018] STC 1054 (VAT: abuse of rights).
    • Appearing before the Upper Tribunal in LIFE Services Ltd v HMRC [2017] UKUT 484 (TCC), [2019] UKUT 2 (TCC), [2019] STC 419 (VAT: welfare exemption; on appeal to the Court of Appeal).
    • Appearing for the Upper Tribunal in St Andrew’s College Bradfield v HMRC [2016] UKUT 491 (TCC), [2017] STC 83 (VAT: sporting exemption).
    • Appearing before the Supreme Court in Airtours Holidays Transport Ltd v HMRC [2016] UKSC 21, [2016] STC 1509 (VAT: third party consideration).
    • Advising in relation to single/multiple supply and supply classification issues.
    •  Advising in relation to place of supply issues (including online businesses and electronically supplies services).
    • Advising in relation to input tax recovery and partial exemption issues.

    Other indirect taxes

    Jonathan regularly acts in cases involving duties.  Recent work has included:

    • Appearing before the FTT in Hannover Leasing v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 262 (TC) (SDLT: section 75A FA 2003).
    • Appearing before the Court of Appeal in Invicta Foods Ltd v HMRC [2018] EWCA Civ 2204 (customs duty).
    • Acting in a substantial ongoing dispute concerning landfill tax.
    • Advising casinos and online gaming providers on gaming duty and remote gaming duty issues.
  • Career
    • February 2018: QC
    • September 2016 – Appointed Junior Counsel to the Crown – “A” panel
    • March 2014 – Appointed Junior Counsel to the Crown – “B” panel
    • March 2011 – Appointed Junior Counsel to the Crown – “C” panel
    • Called: 2005 (Inner Temple)

    Tax Junior of the year (Chambers Bar Awards 2015; nominated 2017)
    Recommendations:
    Legal 500, Chambers and Partners
    Listed in Tax Journal’s “40 under 40” survey for 2015

  • Notable cases

    Supreme Court

    Prudential Assurance Co Ltd v HMRC [2018] UKSC 39, [2018] STC 1657 (with Graham Aaronson QC and Tom Beazley QC) (also acted in High Court and Court of Appeal) – corporate tax; EU law; remedies; test case in the CFC and Dividend GLO

    RFC (2012) PLC v HMRC [2017] UKSC 45, [2017] STC 1556 (employee benefit trusts) (with Andrew Thornhill QC) (also appeared before FTT and UT)

    Airtours Holidays Transport Ltd v HMRC [2016] STC 1509 (SC) (with David Scorey QC) (also acted in CA, UT and FTT) – VAT; input tax recovery; tripartite arrangements

     

    Court of Appeal

    Lloyds Banking Group PLC and others v HMRC (acting for MG Rover Group Ltd with Andrew Hitchmough QC) (January 2019; also acted in UT and FTT) – VAT; grouping

    Farnborough Airport Properties Company v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 118 (also acted in UT and FTT) – corporate tax; group relief

    Invicta Foods Ltd v HMRC [2018] EWCA Civ 2204 (also acted in UT and FTT) – customs duty

    HMRC v Newey (t/a Ocean Finance) [2018] EWCA Civ 791, [2018] STC 1054 (with Julian Ghosh QC) – VAT; abuse of rights (also acted before CJEU and UT)

    HMRC v Test Claimants in the Franked Investment Income Group Litigation [2016] EWCA Civ 1180, [2017] STC 696 (with Graham Aaronson QC and Tom Beazley QC) – corporate tax; EU law; remedies

    Leeds City Council v HMRC [2015] EWCA Civ 1293 (with Julian Ghosh QC) (also acted in UT) – VAT; limitation periods

    Isle of Wight Council v HMRC [2015] EWCA Civ 1303, [2016] STC 2152 (with Julian Ghosh QC) (also acted in UT and FTT) – VAT; special legal regime/distortion of competition

    Mehjoo v Harben Barker [2014] EWCA Civ 358, [2014] STC 1470 (also acted in High Court) (with Roger Stewart QC) – professional negligence

    Aspinalls Club Ltd v HMRC [2014] STC 602 (also acted in UT and FTT) (with Andrew Hitchmough QC) – gaming duty; banker’s profits

    HMRC v London Clubs Management Ltd [2012] STC 388 (also acted in UT) (with Andrew Hitchmough) – VAT; partial exemption

    Brunel Motor Co Ltd v HMRC [2009] STC 1146 (also acted in High Court, UTand FTT) (with David Milne QC) – VAT; credit notes

    Midlands Co-operative Society v HMRC [2008] STC 1803 (with Kevin Prosser QC) – VAT; assignment of s 80 claim

     

    High Court

    Six Continents Limited v HMRC [2016] EWHC 2426 (Ch) – corporate tax; EU law; remedies (also acted in related interim payment application: [2015] EWHC 2884 (Ch))

    Evonik Degussa UK Holdings Ltd v HMRC [2016] EWHC 86 (Ch) (with Graham Aaronson QC) – corporate tax; EU law; summary judgment

    The Prudential Assurance Company v HMRC [2015] EWHC 118 (Ch) – corporate tax; EU law; remedies; Mr Justice Henderson noted that: “Prudential was represented at the hearing by junior counsel alone, Mr Jonathan Bremner, who performed his task with conspicuous ability” (Judgment para 7).

    Test Claimants in the FII Group Litigation v HMRC – [2014] EWHC 4302 (Ch), [2015] STC 1471 (with Graham Aaronson QC and Tom Beazley QC) – corporate tax; EU law; remedies (and see also [2013] EWHC 3757 (Ch) (pleadings); [2015] EWHC 2883 (Ch) (costs))

    Kuoni Travel Ltd v Boyle [2013] EWHC 877 (QB) – claim under tax covenant

     

    Upper Tribunal

    LIFE Services v HMRC[2017] UKUT 484 (TCC), [2019] UKUT 2, [2019] STC 419 – VAT; welfare exemption

    Clavis Liberty Fund 1 LP v HMRC [2017] UKUT 418 (TCC), [2017] STC 2392 (with Andrew Thornhill QC) – income tax; tax avoidance (also acted in FTT)

    A-Dec Dental UK Ltd v HMRC [2017] UKUT 342 (TCC) – customs duty (also acted in FTT)

    The Brain Disorders Research Limited Partnership v HMRC [2017] UKUT 176 (TCC), [2017] STC 1170 – research and development allowances; loss relief; tax avoidance

    St Andrew’s College Bradfield v HMRC [2016] UKUT 491 (TCC), [2017] STC 83 – VAT, sporting exemption

    Manduca v HMRC [2015] UKUT 262 (TCC), [2015] STC 2002 – income tax; commission payment

    Market & Opinion Research International Ltd v HMRC [2015] UKUT 12 (TCC), [2015] STC1205 – costs

    Butlers Ship Stores v HMRC [2013] UKUT 564 (TCC), [2014] STC 732 (with Julian Ghosh QC) – excise duty; proportionality/legal certainty

    Enterprise Inns plc v HMRC [2012] UKUT 240 (TCC), [2012] STC 2313 (with Andrew Hitchmough) – VAT; attribution of consideration)

    JD Wetherspoon plc v HMRC [2012] UKUT 42 (TCC), [2012] STC 1450 (with Julian Ghosh QC) – CT; capital allowances

    HMRC v Moorbury Ltd [2010] UKUT 360 (TCC), [2010] STC 2715 (also acted in FTT) (with Andrew Hitchmough) – VAT; abuse of rights)

     

    First-tier Tribunal (or equivalent)

    HMRC v Newey (trading as Ocean Finance) (July 2019, FTT) (with Julian Ghosh QC) – VAT; abuse of rights

    Panayi v HMRC (April 2019, FTT) – capital gains tax; compatibility of exit charge on trusts with EU law

    LINPAC Group Holdings Ltd v HMRC (March 2019, FTT) – claims for cross-border group relief

    Beacon v HMRC [2018] UKFTT 104 (TC), [2018] SFTD 846 – income tax; trading losses

    Hannover Leasing v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 262 (TC) – SDLT; section 75A; tax avoidance

    Irish Bank Resolution Corp v HMRC [2017] UKFTT 702 (TC), [2017] SFTD 1135 (with David Milne QC) – corporate tax; permanent establishments; double taxation agreements (on appeal to the UT)

    King and others v HMRC [2016] UKFTT 409 (TC) – income tax; partnerships,

    Grindley and others v HMRC [2016] UKFTT 384 (TC) – procedure; strike out

    French Education Property Trust v HMRC [2015] UKFTT 620 (TC) – VAT; economic activity

    Gemsupa Ltd v HMRC [2015] UKFTT 97 (TC), [2015] SFTD 447 (with Julian Ghosh QC) – corporate tax; chargeable gains groups

    Goals Soccer Centres plc v HMRC [2012] UKFTT 576 (TC) (with Julian Ghosh QC) – VAT; supply classification

    Boyer Allan Investment Services Ltd v HMRC [2013] SFTD 73 (with Kevin Prosser QC) – CT; employee benefit trusts; prevailing practice

    Chain Telecommunications plc v HMRC [2012] UKFTT 330 (TC) – VAT; input tax recovery; third party consideration

    McLaughlin v HMRC [2012] SFTD 1003 (with Kevin Prosser QC) – capital gains tax

    Swallow v HMRC [2010] UKFTT 473 (TC) – related civil/criminal proceedings – tribunal procedure

    The British Association for Shooting and Conservation Ltd v HMRC [2010] SFTD 993 (with Andrew Hitchmough) – VAT; sporting exemption

    West Country Vending Ltd v HMRC [2010] UKFTT 124 (TC) (with Andrew Hitchmough) – VAT; zero rating

    Sempra Metals Ltd v HMRC [2008] STC (SCD) 1062 (with Andrew Thornhill QC) – CT/PAYE/NIC; employee bene􀂡t trusts

    Camden Motors Ltd v HMRC [2008] UKVAT V20674 (with Andrew Hitchmough) – VAT; partial exemption

    Barclays Bank Plc v HMRC [2008] UKVAT V20528 (with Andrew Hitchmough) – VAT; financial services exemption

     

    Court of Justice of the European Union

    Trustees of the P Panayi Accumulation & Maintenance Settlements (Case C-646/15) [2017] 1 STC 2495 – capital gains tax; appointment of non-resident trustees; exit charge; compatibility with EU law

    HMRC v Newey (trading as Ocean Finance) (Case C-653/11) [2013] STC 2432 (with Julian Ghosh QC) – VAT; abuse of rights

  • Other experience

    Before joining Chambers, Jonathan undertook twelve months’ pupillage at leading commercial set One Essex Court (2005/2006).

    Jonathan was a member of the Secretariat to the Study Group (led by Graham Aaronson QC) which reported in November 2011 on the potential enactment of a General Anti-Avoidance Rule for the UK tax code. The Study Group’s recommendations were accepted by the Chancellor in the March 2012 Budget and enacted in Finance Act 2013.

  • Memberships
    • Chancery Bar Association
    • Revenue Bar Association
    • VAT Practitioners Group
  • Education
    • Hertford College, University of Oxford – BA (First Class), BCL (Distinction)
    • University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas) – Certificat Supérieur de Droit Français (Mention Bien)
    • BPP Law School – Bar Vocational Course (Very Competent)
  • Languages
    • French (including legal French)
  • The Chambers Guide says...

    Tax: Corporate
    Ranking: New Silk

    Boasts an impressive track record of acting in heavyweight litigation. He is often instructed in major employee benefit trust cases and group litigations. He also advises in relation to reconstruction, transfer pricing and other matters.

    “Superb both in terms of technical analysis and as an advocate.” “He is thorough and quick, and he works well in a team.” (2019)

     

    “Brilliant – he is equally at home advising on a technical argument or in the courtroom.” “He has a wonderful calm manner which can lead the client or the judge through very complex facts and law with brevity and clarity.” (2018)

     

    “He is very, very bright. He is thoughtful, impressive, engaging and he shares things well. He always brings interesting things to the table.” (2017)

     

     

    Tax: Indirect
    Ranking: New Silk

     

    Enjoys a rapidly growing practice in the area of indirect tax with extensive experience representing taxpayers and the Revenue. He is often entrusted with complex VAT and customs cases, appearing before the FTT, the Upper Tribunal, the Supreme Court and the CJEU.

    “His technical ability is very strong, his client-handling skills are excellent and he is commercially focused.” (2019)

     

    “He is very bright, he works very hard and he is a nice chap to deal with.” “He is very able and has a low-key style of advocacy.” (2018)

     

    “He is very bright, able and personable.” “He’s very personable and certainly, in light of correspondence with him, he has an acute and forensic intelligence. He’s good on points of detail.” (2017)

  • The Legal 500 says...

    Tax: Corporate
    Ranking: 2018 Silk, Tier 1

     

    “Unruffled when arguing multi-billion pound points.” (2018)

     

    “Often instructed without a leader and perhaps an early candidate for silk.” (2017)

     

    “A go-to junior for heavy-duty cases with significant technical content.” (2016)

     

    Private Client: Personal Tax

    Ranking: 2018 Silk, Tier 1

     

    “He is unafraid to give firm advice.” (2018)

     

    Tax: VAT

    Ranking: 2018 Silk, Tier 1

     

    “He is extremely clever, has a deep knowledge and understanding of tax.” (2018)

     

    “One of the leading juniors at the Bar for high-stakes litigation.” (2017)

     

    “Thorough, versatile and hardworking.” (2016)

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