Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers
The Legal Cheek View
When it comes to tax, Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers (GITC) is one of the top sets to turn to. Established in 1965, the small specialist set is made up of only 12 members, and is often viewed as outsmarting magic circle sets when it comes to tax law.
The 12 members at GITC act for both British taxpayers and HMRC in advisory and litigious capacities. Their expertise also extends to cross-border and international issues. While tax may not jump out to law students as the most exciting area of law, one junior tells us that it is in fact “endlessly fascinating”. Indeed, we are told that working in tax law is “like being paid to do crosswords and sudoku for a living”.
Given the reputation of the tenants at the set, the work that comes their way is often of very high value. As one member explains: “Having the best people brings in the best work.” Recent cases worked on by members at GITC include a massive group litigation in the High Court and the Court of Appeal on behalf of businesses and public authorities against Royal Mail for allegedly overcharging VAT for decades, and acting both for and against HMRC in a recent case concerning whether fundamental features of the UK corporation tax regime were compatible with EU law and the post-Brexit position.
What The Junior Barristers Say
Your journey to pupillage
I completed my first degree (economics) in the United States, a master’s and doctorate (legal history) at Oxford, and finally the law conversion course and BPTC in London. During my conversion course and BPTC studies, I undertook mini-pupillages with most of the leading commercial and commercial chancery sets and also won a mooting competition. I completed pupillage at a commercial set, after which I joined the tax department at Slaughter and May as a newly-qualified associate. I spent three years there, learning lots about tax but missing courtroom advocacy – it was my desire to do that which ultimately drew me back to the Bar and to GITC. That said, it’s important to add that no knowledge of tax is in the slightest bit necessary to get pupillage with us and most pupils are new to it.
The pupillage experience
Because I came to chambers from Slaughter and May, I don’t have personal experience of pupillage at GITC, but I asked another junior member of chambers who said he very much enjoyed pupillage with us and found it excellent training in both legal and practical matters. That training is particularly important because most law students do not study any tax law and chambers has no expectation that you will. Pupils regularly accompany their supervisors to court, from the First-tier Tax Tribunal right up to the Supreme Court and everywhere in between. There is typically lots of practice in opinion writing, drafting, and preparing skeletons, but the view of those who have done pupillage with us recently is that they felt prepared to start tenancy by the end of it – although, of course, there is always more to learn.