Helen Ratcliffe

Senior Partner  |  BDB Pitmans

England and Wales


Tax and structuring for international families
Personal and estate planning
Residency and domiciliation

Enhanced Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

The sheer variety of work – moving between two Variation of Trust Act applications, a tax mediation with HMRC, a piece of difficult trust litigation, estate planning and other aspects for international families and individuals has been challenging and interesting.

How did you get into private client?

I loved tax and dealing with people. At Freshfields, I wanted to have a career which combined both of these and this career did that for me.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

I am not sure I can – if you like people and problem-solving, you will find your niche and everyone has their own style.

What is your favourite quote?

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tomb." George Eliot.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

My interests are my family, history and gardening at our house in France. I’m a church warden and a trustee of lots of charitable trusts outside of work.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

We missed having a large 40th wedding anniversary this year – so we are going to The Goring to celebrate.

What is the main area of growth you predict for the next 12 months?

Continuing increase of work on residence for individuals, trusts and companies both because of involuntary change (pandemic restrictions) and voluntary change (response to the pandemic), clients wishing to simplify affairs and to bring long-running projects to a conclusion (again a pandemic catalyst), and tax planning triggered by tax changes to meet the costs of the pandemic.

What do you think will be the biggest three challenges in your practice for the next 12 months?

Keeping in touch with clients, contacts and colleagues if remote working continues, then, if restrictions ease, balancing the team’s agile working wishes and needs with providing client services, and continuing to cope with tax and regulatory changes.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

You will never stop learning.