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“That’s one of the great things about this job. There’s always something new.” The words of HM Revenue & Customs general counsel Anthony Inglese.
He was talking about his new role as religion and beliefs champion at the department (see story), but the sentiment could equally apply to HMRC’s new partnership with Lovells on a major piece of tax litigation (see story).
It’s new because the government department has never outsourced an entire case to the private sector before (usually, government lawyers work alongside external lawyers).
Inglese will be keeping a close eye on the firm’s performance. He is viewing the case as a trial run, to see whether the private sector can handle certain complex cases in an efficient and cost effective manner.
For Lovells, it’s a serious coup - HMRC spends some £20m a year on external counsel pursuing those who do not pay their taxes.
For public sector lawyers, who sometimes have an uneasy relationship with their law firm colleagues, it will be seen as a litmus test for the viability of public private partnerships in law.
Will the pilot work out? Lovells, in the cockpit, will try and make it fly.