George Rowell

Call 2004

"George is a really impressive barrister, his knowledge of law is incomparable, and he is never anything other than 100% impeccably prepared. Remarkably, he is also highly pragmatic and commercially-minded, which is very rare indeed in combination with such an academic mind, so he really offers the best of both worlds."

The Legal 500 2024
Photo of George Rowell


George has specialised in tax disputes throughout his time as a barrister. He ‘cut his teeth’ in-house with HM Customs & Excise and HM Revenue & Customs before moving to successful independent practice. Historically the majority of his tax instructions came from HMRC, but in recent years he has built a strong following amongst private-sector solicitors, accountants and tax advisors. Most of his tax work is now on behalf of businesses, directors, trustees and private clients.

George’s main areas of tax expertise are:

  • Capital gains tax
  • Employment-related taxes and employee benefit trusts;
  • Inheritance tax
  • Value added tax
  • Penalties
  • Tax avoidance schemes and APNs
  • Judicial review claims against HMRC
  • Tax-related professional negligence

George can provide advice and support at all stages of a tax dispute, from advising on merits and drafting persuasive letters to HMRC during an enquiry, to bringing and pursuing a tribunal appeal if necessary. He offers a ‘one-stop-shop’ service for solicitors, accountants and tax advisors who do not specialise in tax litigation. This provides a cost-effective solution where challenging HMRC might otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

George has been rated as a Leading Junior in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. Chambers & Partners says: “George provided detailed yet considered advice in relation to complex arrangements being scrutinised by HMRC” and “George was most approachable and worked with us in developing the strategy to defend the arrangements and seek settlement.”; Legal 500 says he is: “practical, pragmatic and puts clients at ease, excellent at tax and developing a specialism in professional negligence in tax-related cases.” (see Recommendations for details).

George is the joint author of Tax Penalties: A Practitioner’s Guide (Sweet & Maxwell, 2017, 781pp). He is also a contributing editor of Simon’s Taxes (LexisNexis), jointly responsible for rewriting the 70,000-word Penalties Division.

Tax Cases

  • VAT: civil fraud case with £3.4m at stake, leading to five-week trial (with leader).
  • Tax avoidance: Set of tax appeals arising from complex tax avoidance schemes used in 2001 to 2015 and 2007 in 2015.
  • VAT: appeal and judicial review challenging £1.4m output tax assessments raised against 200-member taxi drivers’ association.
  • VAT: dispute over entitlement to deduct input tax of £7.6m (with leader).
  • VAT: long-running appeal against assessments and penalties of £0.8m, with parallel professional negligence proceedings.
  • IHT: various disputes concerning APR and BPR in relation to agricultural and commercial property.
  • Tax avoidance: Appeal against £1m+ assessments raised by HMRC in relation to liquidation and proceedings against company directors arising from failure of a tax avoidance scheme.
  • CGT: advising owner of £3.5m property on principal private residence relief.
  • Customs duties: Appeal against £0.75m in customs duty and penalty assessments relating to allegedly wrong tariff classification in respect of imports of handbags and accessories.