60-second interview with Oliver Marre

Oliver Marre, 13/5/2019

Oliver Marre is a barrister at 5 Stone Buildings, London.

What does your chambers do?

My colleagues at our Lincoln’s Inn chambers work across all areas of chancery law, and I am a tax barrister with a practice taking in the whole spectrum of revenue law, both contentious and non-contentious.

What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?

STEP is an excellent forum for sharing ideas. I also value the work of the technical committee in liaising with HMRC and HM Treasury and providing feedback from the practitioners’ perspective on the direction and drafting of tax legislation.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

Of STEP’s many strengths, I most admire its policy work on new legislation, and I hope HMRC does too. I know it is extremely time-consuming and draws on the expertise of many eminent practitioners.

You will be speaking at the STEP UK Annual Tax Conference in London this month. What will you be speaking on and what are the main issues?

I am giving the ‘capital tax update’ with Chris Whitehouse TEP, a much-valued colleague in chambers. We are talking about recent consultations from HMRC and the Office of Tax Simplification, as well as generally on lifetime planning, will-drafting and insurance-based planning.

My own aspect of the talk is likely to focus on capital taxes for foreign domiciliaries. While there were significant changes in this area in 2017, the ripples are still being felt, and the question of domicile is as fraught as ever (indeed, I am litigating a domicile case at present).

There’s also ongoing concern over the trust protections introduced for people deemed, under the new law, to be domiciled within the UK, who have a common law domicile elsewhere, and how ‘tainting’ a trust can result in the loss of protection.

Another area of current importance is how private clients with offshore links should deal with their responsibilities under the ‘requirement to correct’ rules.

What do you most like about your job?

No two days are the same, and yet it is always intellectually stimulating in one way or another. I love advising private clients, and equally enjoy the strategic questions which arise during hard-fought litigation.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

There are, of course, opportunities to help people who find themselves in real difficulties; but I also think that the tax bar plays a worthwhile role in helping to keep the powers of the state in check, and assists in upholding the rule of law.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

I am delighted to say that the bar generally, and the chancery bar in particular, has been making efforts to combat any perception that it is an ivory tower, or unsuitable for less traditional applicants. So, go for it, wherever you come from! While you need to be aware that it is very hard work, I suspect this is also true across the other professions which come together under the STEP network.

Which sectors are likely to see the strongest future growth, do you think?

On the litigation front, there has been an increase in judicial review work in the private client arena, which I expect to see continue. It is interesting to note that HMRC’s guidance is increasingly coming under scrutiny here.

What about jurisdictions?

I have recently interviewed a couple of Supreme Court judges for the Chancery Bar Association’s annual review and both were reassuringly confident that England and Wales has a strong future as a litigation jurisdiction for international disputes.

As an optimist I expect that citizens of the world, especially high-net-worth ones, will continue to be interested in Britain despite our current extended moment of political uncertainty. Increasing transparency, provided it comes with sensible and well-enforced checks and balances, and an ongoing respect for our right to a private life, should probably be embraced as good for business and long-term economic stability, rather than a cause for concern.

What trends do you see in the global private wealth sector at the moment?

Partly due to political uncertainty, clients are keen on structures that allow movement and don’t tie them too firmly to one jurisdiction or another. I also see a welcome trend in collaborative working between advisors in different jurisdictions. This is always fun, even if it can make for some late nights and early mornings.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing your chambers at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

Keeping ahead of the GDPR requirements has added a layer of complexity to the administrative side of practice. More widely, recruiting the barristers of the future is an exciting challenge, and (both in chambers and through the Chancery Bar Association) we are working on a number of programmes to extend the reach we have, and to encourage applications from the widest possible pool of candidates.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I used to be a journalist and tweeted in that capacity, although these days I am more likely to tweet on behalf of the Chancery Bar Association (@chancery_bar) as I chair the publications sub-committee. Chambers also has an active twitter feed (@5sblaw) to keep in touch with clients and colleagues. I am sporadically active on LinkedIn.

Oliver Marre is a barrister at 5 Stone Buildings. He writes chapters on HNW taxation and divorce/separation for Tolley’s Tax Guides, is the former co-author of Taxation of Charities and former moderator of the online edition of Taxation of Foreign Domiciliaries. He lectures regularly and has spoken at STEP events across England and in Edinburgh.