Ian Mayes QC

Year of Call 1974
Year of Silk 1993

General Profile

Ian was elected Head of Chambers in 2017


He has been in practice as a barrister for more than 40 years. He 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 and Chairman of the Temple Church.


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at the MP's trial at the Old Bailey and later interviewed him in Wormwood Scrubs prison before writing an (as yet still unpublished) report for the Department on how to improve regulation of the Banking Industry.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.


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 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 civil aspects of an alcohol excise duty and VAT fraud, heard in the First-tier and Upper Tribunals (Tax). HMRC chose not to pursue substantial claims against his clients rather than expose their primary statutory powers (to make an assessment and put the burden of proof on the taxpayer to show the contrary) to a challenge in the European Court


  • 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



Areas of Emphasis


Commercial litigation

Data and the GDPR

Contentious and non-contentious tax

Business and financial law

Banking and financial services


Corporate restructuring

Civil fraud


Career and Associations


Highgate School (Foundation Scholar)

BA Trinity College, Cambridge (Hooper Prizeman)


1974          Called to the Bar, Middle Temple (Harmsworth Scholar)

1975 – 77  Department of Trade Inspection, London Capital Group Ltd

1983 – 93  Standing Counsel to Inland Revenue

1993          Queen’s Counsel

1993          Chairman of Disciplinary Tribunal (latterly Enforcement Panel),

                   Lloyd’s of London                                               

2000           Recorder


Member, Justice Committee on Fraud Trials

Chairman, Art First Ltd – contemporary art gallery

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

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

Liveryman, Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers


Privacy notice

Ian collects, uses and is responsible for your personal information collected during the course of providing legal services as a barrister. He is the data controller in respect of this information for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation.

The members of Enterprise Chambers have a privacy policy which sets out what information they obtain about you, why and how they use it.  This policy also sets out your rights.  Members also have a data retention policy which sets out how long they keep information for and why.

You can download copies of these policies here: (1) privacy policy (2) data retention policy .  Hard copies are available on request by contacting any branch of Enterprise Chambers.