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  • What the Directories Say

Under Tax: Indirect Tax: A force to be reckoned with for the most sophisticated of VAT disputes, she has enjoyed success on behalf of clients ranging from major organisations to HMRC. "Melanie is hugely well prepared, very thorough and has a pleasingly direct client manner." Chambers UK 2014

"Clients value highly Melanie Hall QC's 'ability to apply deep insight, and respond immediately to changing circumstances with agility and sagacity'." Recommended as a leading silk under Tax: Corporate & VAT. Legal 500 2013

Recommended as a leading Silk under EU and Competition Law. Legal 500 2013

"A razor sharp advocate" The Lawyer, 2013

"The "very tenacious" Melanie Hall QC is a tough opponent for anyone at the Bar, whatever their seniority." Chambers UK, 2013

Under Tax: Indirect Tax: "Her knowledge of VAT and customs duties is such that she has been engaged in some of the most important indirect tax cases of recent years." Chambers UK, 2013

Under EU and Competition Law Melanie Hall QC is regarded as 'informative, helpful and determined.' - Legal 500, 2012

Under Tax: Corporate and VAT Law: "Melanie Hall QC has the 'drive and determination that clients seek'." - Legal 500, 2012

Melanie Hall QC is regarded as "calm, collected and analytically spot-on" by commentators. Her recent work has included the major Calltel, Mobilx and Blue Sphere VAT case in the Court of Appeal. - Chambers UK, 2012

Tax: Corporate and VAT states that Melanie Hall QC "is 'very thorough and always well prepared', and appeared in Calltel, Mobilx & Blue Sphere." Legal 500, 2011

Recommended in Tax: Indirect Tax in Chambers UK, 2011 "the "polished and charming" Melanie Hall QC, handles VAT and customs duties matters, often appearing in the House of Lords and the ECJ. Sources say that she "always presents compelling arguments before the most demanding of tribunals." "

Under Tax: corporate and VAT the Legal 500, 2010 states that "the pragmatic, commercial and thorough Melanie Hall QC is very hardworking, technically strong and has extraordinary knowledge of indirect taxes."

Chambers UK, 2010 states that "Melanie Hall QC is pre-eminent in the field of VAT and customs duties, having represented numerous high-profile clients in courts up to and including the House of Lords and the ECJ. Her tenacious courtroom style places her in high demand, with clients noting that she is "a particularly effective cross-examiner." She also earns praise for her "ability to present complex arguments in a way that non-experts can understand.""

Melanie Hall QC is 'one of the most respected and able counsel in the field of VAT advice and advocacy' and highly regarded accordingly. The Legal 500, 2009

"Renowned for her "prodigious strength in court," Hall has a reputation as a "tenacious fighter and cross-examiner." She has made numerous appearances in the High Court and VAT Tribunal for prestigious clients on major cases including JPMorgan v HMRC, Boots plc v HMRC, Vodafone v HMRC and HMRC v Weald Leasing." - Chambers UK, 2009

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QC BA (Dunelm)
CALL DATE: 1982 SILK: 2002


Described as a 'sensational litigator' Melanie Hall has been an acknowledged leader in the field of VAT for many years.  She has acted in landmark cases which have shaped the structure and boundaries of VAT and other indirect taxes. In recent months she has defended the legality of the very existence of the Aggregates Levy; VAT on hot takeaway food, the UK's VAT Grouping legislation and the Landfill Tax. She is highly regarded by the European Court of Justice, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and Tax Tribunals, having appeared in key cases such as Wellcome, Midland Bank, Abbey National, Weald Leasing, Beynon and Kretztechnik.

She is a tenacious and well-respected advocate with a particular reputation for rigorous cross examination, thorough legal research and effective and persuasive presentation. She is also respected for her ability to communicate complex points of law to both clients and courts with simplicity and clarity. Her background as a commercial litigator and an EU Law specialist is particularly valued by clients. 

Melanie has advised and acted for many household name clients in the retail sector, food and catering, charities, education, telecoms, aviation, banking and other financial services, credit and debit card handling, insurance, publishing, entertainment, education, property, tourism, timeshare, local authorities, gambling, premier league football and the motor industry.

In addition to VAT, Melanie has conducted high profile litigation in other fields, including commercial litigation and employment.



  • RCI: Timeshare exchange; subscription fees; place of supply; double taxation; property
  • Weald Leasing: Halifax and abusive practices
  • TNT and Royal Mail: whether VAT is payable on postal services
  • Mobilx, Calltel and Blue Sphere: MTIC fraud
  • Vodafone: Top Up Cards, face value vouchers
  • Newcastle United FC: agency fees
  • Boots the Chemist: retail schemes
  • Mayflower Theatre Trust: input tax attribution
  • Abbey National: TOGC, input tax
  • The Wellcome Foundation: input tax on share sales
  • Gregg: the medical care exemption
  • EC v UK: infraction proceedings re VAT Grouping legislation
  • Sub-One: VAT on hot takeaway food
  • EDS: VAT treatment of call centres
  • Beynon: the scope of the VAT exemption for medical care, Card Protection Plan 
  • Dollond & Aitchison: import VAT and customs duties
  • Midland Bank: VAT treatment of overheads
  • Southern Primary: input tax attribution
  • Church Schools Foundation: charities
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants: VAT treatment of regulatory bodies
  • Eastbourne: VAT treatment of unincorporated associations
  • Mirror Group and Kretztechnik: VAT treatment of share issues
  • Factortame: the largest ever Community Law damages action against the State
  • Patersons of Greenoakhill: the scope of the Landfill Tax



Melanie Hall tends to specialise in test cases on points of principle affecting thousands of employees. She acted for the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in the case of Godfrey concerning the qualifying period with regard to claims for unfair dismissal, managing to defeat the claim on the basis of a rigorous analysis of the statistics and case law. She also appeared in the widely reported case of Rutherford and Bentley, a test case concerning upper age limits in the Employment Rights Act. Through these and other cases, she can fairly claim to be an expert in this difficult area of law concerning indirect discrimination and objective justification. She has effectively cross examined statisticians on the issue of disparate impact and has an in-depth knowledge of the finer statistical issues which arise in these cases.

Important Cases:

  • Allonby v Accrington College
  • Godfrey v DTI
  • Rutherford v DTI
  • Bell v CPS



Throughout her career at the Bar, Melanie has acted for private clients in general commercial litigation encompassing a broad range of areas such as aviation, professional negligence and construction law. She has acted for an impressive range of clients such as Eurostar, Holmes Place Plc and the National Farmers Union.



Since 1992 she has regularly advised and appeared in cases concerning VAT. She has appeared before VAT tribunals in London, Manchester and Birmingham, the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Justice. She is, additionally, a member of the Tax Journal Editorial Board.

Although she acts for the Commissioners in many areas, she is frequently engaged by taxpayers, representing a broad range of clients from local authorities, universities and charities (large and small) to well-known large traders, high street retailers, banks and other financial institutions, telecommunications providers, pharmaceutical companies, premier league football clubs and gambling operators. She is particularly renowned for her expertise on the old and new legislation concerning face value vouchers.

Having acted in Midland Bank (ECJ), Abbey National (ECJ), Kretztechnik (ECJ), Wellcome (ECJ), Dr Beynon (HL), Redrow (HL), Southern Primary (CA), Mayflower Theatre Trust (CA) and Tremerton (HC), Melanie has a particularly sound grounding in cases concerning input tax attribution, a subject on which she regularly advises both the Commissioners and taxpayers.

The cases of Wellcome (ECJ), Institute of Chartered Accountants (HL), Mirror Group Newspapers (CA); Kretztechnik (ECJ), St Paul's Community Project (HC), and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (Trib) have equipped Melanie to advise a range of clients on the scope of the concepts of “business” and “economic activity”.

Since Melanie acts for and is therefore respected by both the Commissioners and the private sector, both sets of clients can take comfort from the fact that any legal opinion she expresses will be respected by the other side.

Melanie is familiar with most aspects of VAT. Reported cases in which she has appeared are too numerous to list but include:

European Court of Justice

  • HSBC and Accenture: Stamp duty reserve tax
  • Weald Leasing: Abusive Practices
  • TNT Post: The postal services exemption
  • RCI Europe: Place of supply of property related services
  • The Wellcome Foundation: input tax on share sales
  • Gregg: the medical care exemption
  • British Aggregates Association v European Commission: State Aid
  • Midland Bank: the attribution of residual input tax by a partially exempt trader
  • Abbey National: whether there is an entitlement to deduct input tax incurred on the transfer of assets
  • Dollond & Aitchison: the relationship between VAT and customs duties
  • Liberexim: duty points
  • Kretztechnik: share issues

Supreme Court

  • Eastbourne Town Radio Cars Association: the VAT treatment of unincorporated associations
  • Redrow: the destination of a supply for the purposes of claiming an input tax credit
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants: scope of economic activity
  • Dr. Beynon: medical care exemption, Card Protection Plan

Court of Appeal

  • Weald Leasing: Abusive Practices
  • Mayflower Theatre Trust: input tax attribution
  • Compass Contract Services: catering
  • EDS : the VAT treatment of call centres
  • Pilgrims: the scope of the education exemption
  • Mirror Group Plc: whether or not a share issue is a supply
  • Church Schools Foundation: the VAT treatment of voluntary donations
  • Southern Primary: input tax attribution
  • Blom-Cooper: Zero-rating of construction works
  • Polok: unlawful activities
  • St Pauls: business/non-business

VAT Tribunal

  • Boots the Chemist: Face Value Vouchers and Retail Schemes
  • Avon Cosmetics and other party plan cases
  • Vodafone: face value vouchers
  • Weald Leasing: VAT avoidance
  • Stanley House Logistics: warehousing