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Landwell, PriceWater-houseCoopers' tied law firm, has been appointed lead counsel on a £1.5bn case brought by foreign companies about UK taxation
A team led by partner Simon Whitehead was given the lead role at a case management meeting this month. Landwell is representing more than 50 per cent of the claimants involved in the case, which is under a group litigation order. This is the first time this type of order has ever been used in a commercial tax case. Ernst & Young-tied firm Tite & Lewis has the second highest number of claimants, with Andersen Legal, Baker & McKenzie, KLegal and Slaughter and May also involved. More than 500 companies are suing the Inland Revenue over the unfair application of Advanced Corporation Tax (ACT). The ACT provisions, which were repealed in 1998, treat the UK subsidiaries of foreign companies more harshly than companies with UK parents. Slaughter and May represented European Union company Hoechst in a fight before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the grounds that the tax provisions were a breach of EU treaty provisions on freedom of establishment. The ECJ ruled in Hoechst's favour and all the cases brought by European Union companies have been joined for a hearing before the UK courts in order to determine damages. Landwell is also leading the case for the non-EU companies. It intends to argue that the UK tax provisions contravene international conventions on double taxation. The hearings are expected to start at the end of this year.