Tax Litigation Services
Where a potential tax dispute is likely to crystallize, we assist clients to assess the strength of their case, leveraging our deep technical/subject matter, tax administrative practice and sectoral knowledge. Our intensive review culminates in the production of a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the client case vis a vis the taxman, and a recommendation on client’s next steps that will safeguard client’s interest within the context of the law. It is sometimes more efficient to avoid litigation (and also obviate prejudicing relationship with the tax authorities) where the client’s case is weak. One benefit of this exercise for our clients is that learning points are identified to prevent future re-occurrence, for instance where lax dealing with tax correspondence unwittingly foisted a final and conclusive assessment on the company.
Advocacy in Regulatory Liaison
We support the client’s tax consultants/accountants in case articulation during liaison with tax authorities, for example on specific issues during audits or in challenging tax assessments through objection letters. We had severally been able to safeguard client’s interests by successfully convincing tax authorities that their positions are wrong thereby obviating corporate embarrassment when threatened tax enforcement actions were called off. In one instance, a threatened distrains predicated on invalid conditions precedent was called off. In another, a legal analysis that the tax authority would be exceeding its powers if it took threatened actions in the circumstances of the case, resulted in change of approach to our client’s benefit.
We represent clients at the TAT and the Courts in respect of their tax disputes. We are among the select club of lawyers that have both subject matter expertise and litigation skills, creating synergies that benefit our clients. We can also work with clients’ primary counsel (as co-counsel) to contribute subject matter expertise to clients’ counsel. We find tax disputes involving novel or complex issues most interesting and relish the opportunity to use them, in contributing to the development of Nigerian tax jurisprudence, through our advocacy.
Tax Litigation Consultancy Support/Expert Witness Services
We can provide consultancy support to clients (in this case, mindful of Rules of Professional Conduct) or their primary counsel. Such support may include:
- review of recently concluded tax disputes to assess the prospect of success or otherwise on appeal;
- review and input to written submissions on tax disputes;
- witness preparation sessions – for evidence in chief and cross examinations;
- holding watching briefs on landmark tax litigation cases that clients (albeit not parties, but because of potential impact on clients’ businesses), are mindful of closely monitoring their proceedings and outcomes; and
- acting as expert witness to proffer independent opinion on recondite issues in tax disputes. This will typically entail preparation and filing of expert opinion and participation in proceedings as witness.
We also act as expert witness on Nigerian fiscal aspects of (cross border) investment disputes, and can also act as counsel in investment disputes arbitration.
Tax Litigation Pre-emptive Strategy/Tax Governance Advisory
Under this heading, we work with the client to set up, review or restructure optimal tax governance systems that reduce the possibility of tax disputes. This defensive strategy is prudent, obviating future diversion of corporate time and resources to prosecuting avoidable tax disputes. It is also a good testament to exemplary corporate citizenship that accords the proper attention to tax compliance.
Consultancy for Tax Authorities
We also consult for tax authorities, for example facilitating at staff training programmes/supporting capacity expansion initiatives, or prosecution of tax enforcement cases on behalf of tax authorities.
We also provide updates on significant developments/changes in the Nigerian tax litigation landscape to our clients, highlighting implications of same for clients’ business arrangements and tax affairs. Through our LeVersity newsletters, we provide high level discussion points of same for a wider audience.
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