The Solicitor's Office is one of the largest legal departments in the Government Legal Service (GLS). It employs approximately 160 lawyers - a mixture of both barristers and solicitors, as well as around 200 caseworkers, paralegals and support staff.
The Solicitor's Office is divided across four locations, with most staff employed in central London, in either 100 Parliament Street in Whitehall or Bush House on the Strand, but with about 30 lawyers located in Ralli Quays in Manchester, and one in Edinburgh.
There are currently nine legal trainees (six solicitors, one pupil, and one newly qualified barrister completing her second year of training with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)) and one trainee on secondment from another GLS department for their litigation seat. The department will be engaging new trainee lawyers in September 2012 (three trainee solicitors and one pupil) and expects to take on around four legal trainees in 2013 and another four in 2014.
The Solicitor's Office advises and assists HMRC in fulfilling its purpose and vision. The Solicitor's Office is at the very heart of government, and lawyers can expect to engage with a wide variety of law and policy matters at all levels, from conducting advocacy in the Tribunals to sitting at a minister's knee in Parliament. Most areas of practice have a European slant as EU and Human Rights law are predominantly shaped by the action of member states' governments.
Unlike most government departments, rather than using the Treasury Solicitors Office (Tsol), HMRC Solicitor's Office litigates on its own behalf. Indeed almost half of the work carried out by the office is litigation. The office no longer conducts criminal litigation; this is now carried out by HMRC Prosecutions Office (RCPO), but continues to advise HMRC's criminal investigators on criminal law matters. Litigation is conducted in all courts and tribunals with a substantial number of high profile cases reaching the Court of Appeal, House of Lords and the European Courts of Justice and Human Rights.
A large proportion of the work HMRC Solicitor's Office advisory lawyers carry out is work on the annual Finance Bill, and instructing Parliamentary Counsel to draft this, and other legislation. HMRC Solicitor's Office drafts its own secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments) which implement primary legislation. Advisory lawyers advise on the law relating to the practice, procedure and policy in all aspects of the department's work.
Tax law is a key aspect of the work of the Solicitor's Office that centres on issues such as the lawfulness of tax avoidance schemes, the prevention of fraudulent claims, dealing with big businesses to attempt to close the 'tax-gap', and even whether something can be said to be a cake or a biscuit for the purposes of VAT.
HMRC lawyers deal with the law only and are not engaged in the calculation of tax or in accountancy matters generally. Tax is a technical and highly intellectually demanding area of law requiring close analysis and attention to detail; HMRC lawyers expect to be stretched and challenged in their work.
While tax law is central to the work of many Solicitor's Office teams, it is by no means the only type of law they deal with. Public law is central to HMRC Solicitor's Office, and other areas include commercial law, procurement, employment law, criminal law, gambling and gaming law, insolvency, organised crime and fraud, information law, and European and international law. HMRC lawyers spend much of their time researching novel areas of law, interpreting legislation, and formulating innovative solutions to legal problems.
Anthony Inglese is General Counsel and Solicitor, and Director-General of Solicitor's Office. Solicitor's Office consists of three directorates - Solicitor's Office A, B & C - together with the Commissioners' Advisory Accountant's group, and Solicitor's Office D which provides legal and business support.
Finally, the Private Offices of HMRC Chief Executive, Lin Homer, and HMRC Non-Executive Chairman, Mike Clasper, both come into the structure of Solicitor’s Office, along with Corporate Governance.
The Solicitor's Office organisation structure is as follows: