Monday 18 December 2017

Apple employs top law firm to help fight its legal war with EU over €13bn tax bill

Tim Cook said the tax announcement was 'maddening'
Tim Cook said the tax announcement was 'maddening'

Kalyeena Makortoff

Apple has instructed "magic circle" law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to help fight its legal war with the European Union over a €13 billion euro tax bill.

The tech giant will appeal against the EU Commission's claim that it secured unfair tax deals in Ireland that amounted to state aid, having paid 1% tax on its European profits in 2003 and 0.005% in 2014.

The appeals process means City-headquartered Freshfields will represent Apple first in the EU's General Court, and later in the Court of Justice if the initial appeal fails.

Ireland and Apple have just over two months to appeal.

Considering the length of cases brought by Starbucks and Fiat after similar tax deals with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the process could take anywhere between 18 months and three years before a definitive ruling is handed down from European courts.

Ireland's Department of Finance has confirmed that Philip Baker QC, a specialist lawyer in EU corporate tax law, will be representing the government if it goes ahead with its own appeal.

Apple refused to comment on its outside counsel.

Freshfields has notable experience working with Apple on other cases.

A partner at the firm represented the company in a recent patent claim against Samsung, which argued the Korean firm ripped off its iPad design while developing the Samsung Galaxy tablet.

While the patent claim failed, it will not be the end of the legal firm's partnership with Apple.

Alongside the EU tax appeal, Freshfields will reportedly go on to advise Apple in an upcoming antitrust case launched by the US Department of Justice over e-book price fixing.

In Europe, all eyes will be on upcoming rulings on the appeals launched by Starbucks and Fiat last year, which could set precedent for Apple's legal battle.

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