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Martin O'Neill

Tax, Dispute Resolution (Commercial Litigation), Tax & VAT Disputes

Martin leads the Indirect Tax Litigation team and has over twenty years’ experience.

His work currently involves representing business clients across a wide range of industry sectors facing disputes with the HMRC.

Martin leads the Indirect Tax Litigation team and has over twenty years’ experience. His work currently involves representing business clients across a wide range of industry sectors facing disputes with the HMRC.

Prior to joining Cubism Law Martin worked extensively as a litigator in VAT, Excise and Customs duties, and he started his career working as specialist investigator for the law enforcement arm of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

His work predominantly involves cases of alleged 'knowledge or means of knowledge' of frauds committed by others - so called Kittel Cases, an increasingly important area of tax litigation, as HMRC now regularly focus their efforts away from apprehending those committing frauds, on to attempts to recover defrauded tax from others with alleged connections to a fraud - often because they are the ultimate consumer of a product or, have sold it on. 

The use of 'Kittel' type reasoning now underpins HMRC strategies in VAT and Excise Duty control. Martin has achieved notable successes in this field in cases such as Livewire Telecom Limited, JDI Trading Ltd, CCA Distribution Ltd and Davis & Dann Ltd.

Martin is instructed on all areas of indirect tax including Value Added Tax, Excise Duties and Customs duties. He has experience of litigating in all levels of court from Tax Tribunals all the way up to the Court of Appeal.

Martin handles all aspects of his clients' appeals.  His approach is to build a bespoke team of specialists to address the individual needs and requirements of each case, but also the clients' budgets. Teams can include Counsel, industry sector experts, forensic accountants, litigation funders and insolvency specialists.

Certain industries remain high on HMRC’s target list, such as traders in so called grey/parallel markets, telecommunications, alcoholic drinks and tobacco wholesale/transport, computer components distribution, nightclubs and other leisure industry businesses.  Martin assists clients in these industries to implement the best possible procedures to ensure the highest levels of control of indirect taxes.  Additionally Martin liaises with tax officers on client’s behalf in order to best manage their relationship with HMRC.  In doing so Martin assists clients so that they may best deal with the increasingly intrusive and aggressive efforts of HMRC to increase the recovery of taxes and so provide the best possible assurances that clients do not receive large indirect tax assessments.


Martin has represented clients in many industries such as telecommunications & IT, soft drinks, confectionery, pharmaceuticals and other consumer products, alcoholic drinks and tobacco distribution, warehousing, haulage, leisure, construction, and professional services industries.

Services:

  • Customs Duties
  • Excise Litigation
  • ‘Kittel’ Litigation
  • VAT Litigation
  • VAT / Excise / Customs Advice and Consultancy
  • Successful conduct of notable VAT cases concerning the denial of tax reclaims on the ground of knowledge / means of knowledge, including:
    • Livewire Telecom Limited
    • JDI Trading Limited
    • Davis & Dann Limited
    • CCA Distribution Limited (In Administration)
  • Ongoing conduct of case of contested VAT reclaim concerning supplies if IPhones to a broker via ‘runners’.
  • Successful conduct of cases of opposed applications for WOWGR licence
  • Successful conduct of cases of HMRC’s enquiries into alleged under payment of VAT by a nightclub chain
  • Ongoing conduct of appeal against Excise Duty ‘handling’ penalties
  • 2017 - Cubism Law, Partner
  • 2011-2017 - Smith & Williamson LLP, Partner Customs Investigation & Litigation,
  • 2010-2011 - BTG Tax LLP, Director
  • 2005 – 2010 – Vantis Tax Ltd, Senior Consultant
  • 2003 – 2005 – WJB Chiltern Ltd, Consultant, Tax Investigations
  • 2001 – 2003 – KPMG LLP, Assistant Manager, Tax Investigations
  • 1992 – 2001 – HM Customs & Excise, Officer National Investigation Service