Ian Mayes QC 

Called: 1974

Year of Silk: 1993

Inn: Middle Temple



Email: clerks@1ec.co.uk






Our Head of Chambers started in the law at a time when lawyers were expected to be effective advocates in all areas rather than in just one narrow field. The benefit for his clients of that training, and of his unusually diverse experience, is that he can often come up with innovative solutions to apparently intractable problems.

He was educated at Highgate School in North London, where he was a Foundation Scholar, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was twice Hooper Prizeman. He was also a Harmsworth Scholar.

He has sat as a Recorder in the Crown Court and for many years chaired the Enforcement Panel (the disciplinary tribunal) at Lloyd's of London. He is a Master of the Bench of the Middle Temple, where he is Master of the House.

The first major case he did was as Counsel appointed by the Department of Trade to the investigation under the Companies Acts of the Bank founded by John Stonehouse MP, who had faked his disappearance off a beach in Miami only to re-surface in Australia. Ian represented the DTI at the MP's trial at the Old Bailey and later interviewed him in Wormwood Scrubs prison before writing an (yet still unpublished) report for the Department on how to improve regulation of the Banking Industry. During that time, he was working in-house with Arthur Andersen & Co, where he formed a close working relationship with Ian Hay Davison. Many years later, it was to Ian that Hay Davison turned to successfully extricate him from the protracted DeLorean litigation in the United States.

In 1983, he was appointed Treasury Counsel to the Inland Revenue, a post he held for ten years while still continuing in private practice.

He has been instructed on the financial settlements of a number of significant divorces with international dimensions. He is a master of the ‘dark arts’ of damage limitation and reputation management.

Many of his clients nowadays tend to be those who have come away from other lawyers, disappointed. His philosophy is that he is not there to tell his clients that they cannot do what they want, rather to work out with them how it can be achieved.

In 2019, Ian acted with Jonathan Miller for the Deputy Treasurer of the Liberal Democrats on his challenge by way of Judicial Review to his Party’s reversal of an earlier decision to give preference to BAME candidates when selecting its list for the Euro elections. Their client was subsequently elected to the Parliament in Strasbourg as MEP for London.

Also this year, he represented Michael Hunt, who in 1993 had been convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to eight years imprisonment – the harshest penalty ever meted out to a UK tax offender. By reason of that conviction, Mr Hunt was refused the consent of the Gambling Commission to have any interest in the Health Lottery, a venture in which he had invested some £17 million. HMRC then refused to grant Mr Hunt relief for those losses against Capital Gains. Ian successfully appealed HMRC’s decision – a win that Taxation Magazine considered “surprising”.

Away from the Bar, he has worked as a director of an off-shore algorithmic Hedge Fund. He was for some years the Chairman of the Board of a contemporary art gallery in Cork Street and was picked by Cambridge University to chair its Development Appeal Group for Kettle's Yard. He was one of two distinguished art collectors chosen to be Selectors for the Discerning Eye exhibition held in the Mall Galleries in 2016.


He is a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals with particular expertise in cyber and the GDPR, and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers.

Notable Roles












Called to the Bar, Middle Temple (Harmsworth Scholar)

Department of Trade Inspection, London Capital Group Ltd

Standing Counsel to Inland Revenue

Queen’s Counsel

Chairman of Disciplinary

Tribunal (latterly Enforcement Panel),

Lloyd’s of London     



(Other roles)


Member, Justice Committee on Fraud Trials

Chairman, Art First Ltd – contemporary art gallery

Chairman, Development Appeal for Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge University


Past Master (2016-2017), Worshipful Company of Security Professionals



Liveryman Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers

Practice Areas


Commercial litigation

Data and the GDPR

Contentious and non-contentious tax

Business and financial law

Banking and financial services


Corporate restructuring

Civil fraud

Notable Cases 


Ian helped the Revenue to clean up a number of frauds and over-ambitious avoidance schemes but he has also negotiated settlements for taxpayers ranging from film stars to politicians, from pop stars to Princes.


Ian has also acted for:


Octav Botnar and Nissan UK, when they were under attack from Nissan Japan. Ian’s cross-disciplinary skills came to the fore - he covered the full spectrum of specialisations (tax, crime, company, commercial, arbitration, extradition, judicial review) and helped Botnar to direct a defensive wall of fire against the government agencies and political vested interests ranged against him


• the Financial Times against Jeffrey Archer


•British Airways in relation to their pension fund


• the BBC in a tortious conspiracy action

•Honeywell in relation to the Canary Wharf development

•TATA in a commercial shipping fraud

•Pinewood Studios over the fire on the James Bond set

•British Telecom in a string of Commercial Court trials and arbitrations,

ultimately getting secondary legislation through Westminster in time to negate the damage which might have been done to the business by a pending Judgment


•the Government in the Scott Inquiry, into the Matrix Churchill affair, representing the interests of Lord Trefgarne, who then disappeared below the Press radar


•clients who needed to discharge an injunction, which had been blocking the sale of their Zimbabwe game reserve to the Investment Corporation of Dubai

•a multi-national pharmaceutical group to deal with their tax problems in the UK, he went on to advise them on how to relocate warehousing facilities around Europe and on how to re-structure their companies, their Research and Development programme and their product profile generally


 Other recent notable cases:


•dealing with the recovery of a George Cross medal stolen in India and put up for auction in London. He later attended and spoke at the ceremony in Chandigarh, when the medal was returned to the winner's widow

•the recovery of paintings stolen from a government building in India and put up for auction in London

•the arbitration between the Mumbai manufacturer of a major brand of trainers (footwear) and their distributor in the Gulf

•a high profile and highly publicised, acrimonious solicitors' partnership dissolution

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Highgate School (Foundation Scholar)

BA Trinity College, Cambridge (Hooper Prizeman)


2010 - present

2010 - present