William Massey KC

"William is absolutely at the top of his game. He gives very thoughtful, experienced and realistic advice. He is extremely client friendly."

Legal 500

"He is incisive, thorough and a real expert. He provides very clear and concise advice."

Chambers & Partners
  • Call: 1977
  • Silk: 1996


William Massey’s practice covers all areas of personal and corporate taxation, tax appeals and other tax related litigation. He is best known for his expertise in private client tax, particularly in estate tax planning, heritage property, conditional exemption, business and agricultural property reliefs, and trust and succession planning.

A large part of his trust and succession planning practice involves acting in Part 8 work in High Court applications under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958 (VTA), often involving the extension of a trust period and perpetuity period, applications under s.57 Trustee Act 1925, applications under s.48 Administration of Justice Act 1985, and rectification actions.

A copy of William Massey's privacy notice can be found here.


Inheritance tax

Recent work includes:

• The resolution of claims to APR and BPR in several contested cases,

• Advising on the tax implications of proposals relating to individuals, trusts and estates, often in the context of future succession planning, relating to land, chattels and other private property, each involving IHT (as well as CGT, Income tax and/or SDLT) issues

• Advising landowners on the interaction of the ELMS regime with APR, BPR and conditional exemption from IHT

• Advising on and steering succession planning for conditionally exempt land, houses and works of art

• Advising on the case-law principles applicable to the valuation of shares and the valuation of interests in land and chattels for IHT (and CGT) purposes

• Acting for the taxpayer trustees (leading Emma Chamberlain and Oliver Connolly) in Shelford v HMRC (2020) (the first appeal on IHT ‘home loan’ schemes)

Notable IHT cases:

•  Lloyds TSB Banking v IRC [2002] UKSPC 336 (the ‘Antrobus’ case, on Agricultural Property Relief (APR) for ‘character appropriate’ farmhouses)

• Marquess of Hertford v IRC [2005] WTLR 85 (confirming that the full value of a house, 70% of which was open to the public in the course of  a business, was eligible for Business Property Relief (BPR)),

• Trustees of Nelson Dance’s Settlement v HMRC [2009] EWHC 71 (Ch) in the High Court (confirming the ambit of Business Property Relief (BPR) on a gift of a business asset),

• McCall v HMRC [2009] NICA 12 in the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland (concerning the ambit of BPR in a conacre-grazing context),

• Shelford v HMRC [2020] UKFTT 53 (TC) in the FTT (first appeal on IHT ‘home loan’ schemes).

Capital gains tax

Recent work includes:

• Advising landowners in several cases on CGT (and income tax, IHT and SDLT) implications where the land is an element of a larger site that has development value

• Advising on the CGT implications of foreign exchange transactions and the effect of s.143 TCGA 1992

Notable CGT cases:

• Fallon v Fellows [2001] 74 T.C. 232 in the High Court (‘press release’ reconstruction not a true reconstruction so no reduction in CGT acquisition cost)

• AC v DC & Ors (Financial Remedy: Effect of s. 37 Avoidance Order) [2012] EWHC 2032 (Fam) in the High Court (confirming that a Court Order under s.37 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 avoids a transaction ab initio for CGT purposes

• Lord Howard of Henderskelfe’s Executors v HMRC [2014] EWCA Civ 278 in the Tribunals and Court of Appeal (establishing that the contents of a historic house exhibited to the public in the course of a house-opening business, whether or not owned by the trader using them, were within the CGT exemption for ‘plant’).

Stamp duty land tax

Recent work includes:

  • Advising on and drafting disclosure in SDLT return on a surrender and leaseback transaction concerning an AHA tenancy

Trusts & estates

Recent work includes:

• Acting for the claimant in proceedings to rectify a deed which would, in the absence of rectification, have resulted in a gift with reservation for IHT purposes

• Acting in forthcoming proceedings under VTA 1958

• Advising numerous trusts and estates on a variety of tax issues, both contentious and non-contentious

Notable cases:

Variation of Trusts Act 1958:

• V v T [2014] EWHC 3432 (Ch) (procedure where a VTA application is heard in public but reporting restrictions are appropriate so that beneficiaries are not identified).

• Allfrey v Allfrey [2015] EWHC 1717 (Ch), (extension of trust period and addition of further powers)

• DC v AC [2016] EWHC 477, (extension of trust period, confirming IHT analysis of extension of interest in possession settlement)

• Somerset v Fitzgerald [2019] EWHC 726 (Ch) (extension of trust period and change of governing code from Settled Land Act 1925 to Trusts of Land Act 1996)

Trustee Act 1957

• Gelber v Sunderland Foundation [2018] EWHC 2344 (Ch)


• Unreported case (2021) (rectification of deed made in 2008, which would, in the absence of rectification, have resulted in a gift with reservation for IHT purposes)


Directory quotes

The Chambers Guide

Tax: Private Client
Ranking: Star Individual

“He is the best silk for inheritance tax issues.”

“There’s nothing William Massey doesn’t know about private client tax. He is very approachable, collaborative and helpful.” “He provides very clear advice and is such a fount of knowledge in the private client tax world.”

“He is an incredibly safe pair of hands who is very reassuring. He is the most knowledgeable person around for landed estates work.”

“Very measured and very good with clients.” “He’s utterly reliable, superb with clients and commercial as well as technically excellent.” “William Massey really knows his stuff.”

Agriculture & Rural Affairs
Ranking: Band 1

“the leading expert on the tax aspects specific to landed estates and agricultural land.”

“He is incisive, thorough and a real expert.” “He provides very clear and concise advice.”

“He is a go-to man on agricultural tax.” “He has a very attractive advocacy style and exudes quiet confidence.”

“He’s a go-to person for advice on agricultural reliefs.”

The Legal 500

Private Client: Personal Tax
Ranking: Leading Silk, Tier 1

‘”William is absolutely at the top of his game. He gives very thoughtful, experienced and realistic advice. He is extremely client friendly.’”

“William has a huge amount of knowledge of the taxation of landed estates accumulated over very many years. He is lawyer and client friendly. His experience underpins his reassuring manner and presence, both in the conference room and in court. He is always a pleasure to work with and is collaborative in his approach.”

“a superb UK inheritance tax silk.”

“the top UK inheritance tax barrister; you dread the day that he retires.”

Chambers and Partners HNW

Tax: Private Client

Ranking: Star Individuals

William Massey KC is described by one source as “someone everyone looks up to – a real doyen of the private client world.” The source continues: “He is an incredibly safe pair of hands, very reassuring; and in his core area, which is landed estates work, he is the most knowledgeable person around.” Several interviewees praise Massey for his expertise on Inheritance Tax matters, especially regarding landed estates. One interviewee states: “There is literally no one at the Bar or a law firm with his knowledge of taxation of landed estates.” Another interviewee comments: “His strengths are his expertise on IHT, which is second to none, his ability to make complex issues understandable, his approachability and sense of humour.” 

William Massey KC is hugely well respected for Inheritance Tax matters, particularly concerning landed estates and heritage property. Fellow counsel says Massey is “very smooth and persuasive – it is a pleasure to listen to him. He’s very effective.” Another barrister describes him as being “well established as a high-calibre performer – top of the range.”

Chambers and Partners Global

Private Wealth: Tax

Ranking: Star Individuals

William Massey KC is a noted expert on inheritance tax, particularly Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief matters. “He is thorough, clear and looks at all angles. Judges, opponents and juniors like him.” “He is the best silk for inheritance tax issues.” “William has a wealth of experience and technical knowledge.”



Revenue Bar Association

Chancery Bar Association

London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association

Career & Education


Called 1977, Middle Temple, elected a Bencher (2004)

KC 1996

Governor, Harrow School (2000-2013) Summer Fields School (1996-2013)

Member, Tax Committee, Historic Houses Association


Hertford College, Oxford (MA (Jurisprudence))