Milton Grundy, lawyer who pioneered offshore tax havens and philanthropist who set up a gallery in his own home for promising artists – obituary

Milton Grundy, who has died aged 96, proved a scourge of the Exchequer during a career as a leading tax lawyer during which he pioneered offshore tax havens and became the éminence grise of the tax planning industry; at the same time he was an aesthete, philanthropist and indefatigable patron of the arts.

In 1955 Grundy was a newly qualified barrister, surviving cases of dangerous driving and hire-purchase debts, when his father went into hospital for a routine operation that he was unable to survive. Grundy was the only son. Four years, 11 months and 20 days earlier, his father had gifted him the unquoted shares in the family engineering firm, James Grundy and Co. After five years, the gift would have been free from death duties; as it was, the Estate Duty Office sent Grundy a bill so large, he thought it was the telephone number. It was a move that would cost the Exchequer dear.

Abandoning any thoughts of becoming an engineering tycoon, Grundy went to a legal book shop in Chancery Lane in search of a simple treatise on small companies and estate duties. The sales assistant explained patronisingly that there were no simple books because it was not a simple subject. Grundy decided to write the book himself.

Tax Problems of the Family Company was published in 1956 and, while some welcome tax cases soon began to come Grundy’s way, the rest of his work disappeared because solicitors thought they could not afford a tax expert. Grundy’s career, as both tax adviser and author, was set.

James Milton Grundy was born in St Helens, Lancashire, on June 13 1926, to Edward Grundy and May (née Cobham). He was educated at Sedbergh School and went up to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1944, but after two wartime terms was called up for military service. This he spent in the Education Corps in Palestine, “doing a crash course in Marxism, chamber music and Hebrew”. He emerged with “presentable basic modern Hebrew and quite unpresentable soldier’s Arabic”.

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