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David Southern QC

David Southern QC has an extensive tax litigation and advisory practice in both direct taxes and VAT, including extensive experience of judicial review. 


He appears regularly in courts and tribunals at all levels, including the Magistrates’ Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union.


Before beginning independent practice at the Bar, he worked in the then Inland Revenue, conducting large scale litigations and enquires, and for Lloyds’ Bank, dealing with bank taxation, capital adequacy and corporate tax compliance.


He is the sole author of Taxation of Loan Relationships and Derivative Contracts (10th edition, 2017; supplement and 11th edition in preparation).  Since the first edition of 1997 (‘Taxation of Corporate Debt and Financial Instruments’), this has become the leading and indispensable textbook in this area.


His principal specialisation is in corporate finance.


Before being made a QC he was a member of the Attorney General’s Panel of Civil Counsel to the Crown.


He has undertaken extensive work for overseas tax authorities [China, Latvia, European Commission, Australia]


He is Director of the School of Tax Law and Visiting Professor at Queen Mary, University of London.


Areas of expertise

Corporate finance [company reconstructions, debt-equity swaps, debt issuance, derivatives]

Company taxation [interest deductions, loss relief, compliance]

VAT [grouping, takeovers and mergers, classification of supplies, financial services public sector VAT, historic VAT claims]

Judicial review [accelerated payment notices, loan charge, retrospective assessments]

Enquiries and investigations [COP 8, COP 9, DOTAS non-notification, offshore assets]

Pensions [pension transfers]


Recent advisory work

Tax treatment of release of corporate debt

Tax implications of modification of company pension schemes

Failure to notify under DOTAS

Public sector asset transfers

Effect of transfer pricing adjustments on UK tax liabilities

Debtor substitution

Employee benefits

Education, Professional Memberships and Appointments


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


Directories - Professional Recommendations

"He is always courteous and responsive." "His charismatic presentation style in court and expert analysis of technical VAT issues are his key strengths." - Chambers and Partners 2021: Tax: Indirect Tax


"Highly analytical. Draws on wide range of legal expertise. Quick to understand the underlying commercial and operational issues. Conclusions given are clear and decisive." - Legal 500 2021


"Not only an excellent advocate, also a sharp and entertaining sparring partner to exchange thoughts with." Legal 500 2020


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


"Strikes the perfect balance between technicality and practicality." "Among the most sensible and approachable members of the tax Bar." -  Legal 500 2017


"He is very approachable and able to think outside the box"A leading expert on the taxation of loan relationships" - Legal 500 2016


"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. - Chambers and Partners 2015 – Indirect Tax


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

Recent Cases


Milton Keynes Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v R & C Comrs (First-tier Tribunal)

Saint-Gobain Building Distribution Ltd v R & C Comrs (First-tier Tribunal)

Vaccine Research Limited Partnership  v C & E Comrs (First-tier Tribunal)

Brain Disorders Research LP v R & C Comrs (Court of Appeal) [2018] STC 2355

NHS Lothian Health Board v R & C Comrs (Upper Tribunal) [2018] STC 1745

R (on the application of Carlton) v R & C Comrs (Administrative Court) [2018] STC 589

R (on the application of Rowe) v   R & C Comrs  (Court of Appeal) [2018] STC 462

R (on the application of Graham) v R & C Comrs (Administrative Court)  [2017] STC 1

Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Health Board  v R & C Comrs, (Upper Tribunal) [2017] UKUT 19

R (on the application of Walapu) v R & C Comrs [2016] STC 1682

R (on the application of De Silva) v R & C Comrs (Court of Appeal) [2016] STC 1333

Copthorn Holdings Limited v R & C Comrs (No 2) [2016] SFTD 17

R (on the application of Rowe) [2015] EWHC 2293 (Admin)



Gore-Browne on Companies (all tax chapters)

‘Delegitimising legitimate expectations’, [2019] British Tax Review 126 - 138

‘The UK tax system:  from trust to transparency’, Tax Journal, Issue 1401, 1 June 2018, 7 - 9

‘Close company loans and participators’, Tax Journal, Issue 1341, 10 February 2017, pp12-14

‘FB 2016: Asymmetric notional finance charges’, Tax Journal, Issue 1304, 15 April 2016, pp15-17


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Our Members

Alun James
Michael Sherry
David Southern QC
Jonathan S. Schwarz
Tim Brown
Scott Redpath
Michael Collins
Philip Ridgway
Anne Redston
Stephen Arthur
Michael Quinlan
Keith M Gordon
Ximena Montes Manzano
Anne Fairpo
Lyndsey Frawley
David Pett
Michael Avient
Denis Edwards

Our Clerks

Claire James
Senior Clerk
Lucy Campbell
Deputy Senior Clerk
Cindy Green
First Junior Clerk
Kaylin O'Rourke
Junior Clerk

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