Spotlight Special: Marina Warwick on Deoffshorization

17 February 2015
Author picture
Marina Warwick
Corporate and commercial lawyer at Alma Legal
TL: How did you first get into your practice area field?
MW: Having worked with large commercial law firms for most of my professional life, I have practised in various areas but, for the purposes of TaxLinked, I take your question to mean a query as to how I ended up 'offshore', in the Isle of Man, with a master's in international tax law and IP law.
Taking the ITL course taught by Professor Philip Baker QC and his illustrious colleagues was a conscious choice, as was my interest in intellectual property and Internet law in the new digital economy.  My enrolment at the LL.M. Programme at the LSE was a result of my winning the British Chevening Scholarship.
The decision to move to the Isle of Man, on the other hand, was driven by family reasons, and I had to become an Isle of Man advocate to be able to practice law at all: with a qualifying degree only from Russia (even if it is from MGIMO), I could not even register as a foreign legal practitioner to advise on the law of my country.  It was faster to qualify as an Isle of Man advocate and an English solicitor than to challenge local legislation. 
I was admitted to both Law Societies by early 2010, and by now I have my own practice, which is multi-jurisdictional, in that I advise on the laws of Russia, Isle of Man and England & Wales, which is of course UK-wide in the area of tax law. 
TL: What do you consider your biggest professional achievement to date?
MW: If measured by the amount at stake, it is probably successful completion of international arbitration proceedings for the parties of Sea Launch, which enabled the space project to go ahead.  This was, however, a relatively long time ago, and it is difficult to point to the 'biggest' achievement since then, if measured by different criteria.  If the number of challenges is the criterion, I have helped people set up, buy, sell and raise funds for various businesses, as well as solve various issues arising in companies and joint ventures, and buy and sell property tax-efficiently.  How much money did I save people by my advice?  Too bad so many of these matters are confidential.  Let's leave it to other people to decide which achievement is 'the biggest'.
TL: What are your thoughts on taxlinked’s first live event?
MW: So far, you have convinced quite impressive people to go on your panel of speakers, well done.
TL: During taxlinked’s first live panel event, you will be discussing deoffshorization with the rest of the panelists and our community members. Besides deoffshorization, are there any other hot topics you would like taxlinked to address in the future?
MW: Certainly.  Here is the first question: what future do you see for small financial centres such as the Isle of Man?  It is different from Luxembourg and Cyprus, of course, but international structures are not limited to one jurisdiction or tax treaty network.  If you get to see or deal with Isle of Man companies, trusts, funds or foundations, please tell me. 
TL: Tell us an interesting fact about yourself – it could be anything!
MW: Have you heard a 1970s hit song 'In the Avenues and Alleyways'?  It is written by my composer friend Mitch Murray and sung by his friend Tony Christie. I have translated it into Russian, having become sick of the pop radio content I suffered in Moscow taxis.  Russia needs a really good pop song, I thought. The tune is catchy enough for Russian taxi drivers, it just needs another remix.
All rights reserved, of course, as they can be protected worldwide from the Isle of Man, which is a member state (through the UK) of the Berne Convention and other major IP treaties. Watch this space!