Windsor, United Kingdom
Having practised at the Bar from 1981-2000, I went into private practice including private family offices as their principal lawyer and MD of their family businesses. I also consulted to Macquarie Bank and RBS before setting up a Boutique tax planning business which expanded into Denning Legal as an ABS under the SRA in 2013.
My approach is to obtain the best result for my clients at all costs. I will only compromise when it is in the best interests of the client otherwise I will challenge any threat to my clients security of position.
I frequently engage with the larger firms including ‘magic circle’ firms who may be our opponents in some cases.
I have an in-depth knowledge of HMRC’s working practices and will advise clients as to the best approach with them in order to obtain the most favourable outcome.
My specialist area is property tax, trust law and advising clients offshore on HMRC latest developments and changes in legislation which may affect their tax liabilities, especially concerning their property portfolios and structures.
We have a proactive litigation department and will use this where we believe our clients are compromised.
HMRC mediation lawyer
In-House lead Counsel
Managing partner, COLP and COFA
1970 - 1975
1976 - 1979
1980 - 1981
1981 - 1981
By Dan Bindman
17th October, 2013
A multi-disciplinary tax planning firm with a barrister as its only lawyer, has entered into regulation with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in order to offer clients tax law advice within an alternative business structure (ABS).
Windsor-based Denning Legal Ltd’s ABS licence is effective from next week. The practice is thought to be the first tax specialist law firm ABS in the country.
The ABS, which offers inheritance tax and succession planning, and asset protection trusts, along with a range of private client legal services through the Bar’s direct access scheme, aims to recruit solicitors within the next 12 months, said its in-house barrister and head of legal practice, Aris Nicolson.
He said it has been in talks with Chinese clients for the past three months and hoped the ABS would help the firm service them. “They have adopted the American model, where they get their tax advice from lawyers and not accountants.”
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Prudential case not to extend legal professional privilege to non-lawyers had “put us as a law firm in a stronger position”, he said.
The business had just turned down an offer from a private investor, Mr Nicolson reported. “We would like to concentrate on building the practice up, on giving a specialised service in tax law and business development, rather than bringing in a business investor who just wants to capitalise on lawyers’ fees.”
He said the ABS would consider linking up with a financial adviser at some point. “An FCA-regulated body… would be a good partner for us because we would be able to offer their clients our legal services and at the same time offer our clients their financial services.”
The SRA was preferable as ABS regulator, said Mr Nicolson, because his own regulator, the BSB, although a “good body” was at the beginning of its ABS process. “We were very keen to be regulated by the SRA… which is of much stronger benefit because we can obviously hold clients’ money in our client account and we can be a little more robust in terms of offering the client comfort in the knowledge that we have got the SRA to answer to.”
His team currently consists of two former HMRC tax advisers, and his practice manager is an LPC student. Putting everyone on an equal footing within the ABS was “one reason” for the application, he explained.
Mr Nicolson is also the ABS’s head of finance and administration.
In June, Richmond Chambers became the first ABS that did not have a solicitor.
By Dan Atkinson
3 March, 2013
Pensioners who have been mis-sold asset-protection trusts on the false premise that it will spare them from having to sell their homes to pay for care may be able to take action under consumer-protection law.
The Office of Fair Trading said victims could get redress under the regulations, which state: ‘A misleading action occurs when a practice misleads through the information it contains, or its deceptive presentation, and causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a different decision.’
Dozens of people have come forward since Financial Mail exposed the mis-selling scandal last week, fearing that either they or their relatives have been victims of mis-selling.
A properly established trust set up years before a person needed care would shield assets from having to be sold to meet care fees, but those that were considered to be an attempt to shield assets would be set aside.
Last week Financial Mail reported how regulators are to take action against rogue advisers thought to have made millions of pounds by preying on the fears of the retired.
Whitehall guidelines and a tough new approach by local authorities mean that any ‘asset-protection trust’ that has been obviously established to spare people having to sell their home should they need long-term care will be disregarded.
Tens of thousands of older people have paid up to £10,000 to unscrupulous advisers, including lawyers and financial consultants, for a worthless piece of paper.
‘We are aware of the issue of mis-selling of asset protection trusts,’ said the Solicitors Regulation Authority. ‘If necessary, we will work with other regulators.’
Asset-protection trusts have been around for many years and have a legitimate role, in tandem with a will, in ensuring a person’s property is managed and disposed of in line with their wishes.
But with rising anxiety over the cost of care in old age, and the requirement that some people sell their homes to help pay for it, the trusts are being marketed as a way of shielding assets from local authority assessment officers.
‘Trusts have been mis-sold by many so-called providers by claiming it can save healthcare costs in old age,’ said Aris Nicolson, barrister with law firm Denning Legal, a reputable trust provider.
‘Sold as such, this is simply not true, as this would constitute a “deliberate deprivation of assets”.’
Nicolson added that a trust set up when the client is ‘fit and healthy’ and as part of lifetime planning could properly protect their property from being sold to meet care costs.
Janet Davies, joint managing director of care-fees planning company Symponia, said: ‘Trusts may be appropriate in some circumstances but these “asset-protection farms” are absolutely terrible. Local authorities are looking at trusts very closely.’
Governing body for solicitors in England and Wales.
The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) is a registered charity and the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT deals with all aspects of direct and indirect taxation.