David Southern QC

Call: 1982    Silk: 2014

Practice Overview

‘"His advice is always technically robust while also practical.’"-  Legal 500 2019

"Strikes the perfect balance between technicality and practicality." - Legal 500 2017

"Among the most sensible and approachable members of the tax Bar." - Legal 500 2017

Chambers and Partners 2015 – Indirect Tax: "He has an advisory and litigation practice concentrating on general direct and indirect tax issues, including those concerning VAT. He is a noted authority on tax as it relates to derivative contracts and loan relationships.

"He is a very well-known figure in the field, and a very entertaining advocate."

"He is very approachable and able to think outside the box" - Legal 500 2016

"A leading expert on the taxation of loan relationships" - Legal 500 2016

"A master of detail, and an excellent advocate with a measured and forensic style" - Legal 500 2014



MA, M.Phil, D.Phil (Oxford)
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (FTII)
Fellow of the Institute of Indirect Taxation (FIIT)
Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn
Treasurer of the Bar Council 2005-2007
Visiting Professor and Director of School of Tax Law, Queen Mary, University of London.
UK National Reporter at the 2006 International Fiscal Association Conference


David Southern is an “enormously personable” and “brave advocate who offers inventive analysis of a case.” (Chambers & Partners, 2011). He represented the tax payer in the House of Lord's in the case of Fleming (t/a Bodycraft) v R & C Comrs [2008] STC 324. This case has generated repayments for tax payers of £13.1 billion (to date), and was described by the Financial Times (19-20 January 2008) as the 'VAT case of the decade'.


More recently he successfully represented BAA in the company’s appeal to recover £5 million of VAT on takeover costs in the First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber). Tax at stake as a result of the case is £100-200 million.


He regularly appears in a wide range of Tax Tribunals and Courts up to and including the European Court of Justice. His advisory work covers most areas of business and personal tax and clients include leading corporates, prominent individuals and political parties.


David Southern was called to the Bar in 1982. He gained an thorough grounding of tax working for the Inland Revenue and later for Lloyds Bank before transferring to the Revenue Bar in 1997. This experience has given him a unique insight in to the approach of Government departments and the needs of commercial clients.

Corporate Tax

David Southern is the author of the leading text book Taxation of Loan Relationships and Derivative Contracts (9th edition due later in 2011). He advises on a wide range of bond issues and on the tax treatment of debt restructurings. He has extensive experience of company acquisitions and reorganisations. He appeared as leading counsel in the Court of Appeal in Harding v R & C Comrs [2008] STC 3499 on the classification of corporate bonds.


Drawing on his in depth knowledge of banking, David specialises in the VAT treatment of financial services. He also advises a number of National Charities on VAT issues and appeared in Crossroads Association v R & C Comrs TC/2009/14805 (First-tier Tribunal). He has extensive experience of VAT on commercial property transactions.


Personal Tax

David has broad experience of trust and estates and appeared in the last two High Court cases on the Settle Land Act 1925. He deals with all capital gains tax issues.


Capital Taxes and Stamp Duty Land Tax

David deals with inheritance tax planning and stamp duty land tax in relation to commercial property transactions.


Excise & Customs Duties

He has appeared in a large number of Excise Duty Cases and has had much success in recovering seized lorries.


Expert Witness

David acts as an expert witness and has given depositions in US proceedings.

Recent reported cases

Walapu v HM Revenue & Customs [2016] EWHC 658 (Admin)

De Silva and HMRC [2016] EWCA Civ 40

Nigel Rowe, AlecDavid Worrall & Others - and -The Commissioners For Hm Revenue & Customs [2015] EWHC 2293(ADMIN)

BAA Ltd v HMRC [2013] EWCA Civ 112

Weston v Revenue & Customs [2014] UKFTT 11 (TC)

Cowan v Revenue & Customs [2013] UKFTT 604 (TC)

KDM International Ltd v Revenue & Customs [2013] UKFTT 315 (TC)

Allchin v Revenue & Customs [2013] UKFTT 198 (TC)

Copthorn Holdings Ltd v Revenue & Customs [2013] UKFTT (TC)

BAA Ltd v HM Revenue & Customs [2013] EWCA Civ 112

R & C Comrs v Arachige [2011] STC 33

Astra-Zeneca Uk Ltd v R & C Comrs (Case C-40/09) (European Court)

BAA v R & C Comrs [2010] UKFTT 43 (TC) (First-Tier Tribunal)

Coll v R & C Comrs ([2009] SFTD 101 (First-Tier Tribunal)

Elizabeth Court (Bournemouth) Ltd v R & C Comrs [2009] STC 682 (High Court)

Harding v R & C Comrs [2008] STC 3499 (Court of Appeal)

Fleming (t/a Bodycraft) v R & C Comrs [2008] STC 324 (House of Lords)

Recent advisery experience

  • Corporation tax treatment of Fleming payments
  • Recovery of Fleming payments
  • Claims for compound interest
  • Debtor substitution
  • Party political funding
  • Deductibility of consultancy payments
  • Recovery of VAT by local authorities
  • VAT treatment of charities
  • Taxation of non-domiciliaries
  • Eurobond issues




Please click on the links below to view David Southern's recent articles:


Taxation of Loan Relationships and Derivative Contracts (10th edition due February 2017)


Fleming-claims and restitution” – Tax Journal 20 September 2010


"Accounting, certainty and tax" – Comment – Tax Journal 13 May 2011


The Green Paper and the future of VAT” – Tax Journal 30 September 2011


Current issues in VAT: ’a colossal engine of finance’” – Tax Journal 30 September 2011


Round-tripping and structured finance” - Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law November 2011


Analysis – Debt buy-back legislation” – Tax Journal 13 April 2012

For more information visit www.davidsouthern.co.uk