Waqar Shah, Managing Associate, Mishcon de Reya LLP
What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am a Managing Associate (Solicitor) in the Tax Disputes & Investigations team at Mishcon de Reya LLP.
I regularly manage large-scale and interesting matters across all taxes, for large businesses and high-net-worth individuals respectively. This includes attempting to resolve matters before it gets to a hearing, via detailed submissions or via ADR. Where that is not possible, we also act for clients in Tribunal and Courts in the UK and Europe.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I have been at Mishcon for almost 6 years, having trained and qualified as a solicitor in a law firm within the Big Four. Given the amount of tax disputes which the Big Four were being conflicted out of, I thought it would be sensible to help grow a team in a law firm which had not previously been involved in tax disputes.
More importantly, Mishcon is seen as the market leader for dispute resolution of any kind so it was a natural fit.
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
The best part of my day is my regular catch up with my trainee to see how he or she is progressing during their six month seat in the Tax Disputes & Investigations team. It is a great opportunity for me to see how the trainee is developing and how the next generation of lawyers are getting to grips with the changing landscape of tax disputes.
The worst part of the day is some of the administration that comes with large scale cases; unfortunately the litigation process generally is not as efficient as it could be.
Any memorable cases or transactions?
A successful customs duty case for a well-known electronics company which settled a few weeks before the hearing (and so there is no written decision) springs to mind, as does working on Prudential's case relating to legal advice privilege in the Supreme Court (the first time that 7 justices sat on a UK Supreme Court case).
What advice would you give to junior associates early in their career?
For those embarking on any sort of tax career, it would be to never underestimate the importance of going back to the legislation when it comes to a certain area of law - from there, you can then look at the key cases. But the legislation is king and therefore, one needs to be as familiar with it as possible and not be daunted by the thickness of the yellow and orange tax legislation books.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Running a major car company's successful tax appeal to the Court of Justice in the European Union was a highlight; perhaps one of the last taxpayer victories from a UK court referral.
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