Denis Edwards was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) in 2002 and admitted to the Scottish Bar as an Advocate in 2012. Following a judicial assistantship in the Court of Appeal, he developed a strong practice in public law and EU law before focusing on tax, specialising in VAT, customs & excise duties and compliance.
Denis advises and represents both taxpayers and public authorities in a wide range of tax matters. He has substantial experience of tax litigation, including judicial reviews and appeals in both the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal. He has represented HMRC in both direct and indirect tax cases and is one of the Attorney General’s Panel of Counsel (B panel since 2021, previously C panel).
Denis taught law for 10 years before coming to the Bar during which time he co-authored a leading textbook on judicial review. He continues to offer training events in tax and related legal subjects and is also a teacher in several professional legal education programmes both in the UK and internationally.
Denis’s recent work includes:
- the Supreme Court appeal in Lothian NHS v. HMRC
- the Court of Appeal decision in Naghtyshineh v. HMRC on sideways loss relief for farmers
- representing HMRC in a third party notice judicial review
- advising a large multi-national on compliance with the new plastic packaging tax
- advising on the VAT implications of an employee reward voucher scheme
- advising liquidators on VAT liabilities in an insolvent group of companies
- advising public bodies on COS VAT recovery
- advising purchasers on multiple dwelling relief from SDLT
- advising a corporation on capital allowances for renovation of disused building
- advising overseas trusts and estates on inheritance tax liabilities in the UK
VAT [all areas including grouping, classification of supplies, public sector VAT, historic claims]
Customs Duties [customs & excise, post-Brexit FTAs, origin, classification & tariffs disputes]
EU Law [EU tax, free movement and non-discrimination, state aid, procurement]
Judicial review [e.g. HMRC powers, accelerated payment notices, retrospective assessments]
Enquiries and investigations [COP 8, COP 9, DOTAS non-notification, offshore assets]
Direct Taxes [income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, allowances, residence rules]
Environmental Taxes (landfill & plastic packaging tax)
Education, Professional Memberships and Appointments
LLB (Hons), Dip LP, University of Glasgow
LLM, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, Canada
Revenue Bar Association
VAT Practitioners Group
Bar European Group
Administrative Law Bar Association
Directories - Professional Recommendations
"Denis is excellent at bringing to life complex issues and explaining them in commercial and client terms. He is extremely well-regarded by the clients and he is a go-to for indirect tax support." - Legal500 2024
"Denis is an excellent Tax and VAT barrister, extremely pragmatic and able to articulate complex matters very clearly. He is extremely impressive in the level of knowledge and commercial expertise he is able to bring to his advice." - Legal500 2023
Chambers & Partners has ranked Denis in recent years. Comments have included:
"A measured and thorough advocate”
“Reasonable, affable and measured”
“He has an impressive range of legal knowledge and is able to reduce things down to a level that makes things look simple”.
Denis has appeared in several important tax cases decided by courts and tribunals at all levels. These include:
Naghshineh v. HMRC  STC 177 (sideways loss relief from income tax for farming losses; meaning of ‘reasonable expectation of profit’; use to be made of earlier Taxes Acts when interpreting current legislation).
Lothian Health Board v. HMRC  CSIH 14 (standard of proof for proving amounts of overpayments of VAT in breach of EU law; scope of the San Giorgio restitutionary principles; role of tribunals in determining overpayment amounts)
Coin-a-Drink Ltd v. HMRC  STC 1351 (whether repayments of overpaid VAT plus interest were subject to corporation tax given that the repayments were remedial; whether taxation of repayments complied with effectiveness principle)
Macaw Properties v. HMRC  STI 1465 (entitlement to deduct property renovation expenses from liability to pay value added tax; definition of ‘commercial purposes’ of expenses and ‘economic viability’ of project)
Huhtala v. HMRC  STC 2226 (whether claim for transport and mooring costs of a barge used as a home while writing a book were wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the taxpayer’s trade)
West Country Vending Service Ltd v. HMRC  STI 2544 (whether VAT was chargeable on food supplied on business premises from a vending machine on the assumption that it would be consumed there)
Future Components Ltd V. HMRC  UKFTT 101 (VAT repayment claim made in time because the 25 day period for HMRC to verify the claim not counted towards the time limit for repayment)
Harding v. HMRC  STC 3499 (exemption from capital gains tax for gains realised from loan notes with a currency conversion option; whether such loan notes ‘qualifying corporate bonds’)
Fleming & Conde Nast! v. Commissioners for Revenue & Customs  1 WLR 195 (House of Lords: representing taxpayer in a claim for repayment of overpaid VAT (sales tax); the case was described in the Financial Times as the leading VAT case of the decade)
In addition, Denis has appeared in these leading cases:
South Lanarkshire Council v. Coface SA  CSIH 15 (construction of commercial contracts; construction of performance bond guaranteeing compliance with environmental obligations)
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency v. Liquidators of Scottish Coal Limited (Court of Session, Inner House) (whether liquidators have the power to disclaim environmental licences and permits held by the insolvent company; whether there can be ‘ownerless land’ in Scotland; what EU environmental law requires of domestic law on insolvency)
Saint Prix v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 49; Case C-510/12 (representing the UK Government in the UK Supreme Court, defending a claim that a pregnant woman retains "worker status" in EU law for the purposes of article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and article 7 of Directive 2004/38/EC).
R (Payne and Cooper) v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  2 WLR 1 (representing UK Government in the UK Supreme Court in a claim concerning the implications for social security law of a person’s insolvency)
R (Rogerson) v. Ministry of Defence
Denis has published notes and articles in leading law journals including the Law Quarterly Review, the International & Comparative Law Quarterly and the American Journal of Comparative law. He is a regular contributor to the Tax Journal.
Clyde & Edwards, Judicial Review (2000)
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