James Puzey


James Puzey specialises in Government litigation, particularly in the fields of Tax and Health and Safety law. He has developed a busy practice of high quality work and provides an expertise in indirect tax litigation, which is almost unique in the Midlands. His practice takes him across the UK and encompasses work in Scotland and Northern Ireland. He is regularly instructed in appeals to the Upper Tribunal and Higher Courts, as well as public law cases that involve his areas of expertise.

James is on the ‘A’ list of Specialist Regulatory Advocates in Health and Safety and Environmental law and has been a member of the Treasury Solicitor’s Panel of Crown Counsel since 1998.

Health & Safety, Corporate & Gross Negligence Manslaughter

James has extensive expertise gained over 15 years of the most serious Health and Safety prosecutions. He appears regularly in the Crown Court in fatal accident cases and those involving risks to the public at large. He is equally comfortable acting for the prosecution or defence in the most complex matters.

James is very experienced in Crown Court advocacy, having begun his practice in criminal law in 1991. He was a member of the Attorney-Generals Panel of Prosecution Advocates from 1998 until the creation of the Unified List of Specialist Regulatory Advocates in 2012, of which he continues to be a member. His practice takes him across the UK and encompasses judicial review and Court of Appeal experience.

Recent Cases:

In recent years James has been instructed in a number of cases involving the risk of harm to the public at large: he has twice been instructed in the prosecution of cases concerning Legionella control and risks, which involved the analysis and presentation to a jury of detailed expert evidence (e.g. R v Eaton Limited). In 2015/2016 James acted for the HSE in the prosecution of Solvay Solutions Limited, one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the world. The case concerned a chemical fire and an escape of phosphoric acid at a plant in the West Midlands which caused the M5 to be shut. This was one of the first cases to be sentenced under the new sentencing guidelines.

As another example of issues affecting the safety of the public James has been instructed in two separate trials of lifeguards prosecuted for failing to discharge their responsibilities whilst on duty at public pools where swimmers have died.

In 2012, James prosecuted a local authority and its contractor in respect of an asbestos discharge in a primary school classroom (R v Staffordshire County Council and others). He is currently instructed in another asbestos control matter.

In 2015 James was instructed in the prosecution of Shropshire County Council in connection with the death in care of an adult with special needs.

In January 2016 James appeared in the prosecution of National Grid Gas which arose as a result of a gas leak and explosion on a street in Scunthorpe, which endangered public safety and the life of one of its contractors who was trapped in an excavation.

On the Defence side James’s recent work includes appearing for the well known tile and stone supplier, Mandarin Slate Limited and also for the construction firm, David Asley Construction in a case concerning a serious fall from height that was dealt with at Leicester Magistrates Court.

Current instructions: James is instructed to appear for the defence at the Old Bailey as junior counsel in a prosecution arising from the death of a member of the public in connection with a major construction project in central London.

He is also instructed by the HSE in the ongoing prosecutions of Jaguar Land Rover and Mid UK Recycling Limited.

James gives presentations and seminars in Health and Safety law and recently presented at the National Safety and Health Conference.

VAT & Excise

James Puzey  has established a significant  profile and  reputation in the  field of indirect tax litigation over the  last 15 years. Many of his cases have  involved new  or challenging points  of law, which  have  been reported and  relied upon subsequently. His practice encompasses VAT, Customs and  Excise duties  from  the  Tax Tribunal (Upper and  Lower) to the  High Court  and  Court of Appeal. There  are few significant  areas  of litigation before the  Tribunal in that  time which  he has not  been involved in.

In 2003, he was instructed in the  case of Gascoyne v Customs and  Excise Commissioners [2004] EWCA Civ 771, which concerned the  jurisdiction of the  Tribunal over the  seizure of motor vehicles  and  goods. He appeared thereafter in a succession of High Court  cases on this subject and  in 2014 was part of the successful team in First Stop Wholesale Ltd v HMRC [2014] UKSC 34.

Since MTIC appeals started to come before the  Tax Tribunal in or around 2006, James has appeared in many  such cases including POWA (Jersey)  Ltd v HMRC [2012] UKUT 83, an important decision on the  application of the  Court  of Appeal authority of Mobilx Ltd and  others v HMRC [2010] EWCA Civ 517. James was instructed as first junior in one of the  largest MTIC Scheme cases to come to Tribunal, ” The Klick Scheme “. In 2015 James appeared in the important authority of Fonecomp Limited v HMRC [2015] EWCA 39 which addressed the phenomenon known as “contra-trading” in MTIC fraud.

James has been instructed by HMRC in a number of appeals by motor traders in historic  “Fleming” appeals and  appeared as junior counsel in Bristol Street  Group plc v HMRC in 2010.  In 2012, he was involved as a leading  junior in the  case of General Motors  UK v HMRC. Since then James has successfully defended appeals before the First Tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal in cases such as N & M Walkingshaw Ltd v HMRC [2015] UKUT 123 and Why Pay More For Cars v HMRC [2015] UKUT 468.

More recently, James was instructed by the Revenue in Hammonds of Knutsford Plc v HMRC [2016] UKUT 195 and has appeared as junior counsel in European Brand Trading Ltd v HMRC [2016] EWCA Civ 90 and HMRC v Infinity Distribution Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 1014.

Inquests & Coronial

James appears regularly at inquests, as is to be expected given his health and safety experience.

Recent Work:

In 2015 he was instructed by Northamptonshire County Council in the inquest arising from the deaths of two students during a crush at a night club in Northampton. In 2016 James represented the Prison Service at an Article 2 inquest concerning the death of an inmate at Leicester Prison.


"An excellent lawyer who misses nothing." Legal 500 2020
"He is extremely dependable and produces very good work very promptly." and "He is one of the most popular counsels to use on indirect tax." Chambers UK
"He's excellent. He is on top of everything and is 100% reliable." Chambers UK
"He is well regarded for his experience and commitment to hard work." Chambers UK
"James is always calm, thorough and hugely efficient; he specialises in clear, concise instructions and always gives us swift responses." Chambers UK