Nuala Brice passed away peacefully on 21 May. She had a long and distinguished career in taxation law before retiring as judge of the Tax Tribunals (and of a number of other tribunals) in 2009.

Nuala Brice

Nuala Brice

Born Ann Nuala Connor in 1937, Nuala developed an ardent desire to become a lawyer as a teenager. She won a place at University College London to read law – making the journey from Manchester to Euston to join a class of undergraduates where women were in a small minority. There she met her future husband, Geoffrey Brice, forming a lifelong partnership with deep interests in the law. Geoffrey specialised in Admiralty law before his death in 1999, becoming a QC in 1979 and writing a leading textbook on salvage.

Having qualified as a solicitor in 1963, earning both the Stephen Heelis Gold Medal and John Peacock Conveyancing Prize, Nuala joined the Law Society as an assistant solicitor. Her career at the Society blossomed – earning a steady series of promotions culminating in her becoming assistant secretary general in 1987. She was secretary of the revenue law committee from 1972 to 1982.

Nuala earned her LLM at University College London in 1976 before embarking on a part-time PhD – ‘The tax treatment of the family unit’ – which she was awarded in 1982. Her work argued for, among other matters, independent taxation of husband and wife: this was ultimately introduced by Nigel Lawson in 1990 following a 1986 green paper.

Retiring from her last senior role at the Law Society in 1992, she became a part-time deputy special commissioner of income tax and part-time chairman of the VAT and Duties Tribunal, taking on full-time roles as a special commissioner and chairman of the VAT and Duties Tribunal in 1999. She became a judge of the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) and of the tax chamber of the First Tier Tribunal in 2009. She was also a chair of the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal; of the Pension Regulator Tribunal; and of the Claims Management Tribunal.

Her marriage to Geoffrey found them jointly working on academic endeavours – with both of them holding visiting positions in law in their separate disciplines: Nuala was appointed visiting associate professor of law at Tulane University in New Orleans; and visiting professor of law at the former University of Natal in South Africa.

She was awarded honorary fellowship of the Institute of Indirect Taxation in 2010; and in 2011 was awarded the OBE for services to the administration of justice.

Nuala’s illustrious career was underpinned by an incisive mind; a deep sense of fairness; highly grounded wisdom; and an unflappable demeanour of unfailing courtesy. A leading tax barrister has written that ‘she was a delight to appear in front of (even if the outcome didn’t always go my way!’).

Nuala is survived by her son Paul and her two grandchildren, Millie and Clare.