Apple drafts in Freshfields as it faces €13bn EU tax bill

Apple has instructed Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer as the European Commission orders it to pay up to €13bn (£11bn) in back taxes to Ireland.

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It is understood that Brussels competition partner Andreas von Bonin is part of the firm’s team representing Apple.

The EU Commission is turning to its in-house lawyers for its advice. Its legal services is led by director-general Luis Romero Requena.

After a three year investigation, the EU Commission concluded that Apple’s Irish tax benefits are illegal. Under EU law, national tax authorities are not permitted to give tax benefits to selected companies.

The Commission said Ireland enabled Apple to pay a significantly lower corporate tax rate than other businesses. The standard rate of Irish corporation tax is 12.5%. In 2014 Apple paid 0.005% tax on its European profits.

Ireland and Apple both said they disagreed with the ruling and that they would appeal against it.

Michael Noonan Ireland’s finance minister said in a statement: “I disagree profoundly with the Commission’s decision. Our tax system is founded on the strict application of the law without exception.”

He continued that appealing the decision is “necessary” in order to “defend the integrity of our tax system; to provide tax certainty to business; and to challenge the encroachment of EU state aid rules into the sovereign member state competence of taxation.”

It is not the first time that Apple has turned to Freshfields for legal advice. The firm also advised Apple on its unsuccessful design infringement claim against Samsung in 2012. The purpose of the claim was to block sales of Samsung’s Galaxy tablet model due to alleged similarities between the two designs.

 

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