William Massey QC

Called: 1977

QC: 1996

William Massey QC

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 tax planning (including variations of trust under the Variation of Trusts Act).

Privacy Policy

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

  • Career

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

    QC 1996

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

    Member, Tax Committee, Historic Houses Association

  • Notable cases

    Professional Footballer’s Association (Enterprises) Ltd v C&E (House of Lords – VAT,  supply of trophy to winners at PFA awards dinner not chargeable to VAT); Caton’s Administrators v Couch (Court of Appeal – CGT, share valuation principles); Westmorland Motorway Services Ltd v C&E (Court of Appeal – VAT free meals to coach-drivers at service stations); Fallon v Fellows (High Court – CGT, ‘press release’ reconstruction not a true reconstruction so no reduction in base cost); Lloyds TSB (prs of Antrobus deceased) v IRC (Special Commissioners – IHT, Agricultural Property Relief on ‘farmhouse of a character appropriate’); Application to vary the undertaking of A and B (Special Commissioners – IHT, proposed alteration to conditional exemption undertakings ); Marquess of Hertford and others v IRC (Special Commissioners – IHT, Business Property Relief on whole value of historic house most of which was open to the public); McCall v HMRC (Northern Ireland Court of Appeal – IHT, whether Business Property Relief available on grazed farmland); Trustees of the Nelson Dance Family Settlement (High Court – IHT, Business Property Relief available on transfer of business asset); AC v DC & Ors (Financial Remedy: Effect of s. 37 Avoidance Order) (High Court – CGT, s.37 order avoids  transaction ab initio for CGT); V v T/A (High Court – variation of trust under VTA 1958 – measures appropriate to balance right to public hearing with right to privacy); Executors of Lord Howard of Henderskelfe v HMRC (Court of Appeal – CGT, sale of Reynolds ‘Portrait of Omai’ at Castle Howard eligible for CGT exemption as ‘plant’)

  • Publications

    Editorial Board – Simon’s Direct Tax Service

  • Memberships

    Revenue Bar Association

    Chancery Bar Association

    London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association

  • Education

    Hertford College, Oxford (MA (Jurisprudence))

  • The Chambers Guide says...

    Tax: Private Client
    Ranking: Star Individual

    “He is an incredibly safe pair of hands who is very reassuring. He is the most knowledgeable person around for landed estates work.” (2021)

    “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.” (2020)

    He is just brilliant at relating to families and he can get to the nub of the matter really quickly; he is excellent and has been a great resource.” “He has real gravitas, he’s very strong on Inheritance Tax, he’s very thoughtful and has a very rounded view.” (2019)

    Agriculture & Rural Affairs
    Ranking: Band 1

    “He is a go-to man on agricultural tax.” “He has a very attractive advocacy style and exudes quiet confidence.” (2021)

    “He’s a go-to person for advice on agricultural reliefs.” (2020)

    “Famously ‘the best in town’ when it comes to tax and landed estates.” “If you really want a good and reliable answer, he’s just excellent. He has fantastic written work: if you say ‘I’m going to consult William Massey,’ everyone sort of goes into hushed tones. He’s the gold standard, really.” (2019)

  • The Legal 500 says...

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

    ‘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. ’ (2022)

    ‘Is a superb UK inheritance tax silk.’ (2021)

    ‘Is the top UK inheritance tax barrister; you dread the day that he retires.’ (2020)



  • Chambers and Partners HNW says...

    Tax: Private Client

    Ranking: Star Individuals

    William Massey QC 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.” (2020)

    William Massey QC 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.” (2019)


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