Sam Chandler successful in the Court of Appeal in the case of Clark v HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 204.

The case concerned the tax treatment of a transfer of monies from a pension scheme, later held to be void on the basis that the recipient trusts were void for uncertainty, thereby giving rise to a resulting trust in favour of the donor. The taxpayer argued that HMRC was incorrect to assert an unauthorised member payment charge on the basis of the transfer, because the word “payment” for the purposes of s. 160 FA 2004 did not encompass a transfer of mere legal title. The Court of Appeal upheld HMRC’s position, concluding that the word “payment” was apt to include a transfer where there was no transfer of beneficial ownership. It held that the contrary construction would render what was a legislative deterrent against unauthorised transfers out of pension schemes self-defeating in cases where it was needed most. It further held, contrary to the taxpayer’s contention in this regard, that the scope of the discovery assessment issued by HMRC in connection with the arrangements was wide enough to embrace the tax charge arising on the void transfer. Sam Chandler (led by Jonathan Davey QC) acted for HMRC.