James Quarmby - Spear's Magazine

James Quarmby

Stephenson Harwood

James Quarmby
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James Quarmby, usually the most quotably pugnacious solicitor out there, initially wrong-foots Spear’s: ‘I’m feeling quite relaxed after a holiday, and looking forward to a good walk,’ he says.

But any fears of some great mellowing are quelled when we ask him about the past year. ‘A dog’s breakfast,’ he says, without missing a beat. ‘All these proposals, then an election – some were dropped, some revitalised. It was a terrible year.’

There is a silver lining: ‘This year is not as bad because we have a big non-doms reform every ten years.’ But this concession seems merely to tauten the sling for the next shot: ‘Some of the legislation coming out of the Treasury is awful. Someone needs to take a slipper to them. It’s poorly drafted and poorly targeted; and that’s a concern, along with its draconian nature. The word “overreaction” springs to mind.’

That refers to the Requirement to Correct, of course, and it’s important to realise that Quarmby’s passion is never voiced for its own sake – it’s voiced for the sake of his clients. Besides, it’s the sheer scale of the penalties which particularly irk: under the Requirement to Correct, ‘if you had an offshore trust worth £10 million, you could end up with a penalty of £1.2 million. There’s no place for that in our tax code. If this were criminal law, it’s putting someone in prison for ten years for nicking
a loaf of bread.’