Tax star Aaronson teams up with senior litigators for boutique launch

Top tax silk Graham Aaronson QC has joined forces with former One Essex Court barrister Joe Hage to launch a litigation boutique for ultra high value disputes.

Graham Aaronson
Graham Aaronson

The new outfit, Hage Aaronson, has already secured the addition of a trio of leading tax partners from Dorsey & Whitney for its tax litigation team. Partner Michael Anderson will lead the tax litigation group at the firm where he will be joined by partners Simon Whitehead and Paul Farmer (4 March 2013).

According to litigation sources the trio will take with them a caseload packed with restitution claims worth billions against HM Revenue & Customs. One well-placed source said: “Whitehead is a leader in GLOs [group litigation orders]. He is working on restitution claims that are worth billions to the economy and, if successful, could mean that we all end up paying more income tax.”

In addition the firm will be joined by arbitration partner Peter Griffin who, until 2007, was a partner with US firm Baker Botts. Most recently Griffin has advised property developer Patrick McKillen on his multi-million pound dispute with t he Barclay Borthers over the Maybourne Hotel Group, owner of Claridge’s (6 Ferbuary 2013).

The firm is also joined by former Debevoise & Plimpton senior associate Matthew Carey, who will join as a partner.

Aaronson, who was called in 1966 and took silk in 1982, plans to leave Pump Court Tax Chambers to join the firm as a partner when the Bar Council implements legislation that allows the move. In the meantime he will remain a founding member of the firm and a member of chambers.

The firm is the brainchild of Hage, who, having represented Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei in his 1998 legal battle with the Manoukian Brothers, quit the bar in the early 2000s to become full-time advisor to the prince. Hage parted company with Prince Jefri in 2004 when he took up a series of consultative roles advising big litigation spenders on how best to manage disputes. According to one source he has advised four of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs on litigation matters.

The new firm will target top-level work and plans to work closely with the bar, instructing advocates at an early stage to help clients resolve disputes. The firm also plans to forge links with the magic circle so it has access to the resources needed to manage mammoth cases.

Aaronson said the firm would style itself as an international litigation management firm where the emphasis was on resolving disputes effectively. The firm will offer strategic advice on multi-million pound, multi-jurisdictional claims as well as project management advice, as well as how to get the best settlements if that is an option.

He added that the firm would work across four key areas: tax litigation, general commercial disputes, arbitration and regulatory work.

“This is what’s needed by our clients,” Aaronson said. “We’ve seen it’s what is needed and we want to be able to deliver it.”

The firm has taken office space in Holborn and intends to move in in coming weeks. The boutique signed a 15-year lease for the seventh floor of 280 High Holborn.