A Scottish law firm has signed an innovative partnership deal with a world-leading Canadian company to provide specialist tax advice to businesses undertaking research and development.
Davidson Chalmers linked up with Stonecracker after the Law Society of Scotland helped to identify a suitable partner following an enquiry from the Calgary-based law firm.
Stonecracker Scientific Legal Network is believed to be the only firm in the world working exclusively in the specialist field of R&D tax credits. It has many years of experience in Canada, whose R&D tax credit legislation was the model for the UK. Its aim is turn R&D “dreams into reality” by helping firms to recover tax costs from the government, by offering advice, filing claims and defending cases.
Craig Stirling, a partner in the corporate team at Davidson Chalmers, said the sector had previously been the preserve of the large accountancy firms because of the level of technical and scientific expertise needed, in addition to tax and legal skills.
He explained: “Our arrangement with Stonecracker offers us full access to their own technical and scientific advisers, whose input is essential for complex claims in this area. The lack of the requisite scientific and technical expertise has previously served as a barrier, effectively preventing law firms and most small to medium-sized accountancy firms from operating in this area. It is only by entering into this contractual joint venture arrangement with Stonecracker that we are now able to offer these services to clients in Scotland.”
After an approach from Stonecracker, Scottish Development International put the firm in touch with the Law Society of Scotland, as it was able to advise on regulatory issues and approach its members.
A number of legal firms who met criteria outlined by Stonecracker were contacted and staff from Canada came to Scotland to meet three interested parties. After a face-to-face meeting and subsequent conference calls, Stonecracker decided to move forward with Davidson Chalmers.
“Having reached the conclusion ourselves that this was something that we definitely wanted to be part of, we were delighted to move forward to the contractual stage,” said Mr Stirling. “The joint venture with Stonecracker affords us an excellent opportunity to expand upon the range of specialisms already offered by the firm to provide advice on R&D tax credits. The advice which we will now be able to provide to clients engaged in R&D activity is complementary to the advice we are already providing such clients in relation to such matters as protecting and exploiting their intellectual property, corporate structure, funding and so on.”
Stonecracker works with companies in a range of sectors including aerospace, biotech and pharmaceuticals, ICT, manufacturing and oil and gas.
Kimberley Van Vliet, Director of Corporate Development at Stonecracker, said: “Coming to Scotland, made absolute sense with the quantity of research and development being performed in the different regions. We also wanted to educate solicitors on the process to aid these companies in claiming their R&D Tax Credits. This allows firms in Scotland to diversify their legal practice, which in this economy is a necessity.
“The Law Society of Scotland was instrumental in helping us connect with law firms in Scotland, and specifically Davidson Chalmers, by understanding the nature of our practice, and thus applying those characteristics to their search to determine which law firm would be best suited to work with us. Specifically, the Law Society sat down with us to get a good sense of what we were looking for in a firm.
Neil Stevenson, Director of Representation and Professional Support at the Law Society, said: “We were glad to be able to help bring about a genuinely innovative partnership which adds a new dimension to legal advice offered in this area. We advised on regulation, but were also able to help in the first stages of sourcing a partner – before stepping back and allowing Stonecracker to make a commercial decision.”
20 May 2010