Nikolaj concentrates his practice on tax controversy and international taxation. He is an experienced litigator and has appeared before the Supreme Court more than 15 times since 2000. He is ranked as a leading tax lawyer in Chambers; The Legal 500; Who´s Who Legal; Which Lawyer?; and Tax Directors Handbook, among others. During his career he has continuously published articles in both Danish and international tax journals, and he is correspondent to Tax Notes International; European Taxation; and BNA.
Describe your career to date.
I graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 1991 (LLM) and the Copenhagen Business School in 1996 (diploma in economics). Upon graduating in 1991 I spent five months with the EU Commission, after which I have continuously worked as a lawyer (partner) with some of the major Danish/Scandinavian law firms: Bech-Bruun (1992–2010); Hannes Snellman (2011–2013); and Plesner (2014–2016). In spring 2016, I founded – with my colleague of over 10 years, Bodil Tolstrup – Bjørnholm Law, a tax boutique firm focusing on tax controversy and international taxation.
How do you try to distinguish yourself and your practice?
I have a genuine interest in my clients, their businesses and challenges. I wish to have my hands on the file and be available for my clients. As a litigator, facts cannot be underestimated and the devil is always in the detail. With a diploma in economics (accounting and auditing), I am not afraid of figures or large spreadsheets. This is extremely helpful in, for example, transfer pricing cases. I try to be clear in my communication; I am not afraid to ask questions, and I try to give clear answers.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners who hope to one day be in your position?
You need to work hard, but do not forget to prioritise your loved ones. Get experience from abroad.
Has Brexit affected your practice in any way? How do you anticipate it will affect the European tax market in the next 12 months?
No, not yet – which, as I’m focused on tax litigation, is no surprise. In the longer run, Brexit will likely have an adverse impact with respect to mutual agreement procedures in transfer-pricing disputes, as the benefits afforded by the EU Arbitration Convention would no longer be available to UK businesses with activities in the EU, nor EU businesses with UK activities.
What advantages does being a boutique tax firm provide in the current legal market?
A tax boutique firm with a clear focus on tax controversy and international taxation has many advantages. Our focus and profile is crystal clear and easy to communicate. We are privileged that we can do what we are best at. Clients get more and more sophisticated with large in-house tax and legal functions. In litigation, the client is presented before the court by one individual. When a client seeks external advice in a tax controversy matter, the client is often looking for the best lawyer or lawyers and interviews these. With our unprecedented track record, clear focus and client approach, we believe we are well positioned in the legal market.
What is Bjørnholm Law’s top priority over the next 12 months to help it to stay ahead of the competition?
To continue our hands-on and facts-oriented approach; and to continue to develop our network and profile in tax journals and at tax conferences.
What do you foresee in the future for the corporate tax sector?
BEPS has and will continue to have great impact. I expect more transparency and focus on compliance. I also expect increased transfer-pricing disputes and MAPs.
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