Hui Ling McCarthy QC

Called 2005

Silk 2018

Tax Junior of the Year – Chambers Bar Awards 2013 and 2017, nominated 2016

After reading Mathematics at Durham, Hui Ling began her career in corporate finance in 2001 at US investment bank Bear Stearns (fondly remembered) where she received a solid grounding in accounting, finance and the 100-hour working week. She was first attracted to the tax bar under the erroneous belief that it was all numbers and Perry Mason. Albeit wrong on both counts, she was nevertheless undeterred and has built a strong contentious and advisory practice appearing in many of the leading direct tax, VAT and SDLT cases in recent years.

Hui Ling has served with the Officer Training Corps of the Territorial Army for 3 years. She has also run the 151-mile Marathon des Sables, rafted through the Amazon and swum the Channel in a relay, all of which she describes as “fun”, though noticeably only after the event.

Hui Ling appears regularly in significant, high-value cases including:

  • representing the pension trustees in Equity Trust Singapore Ltd before the Court of Appeal involving tax and surcharges on £100m of funds under management. Lloyd L.J. described her submissions as “conspicuously able” [41];
  • acting for the 24 Claimants in Derrin Brother Properties in the High Court in relation to enquiries by the ATO with tax at stake of AUD 230m. Simler J. described her arguments as “admirable and forceful” [80];
  • securing what the Financial Times called “an important legal victory” for the government in the SDLT avoidance case, Vardy Properties; and
  • representing five lead case LLPs in the £300m Icebreaker litigation.

Hui Ling also advises a range of corporate and private clients in all areas of tax law with an emphasis on business / corporate taxation, VAT and SDLT. Recent corporate work includes advising on capital allowances, company reconstructions and issues concerning loan relationships and derivative contracts. Recent VAT work includes single/multiple supply and supply classification issues, partial exemption issues and Fleming claims. Recent private client work includes advising on tax issues concerning sportsmen, entertainers and event sponsors, partnerships, pensions, investments and remuneration.She has a particular interest in cases raising avoidance / abuse of rights, human rights or accounting issues as well as an interest in innovative tax dispute resolution processes, which led to her become chambers’ first CEDR accredited mediator in 2011.

Recommendations – Hui Ling is recommended in both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, where she receives particular acclaim for her skills in court:

Highly rated silk who specialises in VAT, corporate and business tax matters. She has represented clients at every level of the domestic courts and is well versed in the relationship between tax and human rights.
“She has an incredible insight and clarity of approach. An excellent advocate combining the attributes of eloquence and precision.” “Quick, clear-thinking and decisive.”
Recent work: Acted for the taxpayer in HMRC v Tager, a tax penalty case concerning the Upper Tribunal’s power to award penalties under Schedule 36 Finance Act 2008 – Chambers and Partners 2019 (Tax)

A highly praised new silk who is lauded for her dedication to tax matters. She is particularly well known for her expertise in complex, high-value VAT and stamp duty land tax matters. She regularly represents HMRC in some of its most significant indirect tax issues while also developing a taxpayer-side practice.
“Has boundless energy and ambition. She is excellent to work with and has good judgement.” “An articulate advocate who also provides sound commercial advice. Very approachable, intelligent, responsive and reliable.”
Recent work: Acted in Project Blue v HMRC, a case concerning the SDLT treatment of the MoD’s sale of Chelsea Barracks – Chambers and Partners 2019 (Indirect Tax)

All members of 11 New Square are noted as ‘of the highest quality’; a feature of chambers exemplified by Hui Ling McCarthy QC, who took silk in 2018 and has been involved in multiple stand-out cases, including Derry v HMRC… [and] Tesco v HMRC…, all of which concluded successfully for the taxpayer – Legal 500 2018

She is tenacious as an advocate and not afraid to push difficult points – Legal 500 2018 (Tax: Corporate)

A rising star of the tax Bar Legal 500 2018 (Tax: VAT)

Strengths: “Intellectually very sharp, quick to think on her feet in the court and very measured in analysing arguments.” “She is very thorough and also provides a super client service.”
Recent work: Acted for the taxpayers in the Icebreaker litigation
 – Chambers and Partners 2018 (Tax)

Strengths: “She is forensic in her attention to detail.” “She is thorough, responsive, constructive and provides a great client service.”
Recent work: Acted as junior counsel for the taxpayer in Tesco v HMRC, a case concerning the deduction of input tax on the Clubcard customer loyalty scheme
 – Chambers and Partners 2018 (Indirect Tax)

“Strategic and persuasive, with a rare ability to make the complex seem simple” and “Excellent drafting skills coupled with persuasive, measured advocacy” – Legal 500 2017 (Tax: Corporate (Band 1) and VAT (Band 1))

“Hui Ling McCarthy… is highly regarded for her expertise in corporate taxation and VAT matters” – Who’s Who Legal (UK Bar 2017)

Highly rated junior who specialises in VAT, corporate and business tax matters. She has represented clients at every level of the domestic courts.
Strengths: “Excellent, she’s just so bright and so on top of everything. She is really direct and cuts through all the issues”
 – Chambers and Partners 2017 (Tax)

A highly praised up-and-coming junior who is lauded for her dedication to tax matters. She is particularly well-known for her expertise in complex, high-value VAT and SDLT matters.
Strengths: “She’s diligent, eloquent, intelligent and fascinated by the subject.” “She’s a phenomenally perceptive junior”
 – Chambers and Partners 2017 (Indirect Tax)

She is an extraordinarily accomplished advocate” and “She can respond creatively to the developments in a case as they arise” – Legal 500 2016 (Leading junior – Tax: Corporate (Band 1) and VAT (Band 1))

Identified as a “Most Highly Regarded Leading Junior” for Corporate Tax: “From 11 New Square, Hui Ling McCarthy is a “phenomenal talent” whose “straightforward and practical advice” makes her “one of the most sought-after juniors at the tax bar today” – Who’s Who Legal (UK Bar 2016)

Boasts a flourishing reputation across multiple areas of taxation law and is particularly commended for her work on VAT, business and corporate tax cases. She has done notable work on cases involving tax avoidance and human rights issues.
Strengths: “Fantastic and very industrious, she moves things along well. She has a great intellect and a great personality.”
Recent work: Involved in the Icebreaker litigation, acting for the taxpayer 
– Chambers and Partners 2016 (Tax)

Combines excellent client handling skills with the ability to apply her knowledge to great effect” – Legal 500 2015 (Tax: Corporate and VAT; leading junior – VAT (Band 1))

Singled out as “Most highly regarded leading junior” for Corporate Tax: Hui Ling McCarthy has “the greatest appetite for work of anyone at the tax bar” where she specialises in VAT, business and corporate taxation. Peers call her a “stand-out junior” who “is certain to take silk” – Who’s Who Legal (UK Bar 2015)

Has a growing reputation, with regard to both her litigious and advisory work. Her workload covers both direct and indirect taxation.
Expertise: “She takes her litigation very seriously. A good, straightforward but fierce opponent in court.”
Recent work: She acted for the taxpayer in the significant Icebreaker litigation, where she appeared in the lead-case appeals before the First-tier Tribunal concerning income tax relief based on trading losses
 – Chambers and Partners 2015 (Tax)

She immediately grasps the essence of an argument and sees its strengths and weaknesses” – Legal 500 2014 (Tax: Corporate and VAT; leading junior – VAT)

Hui Ling McCarthy [h]as been involved in a series of high-value cases and earns acclaim as a talented and sophisticated tax advocate. She is active in both direct and indirect tax disputes.
Expertise: “She has an analytical mind and is always very well prepared.”
Recent work: She acted for the taxpayer in the high-profile Icebreaker litigation, involving five appeals to the First-tier Tribunal concerning the availability of partnership trading losses for sideways loss relief – 
Chambers and Partners 2014 (Tax)

Among the set’s highly regarded juniors… Hui Ling McCarthy is praised for her “excellent bedside manner” and “deep knowledge of the law” – Legal 500 2013 (Tax: Corporate and VAT; leading junior – VAT)

Clients were quick to praise Hui Ling McCarthy for her “intelligence, superb logical ability, articulacy, sheer hard work and charm.” She is well equipped to advise on a wide range of tax issues, and is well used to representing clients in court without a leader. She has recently been involved in some important cases concerning tax avoidance – Chambers and Partners 2013 (Tax)

“One of the more impressive junior members of the Revenue Bar… with an increasing presence in significant cases”, “Intellectually extremely good, with both deep and broad technical tax and procedural knowledge and excellent client management skills, especially in the speed with which she identifies the key logic in an argument”and “Painstaking, thorough, leaves no stone unturned and gives enormous confidence to the client” – Tax Journal 40 under 40 2011/12

Hui Ling McCarthy “leaves no stone unturned and is an excellent and clear advocate” – Legal 500 2012 (Tax: Corporate and VAT)

The highly rated Hui Ling McCarthy is held in excellent regard by clients, who praise her “ability to get round the academic element well and put points across in an effective and practical way.” She has a particular interest in tax avoidance and abuse as part of a broad practice that takes in VAT, capital gains tax and corporate taxation matters of many hues – Chambers and Partners 2012 (Tax)

The “tenacious, thorough and reliable” Hui Ling McCarthy garners praise for her VAT expertise – Legal 500 2011 (Tax: Corporate and VAT)

Sought after for her advocacy skills and “strong logical arguments”. She handles both direct and indirect taxation, with an emphasis on VAT and business and corporate taxation. She receives glowing praise for “coming up with complex technical arguments on the hoof” – Chambers and Partners 2011 (Tax)


Chambers Bar Awards Tax Junior of the Year: 2013 and 2017; nominated 2016

Legal 500 Tax Junior of the Year: nominated 2017

Shortlisted for the Chambers 100 UK Bar (Juniors) 2013

Shortlisted as a finalist for Young Practitioner of the Year – STEP Private Client Awards (2013/14)

Rising Star within Indirect Tax – Indirect Tax Awards (2012)

40 under 40 – Tax Journal (2011/12)

Shortlisted for Taxation’s Rising Star – Taxation Awards (2009)

Top 35 Under 35 – Private Client Practitioner (2009)


Former General Editor of Private Client Business (Sweet & Maxwell)

Contributor to VAT Commentary and Analysis (Sweet & Maxwell)

FA(No.2) 2017 Notes: Section 9: life insurance policies: recalculating gains on part surrenders etc [2017] BTR 527

UBS and DB Group Services: a departure from the conventional approach?[2016] BTR 257

Tribunal Fees – a tax on justice (Tax Adviser, Management of Taxes Voice, Issue 1, January 2016)

Breaking the Deadlock – Resolving SME Tax Disputes by ADR [2012] PCB 185

The Tax Treatment of Damages and Compensation [2012] PCB 117
HMRC v Mayes: SHIPS that Pass in the Night – Reconciling Mayes and Drummond [2011] BTR 279

Navigating the Finance Act 2007 Penalty Regime: Three Case Studies [2011] PCB 210

Remittances and Overseas Transfers [2009] PCB 397
Protected Cell Companies and TCGA 1992 s.13 [2009] PCB 316
It’s Good to Talk – resolving disputes via ADR (Taxation Magazine, April 2012)
Tax Penalties – Convention Compliant? (Tax Journal, April 2009)

VAT ‘Abuse of Rights’: Imposing Limits (Tax Journal, November 2008)

Abuse of Rights: The Effect of the Doctrine on VAT Planning [2007] BTR No. 2 160


Hui Ling has chaired or spoken at conferences organised by the CIOT, the ATT, STEP, the VPG, the Oxford Centre for Business Taxation, the International Fiscal Association and the Academy of European Law, amongst others. She is always happy to accept speaking invitations, including at internal firm training seminars.

Professional Memberships

Chairman of the CIOT’s Dispute Resolution and Litigation Group
CEDR Accredited Mediator
Association of Tax Technicians – Associate (ATT)
National Deputy Chairman of the VAT Practitioners’ Group
Member of the Revenue and Chancery Bar Associations

Legal Information

Hui Ling McCarthy has professional liability insurance provided by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Limited (of 90 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4ST) on a world-wide basis and subject to the terms of cover: see
VAT number: 887981441


Case C-28/16 MVM (written observations for UK) – VAT: deduction of input tax by holding company

Supreme Court

Derry [2019] UKSC (decision pending) (also acted in the CA [2017] EWCA Civ 435 and the UT [2015] UKUT 416 (TCC)) – whether carry back share loss relief claim “included in a return”.  Instructed by Greenwoods GRM.

Project Blue [2018] UKSC 30 (also acted in the CA [2016] EWCA Civ 485, the UT [2014] UKUT 564 (TCC) and FtT[2013] UKFTT 378 (TC)) – SDLT; application of s.75A FA 2003; alternative finance; art.14 and A1P1 ECHR.

Eclipse UKSC 2015/0102 – trading; application of  – Jones / Pendragon.  Instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

WHA [2013] UKSC 24 – VAT; input tax recovery; application of Redrow LMUK.  Instructed by Forbes Hall and Deloitte.

Privy Council

National Transport Authority v Mauritius Secondary Industry Ltd [2010] UKPC 31 – incidence of VAT; commercial property

Court of Appeal

Tager [2018] EWCA Civ 1727 (also acted in the UT [2015] UKUT 663 (TCC)) – Sch.36 para.50 penalties for failure to disclose.  Instructed by Withers.

Raftopoulou [2018] EWCA Civ 818 – whether s.118 TMA “reasonable excuse” can extend 4-year time limit for making claims

Telereal Trillium v Hewitt (VO) [2018] EWCA Civ 26 (also acted in the UT [2016] UKUT 258 (LC)) – rating; valuation of unoccupied office – on appeal to the Supreme Court

Degorce [2017] EWCA Civ 1427 – £20m loss relief claim from film business.  Instructed by Enyo Law.

Wiltonpark [2016] EWCA Civ 1294 (also acted in the UT [2015] UKUT 343 (TCC) and FtT [2014] UKFTT 115 (TC)) – VAT; finance exemption; meaning of “security for money”

ELS Group [2016] EWCA Civ 663 (also acted in the UT [2015] UKUT 48 (TCC)) – VAT; BB 10/04 agency treatment for employment bureaux; misdirection.  Instructed by Forbes Hall and Deloitte.

Derrin [2016] EWCA Civ 15 (also acted in the HCt [2014] EWHC 1152 (Admin)) – the legality of Sch.36 notices; whether there had been a breach of art.6 (fair trial) HRA 1998 – on appeal to the Supreme Court

BMC Properties v VO [2015] EWCA Civ 1306 (also acted in UT [2014] UKUT 0093 (LC)) – “effective date” of an alteration to the non-domestic rating list

Esporta [2014] EWCA Civ 155 (also acted in UT [2013] UKUT 173 (TCC) and FtT [2011] UKFTT 633 (TC)) – sports club membership fees; liability to VAT

Equity Trust (Singapore) [2012] EWCA Civ 192 (also acted in HC) – QROPS status.  Instructed by Squire Sanders.

Upper Tribunal

Tesco [2019] UKUT 0018 (TCC) (also acted in the FtT [2017] UKFTT 614 (TC)) – acted for Tesco in its successful £140m input tax recovery appeal; application of Redrow and LMUK.  Instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Merlin v VO [2018] UKUT (LC) (also acted in the VTE [2018] No. 343526937167/541N10) – business rates; whether the Smiler crash at Alton Towers gave rise to a material change in circumstances; guidance on remuneration of expert witnesses

Wetheralds [2018] UKUT 173 (TCC) – VAT; reduced rating for energy-saving materials

FortySeven Park Street [2018] UKUT 41 (TCC) (also acted in the FtT [2016] UKFTT 569 (TC)) – VAT; land exemption; hotel or similar establishment – on appeal to the Court of Appeal

Frosh and Joyce [2017] UKUT 320 (TCC) – SDLT avoidance

Languard & Macpherson [2017] UKUT 307 (TCC) – VAT; conversion of mixed use property and zero-rating

J3 [2017] UKUT 253 (TCC) – VAT; construction – meaning of alteration of existing building

Zombory-Moldovan (t/a Craft Carnival)[2016] UKUT 433 (TCC) (also acted in the FtT [2015] UKFTT 245 (TC)) – VAT; land exemption

Coinstar [2017] UKUT 256 (TCC) (also acted in the FtT [2016] UKFTT 610 (TC)) – VAT; coin-counting machines; finance exemption

Bastionspark [2016] UKUT 425 (TCC) – costs.  Instructed by Rosenblatt Solicitors.

Dyer [2016] UKUT 381 (TCC) – CGT; share valuation

Acornwood [2016] UKUT 361 (TCC) (also acted in the FtT [2014] UKFTT 416 (TC)) – lead case appeals in the Icebreaker litigation; partnership loss claims.  Instructed by Rosenblatt Solicitors.

Hills [2016] UKUT 189 (TCC) (also acted in FtT [2014] UKFTT 646 (TC)) – VAT; option to tax; sale of property from SIPP

Norseman Gold [2016] UKUT 69 (TCC) – VAT treatment of UK holding company making supplies of management services to overseas subsidiaries

Xerox [2015] UKUT 631 (TCC) (also acted in FtT) – Customs duties; classification of Xerox Solid Ink

Lobler [2015] UKUT 152 (TCC) – taxation of chargeable event gains on partial surrender of life policies; ECHR arguments; proportionality.  Representing the CIOT.

Dhanak [2014] UKUT 68 (TCC) (also acted in FtT) – availability of relief under s.392 ITEPA 2003; jurisdiction FtT.  Instructed by McKie & Co (Advisory Services).

Bosher [2014] UKUT 579 (TCC) (also acted in FtT) – CIS penalties; disproportionality

Leslie Smith [2011] UKUT B16 (TCC) – preparation of accounts not in accordance with GAAP; negligence

High Court

LO v Dannhauser [2018] EWHC 3162 (Admin) – Council Tax; the correct test for altering the list

R(oao) Ramdhun [2014] EWHC 946 (Admin) – meaning of “self-contained unit”

Telfer v Sakellarios [2013] EWHC 1556 (Comm) – liability to PAYE in the context of a claim for payment; “other payer”; tax presence.  Instructed by Davenport Lyons.

R (oao Tameside MBC) v Valuation Officer [2013] EWHC 450 (Admin) – correcting errors in non-domestic rating list

Equity Trust (Singapore) Limited [2010] EWHC 2996 (Ch) – use of CPR Part 8 procedure; jurisdiction.  Instructed by Squire Sanders.

Hammond v Coys of Kensington Ltd (ChD; Companies Court) – VAT; auctioneers’ margin scheme.  Instructed by Taylor Wessing.

First-tier Tribunal (or equivalent)
Direct Tax

Salinger [2016] UKFTT 667 (TC) – IHT and trusts; reversionary interest and excluded property rules

Paya Ltd and Anr [2016] UKFTT 660 (TC) – rights of a non-party to admit evidence.  Instructed by the BBC.

Rotberg [2014] UKFTT 657 (TC) – CGT on share sale; jurisdiction of FtT; legitimate expectation.  Instructed by BDO.

Wildin [2014] UKFTT 459 (TC) – valuation of goodwill for CGT

Kishore [2013] UKFTT 465 (TC) – income tax; single/separate trades; cessation of trade.  Instructed by Hill Dickinson.

Pepper [2013] UKFTT 654 (TC) – contract settlements; scope of FtT’s jurisdiction.

Trustees of David Zetland Settlement [2013] UKFTT 284 (TC) – IHT; availability of BPR.  Instructed by Squire Sanders.

Weiser [2012] UKFTT 501 (TC) – UK/Israel double tax treaty; meaning of “subject to tax”

Curran [2012] UKFTT 517 (TC) – interest relief; validity of settlement agreement

Crompton [2009] STC (SCD) 504 – income tax treatment of compensation payment

VAT and Duties

Safestore [2019] (decision pending) – VAT; application of insurance and insurance intermediation exemptions in the context of self-storage insurance supplies

Brown Group plc [2019] (decision pending) – VAT; partial exemption attribution and apportionment; marketing costs in the context of a business selling goods and offering finance

Target [2018] UKFTT 226 (TC) – VAT; application of finance exemption to loan administration services – on appeal to the Upper Tribunal

Inventive Tax Strategies [2017] UKFTT 667 (TC) – VAT treatment of fee refunds and credit notes – on appeal to the UT

Perenco [2015] UKFTT 65 (TC) – Fleming claim for recovery of input tax on share issue expenses

African Consolidated Resources [2014] UKFTT 580 (TC) – input tax recovery by UK holding company

Anna Scholz [2013] UKFTT 353 (TC) – Customs duties; eligibility of goods for samples relief

Jones [2012] UKFTT 503 (TC) – successfully argued for the taxpayer that the “use or disposal” of property was not restricted by s.106 agreement, securing an input tax repayment under the DIY Scheme.

Enersys [2010] UKFTT 20 (TC) – leading case on disproportionality of VAT surcharges.


Crest Nicholson [2017] UKFTT 134 (TC) – SDLT avoidance; distribution in specie scheme; HMRC’s determination and discovery powers

Allchin [2013] UKFTT 198 (TC) – application of s.45 FA 2003 to a novation

Vardy Properties [2012] UKFTT 564 (TC) – SDLT avoidance; distribution in specie scheme

Neiland [2011] EWLandRA 2011_0186 – Adjudicator to HMLR – effect of s.79(1) FA 2003

Business Rates

Wigan Football Company v Roberts (VO) [2018] No. 425026596935/134N10 – whether relegation from the Premier League gave rise to a material change in circumstances – on appeal to the Upper Tribunal

Pearl Group [2015] No. 054017371184/537N05 – relevance of a restrictive covenant to the determination of rateable value

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