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Practice Summary

Jonathan Bremner QC specialises in tax. Described by Chambers and Partners as “Ferociously intelligent, enormously hard-working and very assured on his feet” and by Legal 500 as “unruffled when arguing multi-billion pound points”, his practice focuses on complex, substantial tax litigation and advisory work.

Jonathan acts for clients from a wide range of industry sectors, including large multinationals, major listed companies, owner-managed businesses and high-net worth individuals, as well as local and central government. 

Calm, incisive and forensic in his approach, Jonathan enjoys working collaboratively with clients and other professional advisers. 

Jonathan was appointed Queen’s Counsel in February 2018.  He was previously a member of the Attorney General’s “A” panel of Counsel (2016-18); listed in Tax Journal’s “40 under 40” survey (2015); and named Tax Junior of the Year by Chambers and Partners (2015). 

Recent cases include:

Corporate Tax

"Ferociously intelligent, enormously hard-working and very assured on his feet." "He's a very meticulous and very clever tax lawyer." (Chambers UK 2020 – Tax)

“Brilliant technical mind, strong common sense, admirable and experienced advocate.” (Legal 500 2020 – Corporate Tax)

“Superb both in terms of technical analysis and as an advocate.” “He is thorough and quick, and he works well in a team.” (Chambers UK 2019 - Tax)

“Unruffled when arguing multi-billion pound points.” (Legal 500 2019 – Corporate Tax)

 

VAT / indirect tax

"Responsive, coherent and clear in his advice." (Chambers UK 2020 – Indirect Tax)

“Brilliant technical mind, strong common sense, admirable and experienced advocate.” (Legal 500 2020 – VAT)

“His technical ability is very strong, his client-handling skills are excellent and he is commercially focused.” (Chambers UK 2019 – Indirect Tax)

“He is extremely clever, has a deep knowledge and understanding of tax.” (Legal 500 2019 - VAT)

EXAMPLES OF RECENT CASES

  • International Tax

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    Jonathan has a broad tax practice.  His recent focus has been on the following areas:

    • Irish Bank Resolution Corp v HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 1128; (also acted before the UT and FTT) acting for HMRC resisting Treaty-based challenge to capital attribution tax adjustment to the chargeable profits of the permanent establishment of an overseas bank (business profits article of the UK / Ireland double tax treaty; separate enterprise principle).
    • Royal Bank of Canada v HMRC [2020] UKFTT 267 (TC), 22 ITLR 747: appearing for HMRC in a substantial dispute concerning the tax treatment of profits relating to a North Sea oil field and the application of the immovable property article of the UK / Canada double tax treaty (on appeal to the UT).
    • Bloomberg Inc v HMRC [2018] UKFTT 205 (TC), [2018] SFTD 1079: appeared for HMRC successfully resisting high value claim for intangible fixed assets raising complex issues as to the interpretation of the business profits article of the US / UK double tax treaty. 
    • Advising a large FTSE 100 listed multinational in relation to deductibility and transfer pricing issues concerning a business restructuring.
    • Advising a well-known multinational in relation to a dispute concerning the interpretation of the business profits article of the UK / Germany double tax treaty.
    • Acting for a US technology company in a transfer pricing dispute before the Mauritian Assessment Review Committee.
    • Acting in a transfer pricing dispute concerning a major entertainment company.
    • Acting for AstraZeneca plc in a substantial dispute concerning the UK transfer pricing and CFC rules (settled shortly before the substantive hearing, listed for 14 weeks).
  • EU Tax Issues

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    Jonathan has significant, wide-ranging experience of issues concerning the compatibility of the UK tax code with EU law, having acted in numerous cases in the CFC and Dividend GLO, the Franked Investment Income GLO and related matters.  Recent work includes:

    • Appearing for the claimants in the Supreme Court in Prudential Assurance Company Ltd v HMRC [2018] UKSC, [2018] STC 1657 (the test case in the CFC and Dividend Group Litigation); also appeared before the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
    • Appearing for the claimants (British American Tobacco, Ford Motor Company and others) in Court of Appeal in Test Claimants in the Franked Investment Income Group Litigation v HMRC [2016] EWCA Civ 1180, [2017] STC 696 (on appeal to the Supreme Court, listed for December 2020).  Jonathan has acted in these exceptionally complex and high-value proceedings since 2013 including, in addition to the pending appeal before the Supreme Court and the ten day hearing before the Court of Appeal, the 16 day quantification trial in May/June 2014 ([2014] EWHC 4302 (Ch), [2015] STC 1471) and numerous interim applications (e.g. [2013] EWHC 3757 (pleadings); [2015] EWHC 2883 (Ch) (costs)).
    • Acting for Intercontinental Hotels Group in its successful claim to recover tax levied in breach of EU law: Six Continents Ltd v HMRC [2016] EWHC 2426 (Ch), [2017] STC 1228 (also acted in successful related interim payment application: [2015] EWHC 2884 (Ch)). 
    • Acting for seven multinational groups in substantial applications for summary judgment for restitution of corporation tax levied under the foreign income dividend regime in breach of EU law: Evonik Degussa UK Holdings Ltd and others v HMRC [2016] EWHC 86 (Ch)
    • Appearing in the Upper Tribunal for British American Tobacco in its challenge to the “restitution interest” tax provisions in Part 8C Corporation Tax Act 2010 (July 2018: BAT Industries plc v HMRC).
    • Appearing before the FTT for a global packaging group in successful claims for group relief: LINPAC Group Holdings Ltd v HMRC [2020] UKFTT 60 (TC), [2020] SFTD 575.
    • Appearing for HMRC before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-646/15 Trustees of the P Panayi Accumulation & Maintenance Settlements [2017] STC 2495 (appointment of non-resident trustees; compatibility of exit tax with EU law) and in subsequent proceedings before the FTT: [2019] UKFTT 622 (TCC), [2020] SFTD 209 (on appeal to the UT).
    • Acting for a well-known investment management company in a dispute concerning the tax treatment of cross-border dividends.
    • Advising a multinational group on claims to recover tax credits.
    • Acting in disputes concerning the compatibility of cross-border corporate exit charges with EU law.
  • Business and Corporate Tax

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    Jonathan frequently acts and advises in relation to a wide range of business and corporate tax issues.  Recent work has included:

    • Appearing before the Court of Appeal for companies in the FTSE 100 Smith & Nephew group in successful claims for £680m foreign exchange losses (HMRC v Smith & Nephew Overseas Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 299; also appeared before the FTT and UT);
    • Acting for a FTSE 250 multinational in a substantial dispute concerning the tax treatment of a group financing structure.
    • Appearing for HMRC before the Court of Appeal in Farnborough Airport Properties Company Ltd v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 118, [2019] STC 517 (successfully resisting claim for group relief following the appointment of administrative receiver).
    • Appearing before the FTT for a global packaging group in successful claims for group relief: LINPAC Group Holdings Ltd v HMRC [2020] UKFTT 60 (TC), [2020] SFTD 575.
    • Business structuring issues (e.g. advising a large FTSE 100 listed multinational as to deductibility and transfer pricing issues arising from a major business reorganisation). 
    • Acting for HMRC in a substantial dispute concerning the availability of capital allowances in relation to the construction of a nuclear decommissioning centre: Urenco Chemplants Ltd v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 522 (TC) (on appeal to the UT).
    • Acting in a test case concerning the availability of business premises renovation allowances (London Luton Hotel BPRA Fund LLP v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 212 (TC) (on appeal to the UT).
    • Acting in disputes concerning the deductibility of deferred revenue expenditure in relation to large refurbishment projects.
    • Advising in relation to substantial capital allowances claims.
    • Advising in relation to transfer pricing issues.
    • Advising in relation to company reconstructions (including clearance applications).
    • Acting in a high-value dispute relating to the tax treatment of film finance arrangements.
    • Appearing for HMRC before the Court of Appeal in a dispute concerning deductibility of share options granted to employees: HMRC v NCL Investments Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 663, [2020] STC 1201 (also appeared before the UT and FTT). 
    • Deductibility of trading losses (e.g. Beacon v HMRC [2018] UKFTT 104 (TC), [2018] SFTD 846).
    • Acting for HMRC in challenges to ship leasing arrangements. 
    • Partnership taxation (e.g. acting for the successful taxpayers in King v HMRC [2016] UKFTT 409 (TC), [2016] SFTD 1033).
    • Acting in judicial review proceedings concerning the chargeable gains treatment of disposals of a property portfolio by a property investment fund.
    • Acting and advising in tax warranty and indemnity disputes.
    • ty disputes.
  • Employment Tax

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    Jonathan has extensive experience of employment and personal tax issues.  Recent work has included:

    • Appearing before the Supreme Court in RFC (2012) PLC v HMRC [2017] UKSC 45, [2017] STC 1556 (the Rangers Football Club employee benefit trust litigation).  Jonathan acted in this long running dispute from 2010, appearing before the FTT and UT and assisting Scottish counsel in the Court of Session (Inner House).
    • Acting in disputes concerning employee remuneration structures established by a wide variety of employers.
    • Varied advisory work (frequently complex and high value) concerning the tax treatment of employee benefit trusts. 
    • Appearing for the taxpayer in Root2 Tax Limited v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 744 (TC) (spread betting contracts; employment income/NIC).
    • Advising in relation to tax issues arising from HMRC’s COVID-19 Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and Job Retention Scheme.
    • Appearing for HMRC before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-646/15 Trustees of the P Panayi Accumulation & Maintenance Settlements [2017] STC 2495 (trust taxation / exit taxes / EU law) and in subsequent proceedings before the FTT: [2019] UKFTT 622 (TCC), [2020] SFTD 209 (on appeal to the UT).
    • Acting for an investment banker in a dispute concerning the tax treatment of a substantial compensation payment (settled). 
    • Acting in tax-related judicial review proceedings concerning personal tax issues (e.g. amendments to partner returns; disclosure of tax avoidance schemes; accelerated payment notices).
  • Value Added Tax

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    Jonathan has extensive experience in VAT.  Recent work has included:

    • Appearing before the Court of Appeal in LIFE Services Ltd v HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 452, [2020] STC 898 (welfare exemption; also appeared before UT: [2017] UKUT 4849 (TCC) and [2019] UKUT 2, [2019] STC 419).
    • Appearing for the liquidators of MG Rover Group before the Court of Appeal in substantial litigation concerning the compatibility of the UK VAT grouping rules with EU law: MG Rover Group v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 485, [2019] STC 1134 (VAT grouping; also appeared before the UT and FTT).
    • Appearing before the Court of Appeal in Newey (trading as Ocean Finance) v HMRC [2018] EWCA Civ 791, [2018] STC 1054 (abuse of rights; also appeared before CJEU, UT and FTT (July 2019; decision awaited)).
    • Appearing before the Upper Tribunal in St Andrew’s College Bradfield v HMRC [2016] UKUT 491 (TCC), [2017] STC 83 (sporting exemption).
    • Appearing before the Supreme Court in Airtours Holidays Transport Ltd v HMRC [2016] UKSC 21, [2016] STC 1509 (third party consideration; also appeared before CA, UT and FTT).
    • Acting for a FTSE 100 multinational in a dispute as to the VAT treatment of its loyalty scheme.
    • Acting for a FTSE 100 multinational in LCIA arbitration proceedings concerning the VAT treatment of cross-border supplies and the application of tax indemnity provisions.
    • Advising a major healthcare group as to the scope and application of the welfare exemption.
    • Advising in relation to single/multiple supply and supply classification issues.
    • Acting for a housing association in a dispute concerning HMRC’s withdrawal of a VAT ruling.
    • Acting in a dispute concerning the VAT treatment of an investment platform.
    • Advising in relation to place of supply issues (including online businesses and electronically supplies services).
    • Advising in relation to input tax recovery and partial exemption issues.
    • Acting in High Court restitution claims raising issues relating to the Reemtsma principle.
  • SDLT and Other Duties

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    Jonathan regularly acts in cases involving duties.  Recent work has included:

    • Appearing before the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland in a substantial landfill tax dispute: Barr Environmental Ltd v Revenue Scotland (heard over three weeks in December 2019 and February-March 2020; decision awaited).
    • Appearing before the FTT in Hannover Leasing v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 262 (TC) (SDLT: section 75A FA 2003). 
    • Appearing before the Court of Appeal in Invicta Foods Ltd v HMRC [2018] EWCA Civ 2204 (customs duty; also acted before UT and FTT).
    • Advising casinos and online gaming providers on gaming duty and remote gaming duty issues.
    • Advising on customs classification issues.
    • Acting for HMRC resisting judicial review challenges to HMRC excise duty enforcement action.
  • Public Law (tax-related)

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    Jonathan regularly acts for taxpayers and for HMRC in judicial review and other proceedings relating to the public law validity of HMRC action.  Examples of recent work include:

    • Acting for a group of investment funds in judicial review proceedings challenging HMRC’s refusal to apply published guidance.
    • Acting in judicial review proceedings concerning the chargeable gains treatment of disposals of a property portfolio by an investment fund and the applicability of HMRC published guidance.
    • Acting in a dispute concerning HMRC’s decision to withdraw venture capital trust approval status for two well-known VCTs.
    • Acting in judicial review proceedings concerning the validity of amendments to partner tax returns.
    • Acting for a housing association in a dispute concerning HMRC’s withdrawal of a VAT ruling.
    • Acting in statutory appeal concerning public law validity of HMRC’s ability to withdraw binding tariff information: Invicta Foods Ltd v HMRC [2016] UKUT 1 (TCC) (also acted in FTT and CA).
    • Acting for HMRC successfully resisting Cart judicial review claim in respect of Upper Tribunal decision to refuse permission to appeal.
    • Acting in judicial review proceedings concerning the scope of the DOTAS regime.
    • Acting in judicial review proceedings concerning the validity of accelerated payment notices issued by HMRC.
    • Acting for HMRC resisting judicial review challenges to HMRC excise duty enforcement action.
  • Tax-related commercial disputes

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    Jonathan regularly acts for corporate and private clients in tax-related commercial disputes.  Examples of recent work include:

    • Acting and advising in relation to contractual tax warranty and indemnity claims arising under share purchase agreements.
    • Acting for a FTSE100 multinational in LCIA arbitration proceedings concerning the VAT treatment of cross-border supplies and the construction of tax indemnity provisions.
    • Advising in relation to the construction of tax indemnity provisions in employee benefit trust deeds.
    • Acting in High Court proceedings concerning tax indemnities for Swiss VAT: Kuoni Travel Ltd v Boyle [2013] EWHC 877 (QB).
    • Acting in proceedings between customers and suppliers for restitution of overcharged VAT.
    • Acting in Mehjoo v Harben Barker [2014] EWCA Civ 358, [2014] STC 1470 (also acted in High Court) – professional negligence; duty to refer.
    • Advising in relation to tax-related professional negligence claims. 
  • Notable Cases

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    Supreme Court

     

    Prudential Assurance Co Ltd v HMRC [2018] UKSC 39, [2018] STC 1657 (also acted in High Court and Court of Appeal) – corporate tax; EU law; restitution; remedies; quantification; test case in the CFC and Dividend GLO

    RFC (2012) PLC v HMRC [2017] UKSC 45, [2017] STC 1556 (also appeared before FTT and UT; assisted Scottish counsel in the Inner House of the Court of Session) – employee benefit trusts; employment income / NIC

    Airtours Holidays Transport Ltd v HMRC [2016] STC 1509 (SC) (also acted in CA, UT and FTT) – VAT; input tax recovery; tripartite arrangements

     

    Court of Appeal

     

    Irish Bank Resolution Corp v HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 1128 (also acted in UT and FTT) – corporate tax; permanent establishments; double taxation agreements

    LIFE Services Ltd v HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 452, [2020] STC 898 (also acted in UT: [2017] UKUT 484 (TCC), [2019] UKUT 2, [2019] STC 419) – VAT; welfare exemption

    MG Rover Group v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 485, [2019] STC 1134 (acting for MG Rover Group Ltd; also acted in UT and FTT) – VAT; grouping

    Farnborough Airport Properties Company v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 118 (also acted in UT and FTT) – corporate tax; group relief

    Invicta Foods Ltd v HMRC [2018] EWCA Civ 2204 (also acted in UT and FTT) – customs duty

    HMRC v Newey (t/a Ocean Finance) [2018] EWCA Civ 791, [2018] STC 1054 – VAT; abuse of rights (also acted in CJEU, UT and FTT (July 2019; decision awaited))

    HMRC v Test Claimants in the Franked Investment Income Group Litigation [2016] EWCA Civ 1180, [2017] STC 696 – corporate tax; EU law; restitution; remedies; quantification (also acted in High Court: e.g. [2014] EWHC 4302, [2015] STC 1471 (16 day quantification trial); [2013] EWHC 3757 (Ch) (pleadings); [2015] EWHC 2883 (Ch) (costs)) (on appeal to the Supreme Court)

    Leeds City Council v HMRC [2015] EWCA Civ 1293 (also acted in UT) – VAT; limitation periods

    Isle of Wight Council v HMRC [2015] EWCA Civ 1303, [2016] STC 2152 (also acted in UT and FTT) – VAT; special legal regime; distortion of competition

    Mehjoo v Harben Barker [2014] EWCA Civ 358, [2014] STC 1470 (also acted in High Court) – professional negligence

    Aspinalls Club Ltd v HMRC [2014] STC 602 (also acted in UT and FTT) – gaming duty; banker’s profits

    HMRC v London Clubs Management Ltd [2012] STC 388 (also acted in UT) – VAT; partial exemption

    Brunel Motor Co Ltd v HMRC [2009] STC 1146 (also acted in High Court, UT and FTT) – VAT; credit notes

    Midlands Co-operative Society v HMRC [2008] STC 1803 – VAT; validity of assignment of section 80 repayment claim

     

    High Court

     

    Six Continents Limited v HMRC [2016] EWHC 2426 (Ch) – corporate tax; EU law; remedies (also acted in related interim payment application: [2015] EWHC 2884 (Ch))

    Evonik Degussa UK Holdings Ltd v HMRC [2016] EWHC 86 (Ch) – corporate tax; EU law; summary judgment

    The Prudential Assurance Company v HMRC [2015] EWHC 118 (Ch) – corporate tax; EU law; remedies; Mr Justice Henderson noted that: “Prudential was represented at the hearing by junior counsel alone, Mr Jonathan Bremner, who performed his task with conspicuous ability” (Judgment para 7).

    Test Claimants in the FII Group Litigation v HMRC – [2014] EWHC 4302 (Ch), [2015] STC 1471 – corporate tax; EU law; restitution; remedies; quantification (see also [2013] EWHC 3757 (Ch) (pleadings); [2015] EWHC 2883 (Ch) (costs))

    Kuoni Travel Ltd v Boyle [2013] EWHC 877 (QB) – tax indemnities

     

    Upper Tribunal

     

    BAT Industries plc v HMRC (stayed part-heard, July 2018) – restitution interest; challenge to Part 8C Corporation Tax Act 2010

    Clavis Liberty Fund 1 LP v HMRC [2017] UKUT 418 (TCC), [2017] STC 2392 (also acted in FTT) – income tax; partnerships; trading; tax avoidance

    A-Dec Dental UK Ltd v HMRC [2017] UKUT 342 (TCC) – customs classification (also acted in FTT)

    The Brain Disorders Research Limited Partnership v HMRC [2017] UKUT 176 (TCC), [2017] STC 1170 – research and development allowances; loss relief; tax avoidance

    St Andrew’s College Bradfield v HMRC [2016] UKUT 491 (TCC), [2017] STC 83 – VAT; sporting exemption

    Manduca v HMRC [2015] UKUT 262 (TCC), [2015] STC 2002 – income tax; commission payment

    Market & Opinion Research International Ltd v HMRC [2015] UKUT 12 (TCC), [2015] STC1205 – costs

    Butlers Ship Stores v HMRC [2013] UKUT 564 (TCC), [2014] STC 732 – excise duty; proportionality; legal certainty

    Enterprise Inns plc v HMRC [2012] UKUT 240 (TCC), [2012] STC 2313 – VAT; attribution of consideration

    JD Wetherspoon plc v HMRC [2012] UKUT 42 (TCC), [2012] STC 1450 – corporate tax; capital allowances

    HMRC v Moorbury Ltd [2010] UKUT 360 (TCC), [2010] STC 2715 (also acted in FTT) – VAT; abuse of rights

     

    First-tier Tribunal (or equivalent)

     

    Royal Bank of Canada v HMRC [2020] UKFTT 267 (TC), 22 ITLR 747 – oil taxation; double tax treaties (immovable property)

    HMRC v Newey (trading as Ocean Finance) (July 2019, FTT; also appeared before CJEU, CA and UT) – VAT; abuse of rights

    LINPAC Group Holdings Ltd v HMRC [2020] UKFTT 60, [2020] SFTD 575 – claims for cross-border group relief

    Panayi v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 622 (TCC), [2020] SFTD 209 (also appeared before CJEU) – capital gains tax; compatibility of exit charge on trusts with EU law (on appeal to the UT)

    Urenco Chemplants Ltd v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 522 (TC)

    Beacon v HMRC [2018] UKFTT 104 (TC), [2018] SFTD 846 – income tax; trading losses

    Hannover Leasing v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 262 (TC) – SDLT; section 75A; tax avoidance

    King and others v HMRC [2016] UKFTT 409 (TC) – income tax; partnerships,

    Grindley and others v HMRC [2016] UKFTT 384 (TC) – procedure; strike out

    French Education Property Trust v HMRC [2015] UKFTT 620 (TC) – VAT; economic activity

    Gemsupa Ltd v HMRC [2015] UKFTT 97 (TC), [2015] SFTD 447 – corporate tax; chargeable gains groups

    Goals Soccer Centres plc v HMRC [2012] UKFTT 576 (TC) – VAT; supply classification

    Boyer Allan Investment Services Ltd v HMRC [2013] SFTD 73 – corporate tax; employee benefit trusts; prevailing practice

    Chain Telecommunications plc v HMRC [2012] UKFTT 330 (TC) – VAT; input tax recovery; third party consideration

    McLaughlin v HMRC [2012] SFTD 1003 – capital gains tax

    Swallow v HMRC [2010] UKFTT 473 (TC) – related civil/criminal proceedings – tribunal procedure

    The British Association for Shooting and Conservation Ltd v HMRC [2010] SFTD 993 – VAT; sporting exemption

    West Country Vending Ltd v HMRC [2010] UKFTT 124 (TC) – VAT; zero rating

    Sempra Metals Ltd v HMRC [2008] STC (SCD) 1062 – corporate tax; employment income; NIC; employee benefit trusts

    Camden Motors Ltd v HMRC [2008] UKVAT V20674 – VAT; partial exemption

    Barclays Bank Plc v HMRC [2008] UKVAT V20528 – VAT; financial services exemption

     

    Court of Justice of the European Union

     

    Trustees of the P Panayi Accumulation & Maintenance Settlements (Case C-646/15) [2017] 1 STC 2495 (also appeared before FTT) – capital gains tax; appointment of non-resident trustees; exit charge; compatibility with EU law

    HMRC v Newey (trading as Ocean Finance) (Case C-653/11) [2013] STC 2432 (also appeared before CA, UT and FTT (July 2019)) – VAT; abuse of rights

Education

Hertford College, University of Oxford – BA (First Class), BCL (Distinction)
University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas) – Certificat Supérieur de Droit Français (Mention Bien)