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Stephen Woodhouse


After studying law at Leicester University and a career in the City of London spanning 30 years Stephen joined Pett Franklin as the third partner in the team on 1st December 2013.

Details of the announcement relating to his joining our team can be found here. While practising in the City, Stephen trained at Slaughter and May working in their tax department for seven years after qualifying across a range of tax matters but particularly on employee share schemes. From there he joined Norton Rose to assist with building their employee share scheme practice. He joined Touche Ross (later, Deloitte LLP) in 1994 becoming a partner in 1999 until leaving Deloitte to join us on 1st December 2013.

Throughout his career, Stephen has advised on tax with particular emphasis on employee share schemes and related remuneration issues, including share valuation issues through his share scheme practice and time spent managing the share valuation team at Deloitte. He has advised on both domestic and international issues and become an acknowledged expert on employee benefit trusts in their many different guises, both as an adjunct to the operation of employee share schemes as through their wider use to deliver cash based benefits to senior employees, a vehicle to facilitate employee ownership and as part of the succession and exit planning for privately owned companies.

Consistently with this, he has advised many companies and individual beneficiaries in relation to employee benefit trusts and settlements with HMRC (for more details, click here).

In addition, he has advised extensively on pension planning, particularly for plans to top up the benefits allowed under HMRC registered plans. This includes plans designed consistently with the requirements of the relevant legislation to permit the building up of pension benefits for senior executives in excess of the annual allowance for tax protected pension accrual and the lifetime allowance for tax protected benefits under UK registered plans. He believes that this will be an important area for focus in remuneration and benefits design as the lack of any index linking for registered plan limits mean that the real value of those benefits will erode over time.

Also, the moves by Government to encourage employee ownership mean that it is an interesting time to be returning to legal practice, particularly working with the Pett Franklin team. The moves to encourage wider ownership encouraged by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, supported by the work of David Pett and the efforts of the Employee Ownership Association (for more details, click here) should result in a substantial move to employee ownership extending far beyond the reach of conventional employee share schemes.

As a leading adviser, Stephen speaks regularly at conferences and publishes in the tax press, being a regular contributor to Tolley’s Tax Planning (for more details, click here) and a range of articles and other publications. He also co-authored a textbook on The Taxation of Pension Schemes and worked with the Goode Committee on Pension Law Reform.

Outside his tax practice, Stephen has a range of interests. In particular, since returning to the Midlands, he has recommenced a chess career, playing for Worcestershire and various competitions. Stephen is also a Non-Executive Director for the English Chess Federation