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KLegal, the law firm associated with accountants KPMG, is taking over a multi-million pound piece of litigation from Slaughter and May after hiring one of its lawyers.
Anthony Maton is joining KLegal as a director, the equivalent of salaried partner, and he is bringing with him work on an ongoing action for Airtours against Customs & Excise.
The case could go to the Court of Appeal and revolves around the repayment of millions of pounds of insurance premium tax that Airtours had to pay before the Government withdrew the tax in 1999.
Slaughters litigation partner Deborah Finkler had been the partner in charge of the litigation, but the whole caseload is moving with Maton.
KLegal intellectual property partner James Hodgson says: "I'm delighted that Airtours have entrusted us with such an important case that could possibly end up in the Court of Appeal or the European Court of Justice."
The case will go before the VAT and Duties Tribunal in early March.
Finkler says: "Anthony has really been leading [this litigation] for Slaughters and we agreed that the best thing for the client would be that Anthony should carry on. This is the first major piece of litigation we have done for them, and we feel this arrangement cements our relationship with Airtours rather than weakens it."
Maton is going to head the dispute resolution practice at KLegal. He specialises in commercial litigation with a particular focus on banking and electricity sectors.
KLegal is planning to develop a specialist dispute avoidance practice working closely with KPMG's legal risk management team.
Maton says: "We are interested on the dispute side in trying to get much more into dispute avoidance rather than just dispute resolution. What people don't do at the moment is go to the client and say, 'let's have a look at the way you operate and jiggle things around and make sure you are not going to get these problems'."
The Airtours case is KLegal's fourth major tax litigation case in a year. It won the other three in the High Court (The Lawyer, 20 November 2000). In one, it acted for First Choice Holidays on the opposition to an appeal regarding the VAT on discounts offered by travel agents.