Alistair Webster QC in landmark win for taxpayer in MTIC case

Alistair Webster QC, acting for the taxpayer in Pacific Computers Ltd v HMRC, has successfully challenged the refusal to pay a VAT input tax reclaim in an MTIC case.  The decision of the First Tier Tribunal is set out in very trenchant terms and is important for a number of reasons.

Alistair says:

Back“ HMRC’s case was conducted very aggressively and it followed HMRC’s standard argument that, where there was proved to be fraud in a supply chain, with back to back transactions, HMRC was entitled to deduct because the taxpayer must have known of the fraud – it was the only reasonable explanation for the trades.  This argument has succeeded before some tribunals, but here was exposed – and rightly so - as inadequate.  The tribunal was highly critical of HMRC’s approach, which it felt reflected a concentration on the overall chains and not upon the position of the individual taxpayer.

It is a decision which should give some encouragement to taxpayers innocently caught up in fraudulent chains and should give HMRC serious pause for thought and should encourage it to rethink its approach.

Taxpayers who are genuine traders have required some courage over the past few years to challenge HMRC’s refusals – it can be a costly and time consuming process.  This case demonstrates that, carefully analysed and properly presented – and concentrating upon the evidence rather than abstruse arguments –appropriate cases can be won – and well won.  Anyone who troubles to read the judgment will conclude that HMRC did not merely lose the case – it lost it comprehensively.

I was greatly assisted by the expert support of Pacific’s solicitor, Sally Hutchings, and Phillip Webb, whose joint expertise is enormous.”

If would like to instruct Alistair, or would like to know more, please contact the practice directors

Alistair Webster QC Reaction to Government Legal Aid Cuts


At the Lib Dem conference this morning ( 18th September ), the Conference overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion sharply critical of the government's plans savagely to cut legal aid.  Despite opposition from the minister, Lord McNally, the government proposals had little support.

The motion was substantially drafted by Alistair Webster Q.C. who is delighted by the outcome.  He says, " The proposals, although improved from the initial consultation, remain an existential threat to the provision of access to justice for those who need it.  They propose cuts which are simply not sustainable.  I hope that this will make the government think again.  LibDem MPs and Lords will need to make it clear to the government that it must fully take account of party policy."

A link to the motion and relevant material can be found on the Lib Dem Lawyers' website below. 

Alistair's speech can be found here


Former Finance Director at iSOFT provides feedback on Alistair Webster QC


Following the collapse of the FCA iSOFT prosecution, in which Alistair Webster Q.C. defended the former FD of the Footsie listed company, his client spoke of his views as to the experience which he, as a high achieving businessman, had gone through during the protracted proceedings.

"Facing a criminal trial is something none of us expect to happen and when it does, it is a devastating, emotional and frightening experience.“

“I was introduced to Alistair Webster in 2007 and from that moment, until I was found not guilty in July 2013, I had the advantage of, and was very much reliant on, Alistair's dedication, tactical and strategic wisdom, hard work and unceasing support for me and my case. His diligence in examining the papers, his instinct for identifying weak points in the Prosecution arguments and his judgment in knowing which points to make, and how and when to argue them was truly remarkable. His wealth of experience, and the success he achieved in my case against a very well financed FCA, speaks for itself but what I will remember most about working with Alistair is his warmth, and sense of humour which made an otherwise unbearable situation, very bearable.”

“When you select a barrister for your case, it is sometimes easy to overlook the human aspect of the case: the long hours spent with your barrister dealing with difficult issues. It's so much less stressful when you have absolute confidence in his skill and find that you are treated with empathy.  I can't stress enough how important this aspect of the case is.  To find a combination of the technical excellence and skilful advocacy of Alistair with the ability to make you feel at ease - and not just to be "the defendant" - is invaluable.”

“Finally, I would add, in 2011 my insurers removed my D&O insurance cover, which meant that I had to apply for legal aid and, consequently, Alistair had to complete my case on fee rates which were a fraction of what is appropriate for a barrister of his standing. It says a lot about Alistair, and his integrity, that I never once doubted that he would continue to support me, albeit at inappropriately low fee rates.  It would have been easy for him to walk away from the case, but he didn't - something for which I will be eternally grateful."

Alistair responds: "This is very flattering.  It was a hugely complex case and I was very well supported by my excellent junior and Pannones, John's solicitors.  The result - the FCA offering no evidence after two trials, was highly gratifying."