University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law

Monday 3rd December 2012, 18:15

Trinity Hall: 'The Tax Avoidance Debate: Legal and Ethical Issues'

"Taxation," wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1816, "is the most difficult function of government and that against which their citizens are most apt to be refractory."

Almost two hundred years later it does not seem to be any easier. The more the government legislates against tax avoidance the more loopholes appear and the longer and more complex our tax code becomes.

What is tax avoidance? Can you define it? How do you stop it? Should everyone’s tax affairs be made more transparent? What are the ethics of avoidance – even if it is legal, is it "morally wrong" as the Prime Minister recently claimed? How does globalisation affect avoidance?

Guiding us through these issues will be a panel of experts:

  • Graham Aaronson QC (Trinity Hall ’63) is a leading tax barrister whose recent report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been the basis for the proposed general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR) to combat tax avoidance. Graham has appeared in many of the most important recent tax cases.
  • Judith Knott is Director, Corporation Tax, International and Anti-Avoidance (CTIAA) at HM Revenue and Customs.
  • Dr Laura Bironis a research fellow in philosophy of law at Queens' College, Cambridge. She is interested in questions about the application of philosophy to areas of law and public policy - in particular, concerning taxation and intellectual property.

The panel will be chaired by Guy Brannan (Trinity Hall ’74), a judge of the First-tier Tax Tribunal and formerly head of tax at the City law firm Linklaters.

Venue: The Lecture Theatre, Trinity Hall, Cambridge CB2 1TJ - Monday 3 December 2012, 6.15 – 7.30pm


01223 332555 or

Enquiries to Dr Claire Daunton or Mary Richmond at the above address.


Faculty of Law