George Rowell


George Rowell

Call 2004 (Lincoln Inn)
Qualifications MA (Oxon), Dip. Law (Distinction), MA in Law
Professional Memberships Hardwicke Scholar of Lincoln’s Inn; Junior Counsel to the Crown (Regional Panel), Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), Chancery Bar Association

Expertise


George has experience in a range of commercial disputes, including:

  • Corporate insolvency
  • Personal bankruptcy
  • Partnership disputes
  • Employees’ and directors’ restrictive covenants
  • Civil fraud and breach of trust
  • Contract
  • Professional negligence

George has particular expertise in commercial and chancery disputes with a tax dimension. He has a growing specialism in defending tax-payers and company directors against insolvency law actions brought by HMRC.

Recommendations

  • “George is a tenacious, confident and persuasive advocate who is quick on his feet.” Legal 500, Commercial, Banking and Insolvency (2016)
  • “George is able to advise on employment-related tax issues and restrictive covenants.” Legal 500 (2016)  

George has experience across the range of employment and discrimination work covered by Chambers, both at first instance and in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. He is regularly instructed by Central Government bodies, local authorities, private-sector employers and private clients. Areas of expertise include:

  • Discrimination
  • Constructive and unfair dismissal
  • TUPE transfers and insolvency
  • Working time
  • Unlawful deduction of wages
  • Redundancy
  • Whistle-blowing

George also deals with work-related matters in the civil courts, such as wrongful dismissal, bonus claims, restrictive covenants and partnership disputes.

Recommendations

  • “Recommended for employment-related tax disputes.” Legal 500, Employment  (2016)
  • “George has expertise in employees’ and directors’ restrictive covenants.” Legal 500, 2015 (Employment)

George specialises in professional negligence work, especially (but not exclusively) where there is a tax or financial dimension. Examples of his work include:

  • Solicitors – negligent tax-planning advice in respect of a will and lifetime discretionary trust
  • Solicitors – under-declaration of inheritance tax liability, resulting in penalties
  • Accountants – negligent conduct of a HMRC enquiry, resulting in £1.4 million in unnecessary tax and penalty liabilities
  • Accountants – failure to advise on VAT liability, resulting in a £400,000 assessment with penalties.
  • IFA – failure to give tax advice relating to pension arrangements
  • Surveyor – failure to advise as to obvious defects

Recommendations

  • “Recommended for tax and professional negligence matters.” Legal 500, Commercial, banking, insolvency and Chancery law (2016)
  • “George is a tenacious, confident and persuasive advocate who is quick on his feet.” Legal 500, Commercial, banking and insolvency (2016)  

George worked in-house for HM Customs & Excise and HM Revenue & Customs before moving to private practice. He regularly acts both for and against HMRC in Tax Tribunal appeals, as well as for private clients and businesses in the High Court and County Courts. He specialises in:

  • Inheritance tax and capital gains tax on behalf of private clients
  • VAT disputes involving businesses, charities and unincorporated associations
  • Tax penalties
  • Employment-related taxes involving businesses, directors and high-earning employees
  • Professional negligence involving tax, trust and financial issues

George is a regular speaker at seminars organised by local firms, law societies, CIOT branches, etc. George has published various articles in specialist journals and since 2013 has been a Consultant Editor of Simon’s Taxes, jointly responsible for rewriting the 71,000 word Penalties Division.

Examples of recent cases:

  • CGT: appeal concerning incorporation relief and £280,000 penalty.
  • CGT: advising owner of £3.5m property on main private residence relief.
  • Employee benefit trusts: advising PLC on dispute over tax relating to £2.7m offshore fund.
  • IHT: dispute over APR (identification of relevant holding and other issues).
  • IHT: dispute over agricultural occupation and other issues relating to APR.
  • IHT: dispute over ‘character appropriate’ test and other issues relating to APR.
  • IHT: dispute over business valuation for BPR purposes.
  • PAYE: appeal against £250,000 assessment imposed on director of insolvent company.
  • SDLT: advising on potential dispute and penalty relating to £5m development scheme.
  • VAT: dispute over entitlement to deduct input tax, leading to two-week trial.
  • VAT: MTIC fraud case with £3.4m at stake, leading to five-week trial (with leader).
  • VAT: dispute over entitlement to deduct input tax of £7.6m (with leader).

Recommendations

  • “George is highly recommended for his extensive experience of handling tax disputes, especially those involving VAT, PAYE and inheritance tax. George is frequently instructed on behalf of both taxpayers and HMRC. ‘He is an impressive and persuasive advocate who is quick on his feet.’ ” Chambers UK, Tax (2017) – Band 1
  • “Recommended for tax and professional negligence matters.” Legal 500, Commercial, banking, insolvency and Chancery law (2016)
  • “Draws praise from both clients and peers for the depth of his tax experience. George is particularly recognised for his work on tax penalties, inheritance and capital gains tax and employment-related tax issues. He has impressive sharpness of mind and good analytical skills, and is a man with abundant common sense. When you’ve got him you have no need to go to London.” Chambers UK, Tax (2016) – Band 1

George undertakes advocacy and advisory work for private clients. His principal areas of work are:

  • Co-ownership and trusts of land
  • Validity and construction of wills and settlements
  • Proprietary estoppel and constructive trusts
  • Administration of estates and trusts
  • Inheritance tax and capital gains tax issues relating to estates and trusts

Recommendations

  • “Draws praise from both clients and peers for the depth of his tax experience. George is particularly recognised for his work on tax penalties, inheritance and capital gains tax and employment-related tax issues. He has impressive sharpness of mind and good analytical skills, and is a man with abundant common sense. When you’ve got him you have no need to go to London.” Chambers UK, Tax (2016)

Practice Overview

George is a commercial and chancery barrister with particular expertise in tax disputes and professional negligence. He combines heavy-weight advocacy experience with in-depth tax and chancery knowledge. In the field of tax he regularly advises on VAT, IHT, CGT, employment-related taxes, and penalties. His professional negligence practice has a particular focus on claims against accountants, tax advisors and IFAs. He also acts in other commercial matters, especially (but not exclusively) where there is a tax dimension.

George has been a member of the Attorney-General’s Regional Panel of Counsel since 2008 and regularly appears for and against HMRC and other Government departments. He is a contributing editor of Simon’s Taxes.

George is qualified to undertake public access work in appropriate cases. For further information, please visit our Public Access page.

George has been recommended as a leading junior in Chambers UK and Legal 500. Quotations from the latest editions are as follows:

Chambers & Partners, 2017: Tax – Regional – Band One
“Highly recommended for his extensive experience of handling tax disputes, especially those involving VAT, PAYE and inheritance tax. George is frequently instructed on behalf of both taxpayers and HMRC. ‘He is an impressive and persuasive advocate who is quick on his feet.’ ”

Chambers & Partners, 2016: Tax – Regional – Band One
“Draws praise from both clients and peers for the depth of his tax experience. He is particularly recognised for his work on tax penalties, inheritance and capital gains tax and employment-related tax issues. Strengths: He has impressive sharpness of mind and good analytical skills, and is a man with abundant common sense. When you’ve got him you have no need to go to London.”

Legal 500, 2015-2016: Western Circuit – Commercial – Leading Junior
“A tenacious, confident and persuasive advocate who is quick on his feet.”

Legal 500, 2016-2017: Western Circuit – Commercial – Leading Junior
“Recommended for tax and professional negligence matters.”

Legal 500, 2016-2017: Western Circuit – Employment – Leading Junior
“Recommended for employment-related tax disputes.”

Background

George grew up in Cornwall. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and City University in London. He commenced his career in-house with HM Revenue and Customs. After a tenancy on the South Eastern Circuit, he returned to the West Country and joined St John’s Chambers in 2008.

Interests

Wine, golf, food, real ale, boating, independent travel, South Asian history, property renovation.