In the United Kingdom and indeed all of the European Union, there are many forms of law practice that can seem bewildering to those who are not a part of the legal profession. Different situations call for different kinds of lawyer, be it a lawyer who specializes in family law or the Commercial Courts. With this in mind, it behooves private citizens and businesses alike to know what kind of legal professional hire in what situation. In situations where value added tax or any other form of indirect tax is taken to court, a citizen or business needs a VAT barrister, one or more experts who specialize in the legal proceedings involved with value added tax.
Value added taxes is as much a technical profession as a legal profession. A VAT barrister must be familiar with indirect taxation laws that are as complex as any high tech mechanical device, while still being able to handle legal work in and out of the courts. And, much like high technology, the laws of value added taxes and similar taxes are changing on a near constant basis, requiring equally near constant retraining and studying to know exactly what the VAT barrister needs to know. VAT barristers usually work on teams, as much of the profession is about researching taxation laws and divvying up the research is a way to get more done faster. Further, a VAT barrister will spend a lot of time advising clients and less time litigating than other forms of legal work. However, there is still quite a bit of time spent in a courtroom with a judge on hand to decide the case. Even when there is a court battle on the horizon, a lot of a VAT barrister's time is spent pouring over complex documents, drafting legal requests and preparing a case as far in advance as possible. Luckily VAT barristers have a long lead time, with a nine month preparation period being about standard for the profession. Even the most well prepared case can still fall apart without a barrister who can argue well on behalf of a client in a court of law, so even a barrister with a brilliant technical mind must still be able to be persuasive to a judge.
Tax legislation is a fairly complicated set of laws and no one can be said to know them perfectly. Still, a VAT barrister is expected to be able to learn the minutiae of tax laws and their many associated procedures in the time it takes to prepare a case and still be able to go to court and argue that their client followed both the law and the established procedures to the letter and spirit of the law. It is, however, a very small, very specialized profession. To be licensed as a VAT barrister, a legal professional must pass the Bar Professional Training Course and complete a pupillage to get full certification. Still, when a citizen needs to make an appearance before a judge over value added taxes, a VAT barrister can be a life saver.