Big Four

Matalan founder sues PwC over ‘misguided’ tax advice

PwC is reportedly being sued by the founder of Matalan over “misguided” tax advice.

John Hargreaves, who set up the business in 1975, alleges the firm failed to give him correct guidance following his move to Monaco, leaving him with substantial tax liabilities for which he was pursued by HMRC.

According to the Financial Times, Hargreaves claims the accountancy giant was “negligent” when advising him on his relocation, and said he had followed advice by the firm on how to relocate to Monaco, resulting in shares in his company worth £237m being sold in one bulk transaction.

However, the sale reportedly led to a “lengthy legal battle” with HMRC, which later ruled that Hargreaves had not effectively given up his status as a resident of the UK. 

As such Hargreaves was ordered to pay £35m to HMRC in 2018 and it continues to seek a further £135m. 


FT’s report claims that Hargreaves first launched action against PwC in 2013. However, the claim was postponed during the legal battle with HMRC, but was brought up again this week during the hearing in High Court. 

A spokesperson for PwC said: “We believe this claim will ultimately fail and are seeking to strike out aspects of the claim.”

Accountancy Today has contacted Matalan for comment. 

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