Steve, who qualified with Slaughter and May in 1975, acts for clients across the full range of the firm’s tax practice.
Steve advises on the tax aspects of private and public mergers, acquisitions, disposals and joint ventures and on business and transaction structuring (including transfer pricing in all its aspects) more generally. He also advises many banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and others in the financial services sector in a wide range of areas.
What attracted you to a career in corporate tax?
The fact that I could see that it involved dealing with complex legal questions across lots of different areas of the law as you look for solutions to problems which will enable your clients to achieve their commercial aims. As my career has progressed, I’ve become more involved in tax policy – and thus the underlying economics and politics.
Describe your career to date.
I qualified at Slaughter and May 1975, became a partner in 1982 and have worked in corporate tax since qualification.
From your 40-plus years’ experience in private practice, what advice would you share with other practitioners who hope to one day be in your position?
Enjoy the job and get pleasure out of finding solutions to enable people to do what they want to do to achieve their commercial aims. Always remember that you are a service provider, so try to be clear in explaining issues and in giving advice as well as being available and responsive to your clients’ needs. Finally, be a good teacher and supporter to those following behind. You’ll then get all-round satisfaction.
How has your practice changed over the years to meet new challenges in the legal landscape?
Initially, I did a lot of asset finance work supporting inward investment (such as the Nissan plant in Sunderland). As we acquired more of a corporate advisory practice, my client base built up, both in the financial sector and structured finance area, but more generally with domestic and inbound multinationals. Since peace has broken out between HMRC and large business, I have been more involved in sorting out historical tax disputes and I’m currently doing a great deal of transfer-pricing work in connection with inward investment. I also get more and more involved in tax policy (on both sides of the Atlantic as well as with the OECD). Doing interesting work for nice people and helping to shape policy adds up to a nice package.
What do you foresee in the future for the corporate tax sector?
We will still have to do support work on complex transactions – in other areas there might be more of a shift to advice coming from lawyers rather than accountants as in-house teams continue to get stronger and look for more technical support or dispute resolution related advice.
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