an unrivalled choice when a definitive answer is needed on complex tax-driven employment legislation
Chambers UK

Timothy Brennan QC
Year of Call 1981 Silk 2001

Timothy Brennan QC is the elected head of Devereux Chambers.

He has appeared in courts and statutory and domestic tribunals at all levels throughout the United Kingdom, including numerous cases in the House of Lords and the Supreme Court, as well as in Strasbourg and Hong Kong.

He practises mainly in tax and other commercial litigation, judicial review and other public law litigation and employment law. He welcomes instructions outside these fields in interesting cases.

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 also sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court.

He has 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:


    Singled out for his unique blend of employment and tax expertise, he undertakes a large volume of advisory work for City-based employers. Expertise: "He has good technical knowledge which he can practically apply to the day-to-day down-in-the-gutter activity clients are involved in." "He is the person you think about for tax crossover cases." - Employment, Chambers UK 2015

    Regularly represents the interests of taxpayers and the Revenue in a broad selection of tax disputes. He acts in cases concerning all taxes, but he is especially active in corporation tax, income tax, national insurance and capital gains tax matters. Expertise: "He is great at public law and great for judicial review. He understands the Revenue very well and is a marvellous cross-examiner." Recent work: He represented Next Distribution in a capital allowances case centring on the tax status of import and distribution warehouses. - Tax, Chambers UK 2015

    "Recommended for employment remuneration matters." - Employment, Legal 500 2014

    "Draws on his specialist knowledge of tax and employment law to bring an exceptional array of skills to bear" - Tax: Corporate and VAT, Legal 500 2014

    Is a notably strong employment silk, whose thriving practice takes in, inter alia, disputes arising from remuneration planning. Sources acknowledge his strategic approach to complex cases. Expertise: "He's at the cutting edge of employment law." "He's first-rate on board strategy and employee tax issues." Recent work: He appeared before the EAT in Hammonds LLP v Mwitta, a case that examined the burden of proof in race discrimination. - Chambers UK 2014

    The "extremely reassuring" Timothy Brennan QC is acclaimed by market sources as "someone to go to when it really matters." He is frequently instructed by clients in the City and accountancy firms to advise on employment matters with a tax element. Brennan recently appeared in the Supreme Court in Autoclenz v Belcher, a case on employment status and other issues. - Chambers UK 2013

    "A very good, robust" performer and "a fine tactician," who brings a real breadth of knowledge to his work. He is an especially good choice for clients seeking to resolve workplace-related tax disputes. His recent cases have included Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher, a Supreme Court case examining employee tax status. - Chambers UK 2013

    "An unrivalled choice when a definitive answer is needed on complex tax-driven employment legislation." He is "charming, highly intellectual and ruthless when you need him to be." Brennan is commended for his collegiate approach - Chambers UK 2012

    "Comes up with the goods time and again." An experienced litigator and adviser, he has recently been involved in domestic matters in the Supreme Court, along with various international tax issues. Commentators say he is "very solutions-based, pragmatic and user-friendly. He displays great agility in his analytical range, which enables him to understand cases and offer opinions quickly.” - Chambers UK 2012

    Within ‘Tax: corporate and VAT’, Timothy Brennan QC is ranked a Leading Silk who is considered ‘very thorough, professional and concise’. Legal 500 2011

    An outstanding advocate who understands the thought processes of judges better than anyone else ..."Has lucidity of mind and toughness in court. First choice for employment matters with taxation overlap." - Chambers UK 2011

    "Extraordinarily quick at responding to questions and a particularly effective cross examiner." - Chambers UK 2010

    "Esteemed for his advocacy skills. Marvellously quick-witted and incisive in his approach, he conducts lethal cross-examinations that draw upon exhaustive research. Particularly renowed in the employment-related tax field." - Chambers UK 2009 

  • Tax

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    He has much experience at all levels in substantial high-value litigation, often factually as well as legally complex requiring expert evidence and mastery of technical detail. He previously held the Attorney-General's appointment as Junior Counsel to the Inland Revenue (Common Law); since taking silk in 2001 he represents taxpayers and the Crown.

    Particular expertise in employment related taxation, but tax work has involved statutory appeals and judicial review concerning, among other things, capital allowances, industrial buildings, Enterprise Zones, employment remuneration, employee benefit trusts, NIC schemes, PRT and oil industry technology, investigation powers, forged documents, domicile, avoidance, company residence, transfer pricing, transfer of assets abroad and offshore settlements, shadow directors, journalism, horse-racing, waste disposal, retail developments, accountancy principles, exempt approved pension schemes, pensions busting, FURBS, legal professional privilege, the Iranian Revolution, crematoria and massive commercial fraud.

    He has appeared in scores of reported cases at all levels over the last decade - too many to list here. They include many of the major tax cases of recent years, 14 of them in the House of Lords and Supreme Court, in Strasbourg, and many in the Court of Appeal and the High Court, both in the Chancery Division and in the Administrative Court, as well as before the Special Commissioners and in the Upper Tribunal and First-tier Tribunal.  They have been particularly in the fields of tax avoidance, employment taxation, company and individual residence and domicile, and investigations.

    Some of them are:

    • Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher [2011] UKSC 41  (employment status, 'sham' substitution and 'no obligation' clauses, whether employee, worker, or independent contractor)
    • Yukos v Russia [2011] STC 1988 (ECHR, tax fraud, Art 6, Art 1 Protocol 1)
    • R (Prudential plc) v Special Commissioner [2010] EWCA Civ 1094 (statutory investigation powers; no legal professional privilege for accountants giving tax advice)
    • HM Revenue & Customs v Smallwood [2010] EWCA Civ 778, [2010] STC 2045 (tax avoidance through double tax treaties; place of effective management and the 'Round the World Scheme')
    • Drummond v HM Revenue and Customs [2009] EWCA Civ 608 (tax avoidance through second-hand insurance policies; interrelation between income tax and CGT treatment)
    • Laerstate BV v HM Revenue & Customs [2009] UKFTT 209 (TC) (company residence; central management and control; place of effective management; application of Wood v Holden and Smallwood)
    • Maco Door and Window Hardware (UK) Ltd v HM Revenue and Customs [2008] STC 2564, [2008] UKHL 54 (industrial building allowances, meaning of 'part of a trade')
    • Agassi v Robinson [2006] STC 1056, [2006] UKHL 23 (taxation of international entertainers and sportsmen)
    • Wood v Holden [2006] STC 443, [2006] EWCA Civ 26 (residence of companies, central management and control)
    • MacDonald v Dextra Accessories Ltd  [2005] STC 1111, [2005] UKHL 47 (deductibility of payments into employee benefit trusts)
    • Wilkinson v Commissioners of Inland Revenue [2006] STC 270, [2005] UKHL 30 (Extra Statutory Concessions and the Human Rights Act 1998)
    • R v A Special Commissioner, ex parte Morgan Grenfell & Co Ltd (HL) [2003] 1 AC 563 (investigation powers and legal professional privilege)
  • Employment

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    Extensive experience of employment litigation at all levels up to the House of Lords and Supreme Court. Including termination of employment and retirement, public and private sector pension schemes and other retirement arrangements, 'pensions busting', unfairness, redundancy, Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses, restrictive covenants, confidentiality, TUPE, public procurement, trade unions, race, sex, disability, age, orientation discrimination, Working Time, PAYE, NICs, IR35, SSP, Tax Credits, and the National Minimum Wage, disciplinary tribunals (medical, legal and education), sports tribunals.

    Cases include:



2008 - Deputy High Court Judge (Supreme Court Act 1981, s 9(1)), authorised to sit in the Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court and Chancery Division

2006 - Bencher of Gray's Inn

2006-2009 - Vice-Chairman of the Complaints Committee of the Bar Standards Board

2002-04 - Judge of the Employment Appeal Tribunal

2001 - Queen's Counsel

1997-2001 - Junior Counsel to the Inland Revenue (Common Law)

2000 - Recorder

1997 - Assistant Recorder

Memberships & Associations

COMBAR, ELBA, ELA, Revenue Bar Association.  London Welsh Lawyers; Trustee of London Welsh Centre.

Member of Management Committee of Gray's Inn

Awards & Scholarships

Atkin Scholar of Gray’s Inn

Various other awards and prizes


Olchfa School, Swansea

Balliol College, Oxford

Personal interests

Opera and choral music, Welsh culture, cycling and other sports.