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Waqar Shah, Managing Associate, Dispute Resolution

Waqar Shah


Personal Profile

Waqar is a Partner in the Dispute Resolution department, focusing on the resolution of complex indirect and direct tax matters. He acts for high net worth individuals and corporate clients across all sectors in respect of HMRC disputes and investigations across the full range of taxes. This typically includes VAT disputes, employment tax matters (including 'IR35'/off-payroll working), customs/excise duty issues, tax fraud investigations, and more recently, National Minimum Wage enquiries.

Waqar is known for his commercial approach to matters involving HMRC and has a strong track record of helping clients settle without the need for a court or tribunal hearing, particularly through the effective use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (i.e. mediation) with HMRC. He also has considerable experience in judicial reviews and group litigation orders and has led high profile matters at all levels from the Tax Tribunal through to the Supreme Court (including referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union).

Waqar has been regularly recognised in both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as 'one to watch' and a 'rising star'. He was listed in AccountancyAge's '35 under 35' in 2019 and regularly contributes to Tax Journal, Taxation, and other similar publications. Waqar is also the annual webinar presenter of the key tax cases of the year for Lexis and an active member of the VAT Practitioners Group. Waqar is a qualified member of the Association of Tax Technicians (ATT).

Key Experience

Led a variety of matters before the Courts and Tax Tribunals, as well as advising at a pre-litigation stage on other cases, including:


  • Mercedes-Benz Financial UK Limited's hearing in the the Court of Justice of the European Union, as to whether supplies of certain products are correctly considered supplies of goods or supplies of services for VAT purposes. Zipvit's appeal to the Supreme Court relating to the VAT treatment of postal services supplied by Royal Mail.
  • Acting for over 300 claimants in the Royal Mail Group Litigation (one of The Lawyer's Top 20 cases) in the High Court and Court of Appeal.
  • Europcar's successful appeal relating to the VAT status of child car seats.
  • Various disputes relating to use of the VAT exemption for supplies of tuition and education.
  • Kumon's successful appeal in the First-tier Tribunal relating to VAT and contingent discounts.

Employment related HMRC disputes

  • Successful resolution of disputes on behalf of a number of different employers relating to the interpretation of the National Minimum Wage rules as applicable to worker Christmas savings clubs, uniforms, working time, and related issues.
  • Analysing clients existing structures and advising on the best way forward to minimise the impact of the off-payroll working rules (IR35) alongside our Employment Department. This has included working with our clients' in-house HR and legal teams to identify workers that may be within the scope of the rules and considering the best position.
  • Advising clients on disclosures to HMRC in respect of overclaimed Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) payments.
  • Working alongside our White Collar Crime & Investigations in respect of the impact of the corporate offences for failing to prevent criminal facilitation of tax evasion.

Other Direct Tax

  • Advising clients on the best strategy in respect of allegations of tax fraud.
  • Advising on multiple matters relating to 'Disguised Remuneration' on Employee Benefit and Remuneration Trusts, particularly with regards to settlement.
  • Advising on recipients on Accelerated Payment Notices and Follower Notices respectively.
  • Advising on residence and domicile matters for HNWIs.
  • Nottingham City Council's appeal to the First-tier Tribunal in respect of income tax and National Insurance Contributions on its salary sacrifice bus pass scheme.
  • Versteegh Limited's litigation in respect of a scheme designed to achieve a corporation tax deduction (as part of a number of joint claims claim).
  • Vocalspruce's appeal in respect of whether the profit on loan notes is subject to a charge to corporation tax, as a result of certain intra-group financing arrangements.

Customs & Excise Duty

  • Managing a global electronics company's customs duty litigation on the classification of a portable music device, specifically, whether it should be classified as a music or video player.
  • Acting for a warehouse and distribution company in respect of its appeal against excise duty assessments in the First-tier Tribunal and a related judicial review in the High Court.

Commercial Tax Disputes

  • The Prudential privilege litigation in the Supreme Court, which considered whether legal advice privilege should extend to legal advice given by accountants (one of The Lawyer's Top 20 Cases of 2012).
  • The States of Jersey's judicial review, in respect of the government’s decision to abolish Low Value Consignment Relief for goods imported from the Channel Islands.
  • A damages claim against the UK government relating to its failure to stop evasion, avoidance and abuse in respect of Channel Islands' fulfilment industry.
  • Advising clients from the sports sector in respect of issues relating to player transfers, image rights, and agent payments.

Articles & Publications

"Employee incentives, vouchers and the VAT consequences" – Taxation, 22 March 2022
"Post-pandemic corporate criminal tax evasion offences and investigations in the post-pandemic economy" – Taxation, 10 November 2020
"VAT mixed supplies" – Taxation, 28 July 2020
"Effect of Supreme Court decision on recovering VAT on fundraising" – Taxation, 3 December 2019
" FTT in Paya Ltd and the application of the IR35 legislation" – Taxation, 22 October 2019
"Nestle: the delights of VAT zero-rating" – Tax Journal, 8 March 2018

Career History

Partner, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Legal Director, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Managing Associate, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Associate, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Solicitor, PwC Legal LLP
Trainee Solicitor, PwC Legal LLP
The College of Law, London, Legal Practice Course
City University, London, Law (LLB) (Hons)

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