In a bid to take on the Big Six accountants on their own turf, Hammond Suddards has appointed two solicitors to create a VAT and indirect tax group, becoming one of the first law firms in the country with such a group.

The two are Nigel Gibbon, former head of the VAT and excise division of the firm's Manchester office, and VAT specialist Beverley Tanner from the same office.

Although they will be based in Hammond Suddards' Manchester office, they will advise clients on indirect tax matters throughout the country and will form part of the firm's tax unit.

Gibbon said: “When VAT came in, the Big Six accountants moved into providing advice on that sort of thing and have been maximising their fee-earning potential for at least 15 years. The lawyers didn't.

“But there is no reason why it should be solely the provenance of accountants. In fact if you consider the litigation issues that can arise out of tax disputes, you could say it should be much more the lawyers' area. Clients won't have to go to accountants for one bit of advice and solicitors for something else.”

Hammond Suddards is aiming to create a one-stop shop for clients, so that advice is on hand from experts on all issues from any office of the firm. It also wants to attract clients before they consider litigation.

Mark Simpson, the firm's head of tax, said: “Involvement with the whole of a client's tax planning enables us to maximise opportunities.”

Gibbon said the only other law firm he was aware of that had two indirect tax experts was Titmuss Sainer Dechert.