Ben Symons

Called 2011

Ben is an experienced litigator who enjoyed a successful career in Australia before settling in the UK.  He is regularly briefed on cases with strong finance elements such as:

  • property
  • employment
  • commercial
  • probate (contentious and non-contentious)
  • trust and estates
  • family-related financial remedies

Ben undertakes litigation and advises on all areas of taxation, and has a particular interest in:

  • all aspects of planning and litigation concerning inheritance tax
  • cross border taxation issues, especially concerning the UK and Australia, for both companies and individuals
  • transfer pricing
  • the taxation of trusts
  • tax advice related to securities lending/collateral management/securitisation/derivatives

He also regularly gives presentations on taxation, and most recently gave a talk to HMRC on transfer pricing and tax avoidance.

Ben spent 10 years as a taxation lawyer practising at Big 4 consulting firms and as an in-house tax lawyer at HSBC, JP Morgan, UBS and BlackRock.  He undertook tax due diligence and gave complex tax advice on numerous transactions ranging in size from £300 million to more than £1 billion.  He also advised on complex structured tax transactions and on the tax aspects of securities lending and collateral management transactions.

Notable cases

First Tier Tax Tribunal

  • One Motion Logistics Ltd v HMRC (in progress) – acting for the taxpayer in an appeal against two VAT surcharge penalty notices. Seeking to have the penalties reduced or eliminated on the basis that the penalty was disproportionate for a taxpayer with thin margins.
  • Taxpayer (anonymous) v HMRC (in progress) – extensive research and drafting of a skeleton argument to argue that a VAT claim of a taxpayer dating back to 2007 was still open and that the taxpayer was entitled to amend that original claim in 2017.
  • Taxpayer (anonymous) v HMRC – preparation of a technical note to the client and a statement of case for a mediation concerning a VAT dispute and whether the taxpayer was entitled to claim the margin scheme for the sale of second-hand jewellery that it was making.
  • Taxpayer (anonymous) v HMRC – preparation of an agreed statement of facts related to a complicated VAT dispute and whether;
    • Certain companies of a construction group were entitled to claim bad debt relief immediately for credit sales they had made where they had not retained title to the goods;
    • What the entitlement of companies that had joined the VAT group later (through acquisition) was to claim bad debt relief.

Advice

  • Anonymous client – Employee Share Scheme: extensive research and preparation of a complex advice to a client on whether they could appeal a decision of HMRC that they did not have “reasonable excuse” under paragraph 52 of Schedule 5 of Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (“ITEPA 2003”) for failing to notify HMRC of a grant of employee stock options within 92 days of their grant under paragraph 44 of Schedule 5 of ITEPA 2003. Included considering whether the solicitors advising the client could be sued for professional negligence.
  • Anonymous client – Inheritance Tax – advice and tax planning concerning an estate worth £3 million to minimise inheritance tax. Extensive research and written advice to confirm that the deceased was not domiciled or deemed domiciled in England, and therefore only her UK assets would be subject to inheritance tax.  Tax saving of over £800,000 achieved.
Qualifications

Called to the Bar of England and Wales (Lincoln’s Inn) – 2011

Called to the Bar of NSW – 2014

Education

Graduate Diploma in Economics, Birkbeck College, University of London

Masters in Taxation Law (Hons), University of Sydney

Bachelor of Commerce, University of New South Wales

Bachelor of Laws, University of New South Wales

Professional Membership

International Fiscal Association

Community work

Ben works as a career advisor at Fulham Boys School in London.  He was appointed to this position as part of the Lord Mayor’s London Enterprise Advisor Network.