Clyde & Co secures victory for top barrister in tax scheme claim by ex-footballers and law firm partners

Nearly £1m costs awarded as High Court claims by 123 high net worth individuals are 'dismissed in entirety' ahead of slated January trial
NITED KINGDOM, MANCHESTER - November 24th 2016: Wayne Rooney during the UEFA Europa League match Manchester United - Feyenoord

Wayne Rooney during a UEFA Europa League match kivnl; Shutterstock

Clyde & Co has successfully defended Jonathan Peacock KC and his insurer Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund against a claim brought by a group of 123 wealthy individuals including former England footballer Wayne Rooney and current and former Magic Circle law firm partners in a dispute over a film finance tax scheme.

Rooney and other high net worth individuals including former England and Manchester United teammate Wes Brown and ex-Tottenham Hotspur manager Juande Ramos filed around £50m in claims over their participation in a scheme designed to reduce their tax liabilities by investing in the UK film industry. 

When His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) decided the scheme was being abused and therefore ineligible for tax relief, the group looked to recoup their losses by pursuing Peacock, a tax barrister at 11 New Square, who had been retained by the scheme even though he did not advise the individuals bringing the claims.

Clyde & Co said it had successfully reached a settlement for Peacock and Bar Mutual, the terms of which included a dismissal of all claims in their entirety and a substantial payment to Peacock for costs, bringing the total payments towards his costs to £935,000. A five-week trial had originally been scheduled to commence in January.

Simon Lambeth, claims director at Bar Mutual, said: “The view of the Bar Mutual is that these claims should not have been brought against Mr Peacock KC. Where the Bar Mutual, with the assistance of its legal advisers, concludes that claims are unmeritorious, Bar Mutual will always support its members and robustly defend them to trial and judgment.”

The Clyde & Co team representing Peacock included disputes partner Richard Harrison, legal director Jonathan Lawrence and senior associate Edward Scandrett. They instructed Tom Adam KC and Emma Mockford of Brick Court Chambers.

The claimants were represented by a team from Stewarts comprising tax litigation partners Lee Ellis and David Pickstone and associate Adam Jacobs; they instructed Andrew Onslow KC and Dominic Kennelly of 3VB. The claims against Peacock were backed by a well-known litigation funder, Clyde & Co said.

The settlement came after a judgment in a similar film finance tax scheme claim – McClean & Others v Thornhill – which went to trial and was dismissed by the High Court. Those claims were also backed by the same litigation funder, according to Clyde & Co, and the claimants were again represented by Stewarts. 

The trial, which took place in November and December last year, proceeded by way of ten sample claimants’ claims. Brick Court's Adams also appeard in that case, this time instructed by Mayer Brown.

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