Steptoe & Johnson LLP has announced that Rob Kovacev, a former senior litigation counsel in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Tax Division, has joined the firm as a partner. Mr. Kovacev’s arrival continues the expansion of Steptoe’s Tax Group, which welcomed partner Bob Rizzi in October.
As senior litigation counsel in the DOJ’s Tax Division, Mr. Kovacev litigated high-profile civil tax cases and developed substantial trial experience. He was lead trial counsel in several complex tax cases involving cross-border transactions, Section 482 disputes, claims for research credits and foreign tax credits, corporate reorganizations and acquisitions, and valuation of pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property. The amounts at issue in each of these cases ranged from $10 million to more than $1 billion in claimed tax benefits. Mr. Kovacev was also lead counsel in several summons enforcement matters of the highest priority to the IRS.
While at the DOJ, Mr. Kovacev gained particular experience regarding the IRS’s use of the economic substance, substance over form, and sham partnership doctrines to disallow the tax benefits of transactions that comply with the technical requirements of the tax code. For example, Mr. Kovacev was lead trial counsel for the United States in AWG Leasing, involving a cross-border leveraged leasing transaction. The court in AWG Leasing disallowed over $100 million in tax benefits from that transaction, and sustained the IRS’s determination of penalties against the taxpayer. Mr. Kovacev was also on the trial team for the Southgate Master Fundcase, in which the court disallowed more than $1 billion in tax benefits arising from a distressed debt transaction based on the court’s interpretation of the sham partnership doctrine.
In welcoming Mr. Kovacev to Steptoe, firm Chair Roger Warin commented: “Our tax controversy practice has been a mainstay of our Tax Group for decades. Rob will help bolster the next generation of lead tax controversy partners with a smart, effective, well-credentialed tax litigator who has first-chair trial experience in significant cases.”
Steptoe’s Tax Controversy practice includes experienced litigators who have served as Justice Department trial and appellate attorneys, judicial law clerks, and Treasury officials. The practice combines trial-tested litigation skills with up-to-date substantive tax experience. Steptoe’s highly regarded tax group has earned top rankings and recommendations from the prestigious legal directories Chambers USA and The Legal 500, among other publications.
“Steptoe’s tax practice has a superb reputation, and I’m delighted to be a part of it,” said Mr. Kovacev. “As the IRS and DOJ Tax Division deploy tax shelter tools against transactions that are not generally considered abusive tax shelters, unwary taxpayers will be caught surprised. I look forward to using the experience I gained as a DOJ tax litigator to help taxpayers meet the challenges they will face in this new environment.”
Mr. Kovacev won several awards for his work at the DOJ Tax Division, including the John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation, the Tax Division’s Outstanding Attorney award (three times), and the Mitchell Rogovin Award, the IRS’s award for outstanding support to the Office of Chief Counsel.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Kovacev earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Columbia Law Review, a Kent Scholar and a Stone Scholar. He clerked for the Honorable M. Blane Michael on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and worked in private practice before joining the government in 2006.
Eversheds has appointed Deloitte Indirect Tax Litigation Director, Giles Salmond, as a partner in its London tax team. He will lead the VAT disputes and Indirect Taxes practice.
An indirect tax litigation specialist, Giles has represented a wide variety of companies across all sectors including multinationals and UK PLCs.
After being called to the Bar, Giles practised for 6 years at the Solicitor’s Office for HM Customs and Excise where he undertook complex prosecution work and latterly civil VAT and customs duty litigation, including many appearances before the VAT and Duties Tribunals. Giles then joined Garretts, the law firm associated with Andersen, before transitioning to Andersen and then Deloitte in 2002, where he became a Director in 2006.
A highly experienced litigator, Giles has a significant profile in the market having acted in a large number of cases both before the UK courts and tribunals and the European Court of Justice. His wealth of experience includes appearing as an advocate before the ECJ in a complex customs valuation case relating to the EU’s international agreements on trade (GATT and WTO).
Giles has been at the forefront of many landmark VAT cases, including acting for Condé Nast in the leading VAT case on time limits which established that the introduction of the three year cap in 1997 without transitional provisions was unlawful.
Giles has also been intrinsic in the mediation of tax disputes. He was involved in the first UK tax mediation and has since acted in a number of successful tax mediations.
Commenting on his appointment, David Jervis Head of tax said:
“Giles has developed a strong reputation in the market having acted for a wide range of clients across all sectors including consumer business, leisure and the financial services sector, having been involved in a number of high profile disputes with the tax authorities. We have recruited him to lead our VAT disputes practice at Eversheds.
“Giles’s appointment is a great addition to the team, to provide our UK and multinational clients with market leading expertise in complex VAT disputes.”
Giles Salmond commented:
“I look forward to joining Eversheds in the new year and working with the existing team to expand its capabilities and take on new mandates.”
Devereux Chambers has announced that Timothy Brennan QC has been elected to succeed Ingrid Simler QC as Head of Chambers. He takes up the position on Monday 21 October 2013.
Ingrid Simler QC steps down following her appointment to the High Court bench; she takes up that appointment on Monday 28 October 2013.
Timothy Brennan QC practises public and commercial litigation in the High Court and above and in statutory and domestic tribunals. His main areas of work are tax and other commercial litigation, judicial review and other public law litigation, employment and discrimination. He occasionally accepts instructions outside these fields.
He has particular familiarity with employment remuneration and is frequently engaged in litigation and advice concerning taxation of employment income, remuneration structures, bonuses, employment related securities, third party employment income, employment status, benefits and statutory rights.
He has appeared in a number of disciplinary cases concerning the behaviour of professionals in the fields of medicine, law and education.
Timothy Brennan is authorised to sit as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench Division, the Administrative Court and the Chancery Division. He sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court.
He has also been a part-time Judge of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
He is a contributing editor of ‘Harvey on Industrial Relations and Employment Law’ (LexisNexis).
He is experienced in a wide range of business, financial and employment matters, particularly those involving technical questions of statutory construction.
Recent notable cases include:
Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher  UKSC 41 (employment status, ‘sham’ substitution and ‘no obligation’ clauses, whether employee, worker, or independent contractor)
Yukos v Russia  STC 1988 (ECHR, tax fraud, Art 6, Art 1 Protocol 1)
R (Prudential plc) v Special Commissioner  EWCA Civ 1094 (statutory investigation powers; no legal professional privilege for accountants giving tax advice)
HM Revenue & Customs v Smallwood  EWCA Civ 778,  STC 2045 (tax avoidance through double tax treaties; place of effective management and the ‘Round the World Scheme’)
Brown, PC, the Texas-based boutique law firm with a nationwide US practice handling tax controversies and tax litigation, has announced the addition of experienced tax attorney Cynthia Cook as senior counsel.
Ms. Cook has special expertise representing clients in civil and criminal tax cases, IRS audits and appeals, and business and employment tax matters. With more than two decades of experience, she provides sophisticated and effective counsel for clients in matters before the U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. District Courts, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In addition to her law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law, Ms. Cook earned her Master of Laws in Taxation from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. She secured her undergraduate degree from Wichita State University..
“At Brown, PC, our experienced attorneys and veteran former IRS investigators and accountants take a team approach to high-level, high-stakes litigation involving civil and criminal tax matters,” says firm founder Lawrence Brown. “Cynthia’s extensive legal experience and specific tax expertise will make her a key member of our team.”
Founded in 1992, Brown, PC, represents clients in the most complex IRS audits and appeals, civil tax litigation, asset forfeiture actions, IRS criminal tax matters and IRS tax collection disputes. The firm’s clients include ultra-high-net-worth individuals and businesses located throughout the United States and around the world.
Devereux has announced that Head of Chambers, Ingrid Simler QC, has been appointed to the High Court bench. She has been assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division.
Acting Head of Chambers, Bruce Carr QC comments “We are very proud of and pleased for Ingrid. She has been a great friend and colleague of all of us for many years. We are delighted for her but at the same time will miss her presence and contribution to Chambers.”
Ingrid Simler QC is a leading silk, recognised for her expertise across a range of areas including Employment Law, Tax Litigation, Public and Administrative Law, and Human Rights. Her employment practice covers all aspects of employment law, from high value discrimination cases to injunctions restraining team moves. Ingrid has expertise in handling individual and corporate domicile and residence litigation for tax purposes, both for and against tax-payers. She has been involved in most (if not all) individual domicile and residence cases taken by HMRC over the last decade, and most recently appeared for HMRC in the Supreme Court in the landmark case concerning HMRC’s published guidance, IR20: Gaines-Cooper & Davies & James v HMRC  UKSC 47.
The Ministry of Justice announcement was as follows: “The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Miss Ingrid Ann Simler, Q.C., to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 28 October 2013 on the retitrement of Mr. Justice Henriques.
The Lord Chief Justice will assign Miss Simler to the Queen’s Bench Division.”
Devereux Chambers continues to expand its pool of specialist tax counsel with the arrival of Jolyon Maugham from 11 New Square. Jolyon has a predominantly litigation based practice in the fields of direct and indirect tax. He has particular expertise in employment taxation, ‘scheme’ transactions, intangible property, legitimate expectation, abuse of rights and film financing. Earlier this year he was appointed by the Attorney-General directly onto the “A” Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown. Jolyon’s recent cases include Patrick Degorce, Eclipse Film Partners and the £300m Icebreaker litigation in which he was unled.
Speaking about Jolyon Maugham’s arrival, Ingrid Simler QC, Head of Chambers, said, “We are very pleased that Jolyon is able to join us. He is a valuable addition to our established tax team and will add to what Chambers can offer in tax and other financial and commercial work.”
Commenting on his move Jolyon Maugham said “I am delighted to join Devereux. It is an excellent base from which to develop my practice, acting for both taxpayers and HMRC.”
Important recent cases include:
Vaccine Research Limited Partnership  UKFTT 73 (TC)
Patrick Degorce  UKFTT 178 (TC)
R (oao Cameron) v HMRC  EWHC 1174 (Admin)
Eclipse Film Partners No 35 LLP  UKFTT 270 TC
Halcyon  STC 1125 (CA)
Micro Fusion  STC 1541 (CA)
Lower Mill Estate  STC 636 (UT)
Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logsitics Limited v HMRC  STC 576
Proteus and Samarkand  UKFTT 610 (TC) (FTT)
Prudential v HMRC (CA)  STC 2459
Fleming  STC 324 (HL)
Jolyon recently appeared unled on behalf of the partners in the £300m Icebreakerlitigation.
Jolyon is a graduate of the University of Durham (LLB: European Legal Studies, First Class) and Birkbeck College, London (MA: Modern Literature, Distinction) and is a Queen Mother’s Scholar (Middle Temple). He is the Revenue Bar Association’s representative on the Bar Council and he sits on the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Committee.
Devereux Chambers undertakes major tax cases for and against HMRC. Recent examples include the headline Supreme Court cases of Gaines-Cooper v HMRC and Davis and James v HMRC; and in the Court of Appeal : Mertrux v HMRC and Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics Ltd v HMRC, as well as a series of successes concerning tax avoidance in the employment field. Members of Chambers advise and appear both for taxpayers and for the Crown, for foreign governments and for other regulatory authorities.
The Devereux tax team now looks like this:
King & Spalding has recruited Nathan E. Clukey as a partner in its tax practice to help expand the firm’s tax controversy and tax litigation practices. He will be resident in the Washington, D.C., office. Clukey had been a trial lawyer in the tax division of the U.S. Department of Justice since 2008.
At the Justice Department, Clukey tried an array of tax cases in federal district courts, serving as lead counsel in both jury and bench trials. He litigated several case tax shelter cases, including the first 743(f) distressed debt shelter case. He has prosecuted civil injunction actions nationwide, including the first-ever injunction suit referred by the large business and international division of the Internal Revenue Service. He also has extensive experience handling parallel civil and criminal proceedings as well as international tax investigations and litigation, with a focus on transfer-pricing tax actions.
“Nathan’s litigation experience and technical knowledge of the tax law give him a unique ability to serve clients in complex and demanding tax controversy contexts,” said Hap Shashy, leader of King & Spalding’s tax practice. “We are very lucky to have Nathan, and we welcome him to the firm.”
Clukey is a three-time recipient of the DOJ tax division’s outstanding attorney award and the recipient of IRS chief counsel’s Mitchell Rogovin award for outstanding support by the Department of Justice. He received a J.D. degree from Catholic University Columbus School of Law, an LL.M. degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Clukey is an adjunct professor in the master of laws in taxation program at Georgetown University Law Center.
Liesl Fichardt, BLP’s Head of Contentious Tax, has resigned and will be joining Clifford Chance in London.
Ms Fichardt has been with BLP since 2008 and prior to this was a tax partner at Dorsey & Whitney. She has extensive experience in tax litigation, negotiation with revenue authorities, and settlement of disputes.
She is dual qualified as a solicitor and solicitor-advocate in England and Wales, and previously acted as a High Court Judge in South Africa. She is also a certified mediator, accredited with the CEDR.