Thornely Lectures

Thornely Lecture

The ninth Annual John Thornely Lecture was held on the 22 April 2013 at the offices of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London.   Sidney Alumnus and Managing Partner at Freshfields Mark Rawlinson (1976), welcomed the approximately eighty assembled students, alumni and guests, before regaling the audience with his memories of being a student under John Thornely. The Chair of the Thornely Society, Professor Alan Dashwood then introduced our speaker Malcolm Gammie CBE QC.

His Lecture entitled “Moral taxation, immoral avoidance: what role for the law?” was very well received.  In particular Malcolm spoke about the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion, both of which were described as being “morally repugnant” by the Chancellor in his 2012 Budget speech.  Against that background Malcolm considered whether there is a moral aspect to taxation and its avoidance, the significance of avoidance to the design of tax systems and whether the General Anti-Abuse Rule (part of the Government’s approach to managing the risk of tax avoidance) represents "the uncertain and crooked cord of discretion" masquerading as law.

The Lecture was followed by a lively and thought-provoking question and answer session, moderated by Professor Dashwood.  The evening was rounded off with a canapés and drinks reception. 

Sidney Sussex College and the Thornely Society are extremely grateful to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for hosting this event, and the AGM of the Thornely Society which preceded it.

Malcolm Gammie CBE QC

Malcolm studied law at Sidney Sussex under John Thornely’s tutelage from 1969 to 1972 before qualifying as a solicitor with Linklaters in their tax department.  After working away from the firm from 1978, he returned to Linklaters in 1985 and from 1987 until 1997 was one of their senior tax partners.  He moved to the Bar in 1997 to concentrate on tax litigation and advisory work and took silk in 2002. 

He has represented Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in several high profile tax avoidance cases that have successfully deployed the Ramsay principle, including some that have featured on the front pages of The Times.  He also sits as a judge in the First-tier and Upper Tax Tribunals. 

Malcolm is noted for his tax policy work and for more than 35 years has worked closely with the Institute for Fiscal Studies.  He is Research Director for the IFS’ Tax Law Review Committee and is a member of the Government’s Tax Professionals’ Forum chaired by the Exchequer Secretary.  He was a member of the editorial team of the IFS’ Mirrlees Review, which published its report ‘Tax by Design’ in 2011.  He was award the CBE in 2005 for his tax policy work.

Previous Thornely Lectures