Sarabjit Singh KC succeeds in tax case in the Court of Appeal - Dec 2022
Sarabjit (Sab) Singh KC specialises in tax, including the interface between tax and public law. He is ranked as a leading silk in tax by both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500, and has been described in those directories as “very persuasive”, “very insightful and can articulate complex concepts in an easy to digest way” and “a very able and compelling advocate”, whose “drafting is fantastic”, whose “technical skills and written submissions are excellent” and whose “performances in conference impress”. Sab also specialises in public law in its own right, and frequently appears in public law and tax cases in the highest courts, including regular appearances in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
Prior to becoming a silk, Sab was appointed to each of the Attorney General’s A, B and C panels, and it was through his work on the panels that Sab represented government departments and others in the most complex and high-profile cases in his areas of practice. His excellence in advocacy in the higher courts was recognised by his appointment as Queen’s Counsel in 2018, whilst still in his thirties.
Sab has appeared in some of the most heavyweight cases in tax and public law in the last few decades, as outlined in the description of his practice in each of those areas below, and he continues to act in high-profile tax and public law matters.
Unusually for someone who specialises in tax and public law, Sab also practises in clinical negligence and personal injury, and as a silk has acted in a number of catastrophic birth injury and other cases. He is valued for his careful and high-quality pleadings and advocacy, as well as his tactful manner with clients.
Outside of his practice, Sab is heavily involved in work promoting access to the Bar and retention in the profession of those from underrepresented groups. Being from an underrepresented group himself, he feels strongly that barriers to access should be broken down, and encourages those from working class and state school backgrounds to see the Bar as an option for them. He is also a member of the Bar Council’s Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility Committee, with a particular interest in ensuring the fair allocation of publicly funded work.Tax
Sab accepts instructions from taxpayers and HMRC and has acted in numerous landmark cases over the last few years. These include successfully representing HMRC in the British Film Institute litigation on the VAT cultural exemption that went to the European Court of Justice, appearing as sole counsel in the Amoena appeal which is the only ever customs case to have gone to the House of Lords or Supreme Court, acting as lead counsel in the seminal rating case of Newbigin v Monk in the Supreme Court and appearing again for the Revenue in the Supreme Court in the major VAT case of SAE Education Ltd.
Tax & Duties
- HMRC v Gray & Farrar International LLP  EWCA Civ 121: Succeeded before Court of Appeal in VAT case on place of supply of services of a high-end matchmaking agency.
- Mainpay Ltd v HMRC  EWCA Civ 1620: Succeeded as lead counsel in Court of Appeal on whether a supply was of exempt medical care.
- HMRC v Kishore  EWCA Civ 1565: Acted as lead counsel for HMRC in case in the Court of Appeal on the correct approach in the tax tribunal to abuse of process and Article 6 of the ECHR in the context of a previous struck out appeal.
- Welltower Inc : acted for US-based taxpayer on application of VAT welfare exemption to supplies made in UK.
- Claims Advisory Group Limited v Revenue and Customs  UKUT 199 (TCC): Appeared successfully for HMRC in case on whether fee received for recovery of overpaid PPI fell within the VAT insurance exemption.
- Malca-Amit (UK) Ltd v HMRC : Appeared as sole counsel for taxpayer in appeal concerning liability to duty on significant importation of rough diamonds.
- Sporting Wholesale Ltd v HMRC : Acted as sole counsel for taxpayer in multi-pronged attack on HMRC for repeated interceptions of company’s goods for no proper reason; case involved simultaneous judicial review, human rights and statutory challenges against HMRC.
- SAE Education Ltd v HMRC  UKSC 14: Appeared as sole counsel for HMRC in the Supreme Court in case about what an entity needs to show to establish that it is a college 'of' a university for the purposes of the VAT education exemption.
- Case C-592/15, Commissioners for HMRC v British Film Institute  STC 681: Successfully appeared before the Court of Justice of the European Union in case about whether Member States are permitted to choose which cultural services to exempt for the purposes of applying the cultural exemption from VAT.
- Amoena (UK) Ltd v HMRC  UKSC 41,  1 WLR 2904: Appeared as sole counsel for the Revenue in the Supreme Court in customs duty case on the meanings of 'part' and 'accessory'.
- South African Tourist Board v HMRC  UKUT 280 (TCC),  STC 2650: Succeeded in appeal on the issue of whether a tourist board owned by the South African government was making supplies of marketing services for consideration to the government.
- Vehicle Control Services Ltd v HMRC  EWCA Civ 186,  STC 892: Appeared before Court of Appeal in case on whether charges collected by a parking enforcement company were outside the scope of VAT as either damages for breach of contract or damages for trespass.
- British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers & Attractions Ltd v HMRC  UKUT 130 (TCC):Successfully appeared before the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) on the issue of whether a trade association's primary purpose was political lobbying and whether it would be unjustly enriched by the repayment of output tax.
- Tui Travel PLC & Ors v HMRC  UKFTT 75 (TC): Successfully acted in claim by travel agents for repayment of approximately £150 million in VAT allegedly overpaid on commissions received from tour operators for selling package holidays.
- Checkprice (UK) Ltd (In Administration) v HMRC  EWHC 682 (Admin),  STC 1153: Acted for claimants in judicial review challenge to the actions of HMRC in detaining perishable goods without seizing or releasing them and then destroying them.
- Holland (t/a the Studio Hair Company) v HMRC  EWHC 2621 (Ch),  STC 150 & HMRC v Denyer  EWHC 2750 (Ch),  STC 633: Successfully appeared in two appeals to the Chancery Division of the High Court on the issue of whether certain supplies were supplies of land for VAT purposes.
Rating & Valuation
- Hughes (VO) v Exeter City Council  UKUT 7 (LC): Acted for the Revenue in major case on whether loss-making museums should in effect pay no non-domestic rates.
- Newbigin (VO) v SJ & J Monk (a firm)  UKSC 14,  1 WLR 851: Appeared in Supreme Court as leading counsel for the Revenue in case on rateability and valuation of non-domestic buildings undergoing reconstruction; reported below at  EWCA Civ 78,  1 WLR 4817.
- Tunnel Tech Ltd v Reeves (VO)  EWCA Civ 718: Succeeded before the Court of Appeal on the question of whether a hereditament was a ‘market garden’ for the purposes of the agricultural exemption and on the issue of whether buildings could fall within the exemption for agricultural land.
- Johnson (VO) v HB Foods Ltd  UKUT (LC) 539: Appeared before President of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in case about whether appeals before the Lands Chamber are heard de novo.
In public law, Sab appears in first-instance judicial reviews for both claimants and public bodies and also has vast appellate experience in the Court of Appeal, having appeared there dozens of times as sole counsel. He has acted in a number of complex cases, particularly where they interact with other areas he practices in. For example, he appeared as amicus in the Court of Appeal in the AR (Pakistan) case on immigration bail powers and has had numerous successful appearances in the Court of Appeal in human rights and immigration cases, as illustrated below.
- R (Majera) v SSHD  UKSC 46,  AC 461: Acted as lead counsel for the government in case on legality of acts inconsistent with a court order, described by the Supreme Court as a case of “constitutional importance”.
- Qadir, Abassi, Mohammed, Ali, Nasradin, Saedi and others v Home Office [2021-2023]: Acting as sole counsel for claimants in series of cases alleging false imprisonment against the Home Office for the detention of Dublin III returnees.
- YD (Algeria) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1683: Successfully resisted challenge by Appellant and UNHCR, brought in Court of Appeal on Refugee Convention and human rights grounds, to legality of Tribunal country guidance on the safety of Algeria for gay men.
- AL (Albania) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 950: Succeeded before the Court of Appeal in arguing the correct approach that a tribunal should take to findings made in a decision in a linked case.
- AS (Afghanistan) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 873,  1 WLR 5345: Acted in major case in the Court of Appeal, with the UNHCR intervening, on the correct approach to be taken to the reasonableness of internal relocation. See also earlier decision of the Court of Appeal in the same case at  EWCA Civ 208,  1 WLR 3065, where Sab succeeded in establishing that the Upper Tribunal had statutory and inherent powers to correct errors in the reasons for its decisions.
- R (Guled) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 92: Appeared before the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the implication of an Anisminic error of law in a deportation order.
- SSHD v Lucas  EWCA Civ 2541 :Succeeded in case in the Court of Appeal about the scope of FTT bail and the consequent effect on the legality of detention.
- R (Teh) v SSHD  EWHC 1586 (Admin),  1 WLR 4327:Appeared as leading counsel for the Claimant in a judicial review claim in the Administrative Court and succeeded in arguing that a person with solely British Overseas Citizen status was stateless.
- IT (Jamaica) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 932,  1 WLR 240: Succeeded before the Court of Appeal on the question of the weight to be attached to the public interest, under the current immigration rules, when considering an appeal by a person who has already been deported against a refusal to revoke a deportation order.
- R (AR (Pakistan)) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 807,  1 WLR 255:Appeared as amicus curiae in the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the issue of whether the Chief Immigration Officer had the power to vary bail conditions imposed by an immigration tribunal.
- HD (Trafficked women) Nigeria (CG)  UKUT 454 (IAC):Appeared in country guidance case before the Upper Tribunal on whether it was safe for Nigerian sex trafficking victims to be returned to Nigeria.
- OO (Gay Men) (CG)  UKUT 65 (IAC): Appeared in country guidance case on the issue of whether gay men were generally at risk of persecution in Algeria.
- Sarfraz v Disclosure and Barring Service  EWCA Civ 544,  1 WLR 4441: Appeared for claimant in Court of Appeal case on whether a right to appeal existed against a refusal of permission to appeal against the decision of a body that was not a tribunal of law.
- AA (Algeria) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1741 and Soares v SSHD  EWCA Civ 575: Succeeded in two cases before the Court of Appeal on the correct application of Article 3(2)(a) of Directive 2004/38/EC, which requires Member States to facilitate the entry and residence of “other family members” of European Union citizens.
- ZS (Jamaica) & Anor v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1639: Successfully appeared in the Court of Appeal on case about whether a non-British child’s best interests required him and his mother to be permitted to remain in the UK.
- Bah (EO (Turkey) - liability to deport) Sierra Leone  UKUT 196 (IAC): Succeeded in case before the President of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) on whether police intelligence from anonymous sources was admissible in deportation appeals.
- AAO v Entry Clearance Officer  EWCA Civ 840: Succeeded in the Court of Appeal on case about whether the positive duty on the part of the state to show respect for family life under Article 8 of the ECHR extends to the provision of financial support.
- AO (Iraq) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1637: Successful in judicial review appeal to the Court of Appeal on the question of whether enforcement action taken against Iraqi nationals was contrary to the Secretary of State's policy not to take such action against those belonging to countries which were 'active war zones'.
- MK (Algeria) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 980: Acted in judicial review appeal to the Court of Appeal on the question of the appropriate level of damages to be awarded in cases of unlawful immigration detention.
- R (MC (Algeria)) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 347: Successfully defended judicial review challenge in the Court of Appeal to the lengthy detention, after his prison sentence had expired, of a man with mental health difficulties.
- MD (Jamaica) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 213:Successfully appeared in appeals to the Court of Appeal on the issue of the correct interpretation of the 'long residence' provisions in the Immigration Rules.
- CD (Jamaica) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 768: Succeeded in appeal before the Court of Appeal on the circumstances in which the Secretary of State should be permitted to withdraw a concession.
- Sanchez v SSHD  EWHC 3233: Succeeded before Divisional Court in judicial review claim on whether returning a US citizen to the USA, where he claimed he would face a disproportionate prison sentence under California’s 'three strikes and you’re out' legislation, would breach Article 3 of the ECHR.
Sab has a busy advisory and court practice in clinical negligence and personal injury, where he acts for claimants and defendants in cases involving complex medical evidence and profound and high-value injuries. His work spans all areas of clinical negligence and personal injury, such as delayed diagnosis of cancer and adult and child brain injury cases.
- Mathieu v Aviva Plc : Instructed by claimant in Court of Appeal in personal injury case about extent of loss of earning capacity of a successful artist, whether there was a risk of dementia arising from a traumatic brain injury so as to give rise to an entitlement to provisional damages and whether award for loss of earnings in a foreign jurisdiction should be gross or net of tax. Settled before the hearing in the Court of Appeal.
- A v X Local Health Board and Others : Acting for health board in complex multi-defendant action raising various procedural issues.
- JM v X Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust : Acted for hospital in complex cerebral palsy birth injury claim.
- DG v X NHS Foundation Trust : Instructed by hospital in cerebral palsy claim alleging negligent midwifery advice.
- LN v X GP : Acted for claimant in case concerning alleged failure to refer earlier for investigation of potential brain tumour, which resulted in patient’s death.
- LS v X Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust : Appeared for hospital in case involving alleged delayed diagnosis of infection that led to drastic amputation.
- HN v X Hospitals NHS Trust : Acted for surgeon alleged to have carried out negligent bowel operation, with difficult issues on causation and quantum.
- M v X NHS Trust : Acted for hospital in spinal injury case with radically opposing expert evidence as to consequences of timely treatment.
- D v X Hospitals NHS Trust : Acted for claimant in Fatal Accidents and Law Reform (MP) Act claim alleging that oesophageal cancer should have been detected earlier, which raised complex histopathology issues as to state of tumour at various earlier periods of time.
Sarabjit accepts direct access instruction from lay clients, with particular interest in tax, public law (including immigration) and clinical negligence. For further information please visit his profile here.
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