David Pett

   

Practice Overview


For over 20 years, David has been ranked as a ‘leading expert’ (or equivalent) in the Chambers and Legal 500 directories of law firms and was, in 2016, referred to as “the god-father” in the field of employee share schemes. In giving his judgment in Watson Wyatt v Maxwell Batley, Mr Justice Park said: “It was clear … that [David] is a careful and impressive practitioner in his field”. 

Practice areas

David has extensive experience of both direct and indirect taxes and of the related company, securities and trust laws. However, he is best known for his advice on the income tax, PAYE, National Insurance and capital gains tax aspects of employees’ and directors’ remuneration, incentives, and all aspects of employment-related securities and employee share plans, including devising and advising upon all forms of ‘growth share’ plans; ‘joint share ownership plans’ (which were first developed by David in 2001); tax-advantaged CSOP, EMI share option, SAYE-share option and Share Incentive Plans, as well as ‘partly-paid’ share schemes; arrangements for internationally-mobile employees; and all other forms of management and employee financial participation. He also advises on:


- private company share valuation for tax purposes,
- ‘employee ownership trusts’ (per the Finance Act 2014),
- employment status,
- the scope and application of the ‘disguised remuneration’ legislation,
- entrepreneurs’ relief from CGT,
- ‘transactions in securities’, share buy-backs, and the tax treatment of close companies,
- the inheritance tax aspects of employees’ trusts and share plans,
- protection of management interests on a company sale,
- company reorganisations; and
- professional negligence relating to tax matters.


As a ‘share plans lawyer’, David drafts all forms of employee trusts, both UK and non-UK resident, written under English trust laws, and advises on a range of commercial, corporate, trust law, as well as UK tax, issues arising from the operation of such trusts and the trusteeship of such trusts.

Much of his work involves drafting bespoke and precedent legal documentation (including many published precedents which now form the basis of industry-standard clauses and documents), as well as negotiating with HMRC in the settlement of tax and NIC disputes, establishing all forms of share incentive plans and employee trusts, and advising on the structuring and governance of employee-controlled companies, and management and employee buy-outs.

David also has an interest in the taxation of ‘high-growth’ companies and in government-sponsored tax-advantaged investment schemes, such as EIS, SEIS, EZTs and BPRAs.

David advises on employee buy-outs and on the establishment of, and transactions involving, Employee Ownership Trusts (introduced by the Finance Act 2014) and the structuring of employee-owned companies and has advised some of the UK’s largest employee-owned companies. He was closely involved in the structuring the ownership and governance of companies as ‘employee-owned companies’ or ‘companies with employee ownership’. He has for many years advised one of the UK’s most successful such companies. At the request of the (then) Dept. for Business, Innovation & Skills, David drafted the government’s ‘Model Documentation for a Company with Employee Ownership’.

David has presented a series of webinars, including for LexisNexis, and is widely known as a lecturer on the tax, trust and company law aspects of employee share ownership, remuneration and incentive plans, and he actively participates in a number of representational and lobbying groups in this field. He is a member of the Tax Committee of the Share Plan Lawyers’ Group.


Client profile

David is qualified to accept ‘direct/ public access clients’. These have included a broad range of companies including multi-nationals, fully- and AIM-listed, overseas-based as well as privately-owned, venture-capital backed and owner-managed businesses, individual entrepreneurs, as well as accountants, lawyers, professional trustees and other professional advisers. Much of his work has involved dealing personally with CEOs, FDs and NEDs of some of Britain's largest companies, including advising at meetings of directors and remuneration committees.


Expert witness

David acts as expert witness in contentious tax matters and has experience of giving evidence at trial.


Career

David qualified as a solicitor in 1980 and, after intensive training as a corporate tax lawyer at Clifford-Turner (as it then was), he moved to Pinsent & Co. in Birmingham where, having been appointed a full equity partner in 1985, he and Julian Tonks together developed what was, at one time, the largest team of tax lawyers in the UK. David and his colleagues left Pinsent Masons in 2009 to practice as Pett, Franklin & Co. LLP for 8 years until shortly before he was called to the Bar and joined Temple Tax Chambers in 2017. He was a member of the government-appointed working party responsible for the legislation governing EMI share options and Share Incentive Plans and, more recently, was a member of the share schemes working party of the Office of Tax Simplification.


Major publications

David is author and joint editor of “Employee Share Schemes” (the 2-volume loose-leaf textbook, pub. Thomson Reuters) and is author of a number of earlier works on share schemes and employee trusts including the original “Practical Guide to Employee Share Schemes”.


Other interests

David is an orchestral timpanist, having performed large-scale works in all the UK’s major concert halls and in France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Gibraltar.


He is Chair of the City of Birmingham Orchestral Endowment Fund and a trustee, and Chair of the Investment Committee, of the Development Fund supporting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was formerly a trustee of The Birmingham Science Museum


David was, for nine years, a public member of NetworkRail and, before privatisation, a member of the statutory consumer council for the railways.

For over 20 years, David has been ranked as a ‘leading expert’ (or equivalent) in the Chambers and Legal 500 directories of law firms and was, in 2016, referred to as “the god-father” in the field of employee share schemes. In giving his judgment in Watson Wyatt v Maxwell Batley, Mr Justice Park said: “It was clear … that [David] is a careful and impressive practitioner in his field”.