Virusha Subban

Virusha Subban


Virusha is a partner and head of Indirect Tax in Baker McKenzie's Tax Practice Group in Johannesburg. She has over 20 years' experience in tax matters relating to customs, excise and international trade.

Practice Focus

Virusha runs a niche practice that is focused on customs, excise and international trade. This offering is primarily to large corporates, multinationals and state departments that come to her to solve their most complex cross-border indirect tax and trade concerns. Her expertise extends to export controls, dual-use, cross-border trade matters such as anti-dumping and other trade remedies, and a cradle-to-grave offering on all aspects of customs and excise.

Virusha's expertise includes all customs-related risks in the context of cross-border transactions in Africa. She also conducts customs reviews and health checks, and provides training to companies that wish to avert customs and excise risk. 

She has extensive experience in supply chain movement and trade remedies on the continent, having advised clients on cross-border movement of goods into Nigeria, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Eswatini, Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana.

Representative Legal Matters

Prior to joining the Firm:

  • Advised a client as lead lawyer that successfully challenged the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in a ZAR 1.5 billion+ excise dispute.
  • Advised and represented the Brazilian chicken export industry in an anti-dumping investigation into frozen chicken exports to Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
  • Advised and represented a client in obtaining a substantial reduction of a ZAR 1 billion customs penalty imposed by Namibian customs.
  • Advised the largest entity and industry group on the implementation of sugar tax in South Africa.
  • Advised the South African government on cross-border import regulatory and dumping issues.
  • Advised a US motor vehicle manufacturer on Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP) and Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) matters.

Baker McKenzie experience:

  • Advised and represented a multinational in the consumer goods and retail sector in a ZAR 1.8 billion+ customs valuation dispute.
  • Advised a large company on the implementation of carbon tax in South Africa.
  • Advised a US soda ash exporter in an anti-dumping sunset review in South Africa.

Professional Honors

  • Rated as Highly Regarded in Indirect Tax and Women in Tax, International Tax Review - World Tax (2020 and 2021)
  • Rated as a Leader in Indirect Tax, International Tax Review, South Africa (2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017) 
  • Rates as a Leader in Women in Tax, International Tax Review (2015 - 2017)
  • Winner of Client Choice Guide Award (2014 and 2015) in association with Lexology and International Law Office.
  • Ranked Band 2, Chambers Global, South Africa, Indirect Tax (2018, 2020 and 2021)
  • Ranked Band 3, Chambers Global, South Africa, Indirect Tax (2017)
  • Ranked Band 3, Legal 500, South Africa,Tax (2020 and 2021)
  • Recognised, Legal 500, (2018 and 2019)

One source described Virusha Subban as a "very competent hands-on lawyer," adding: "She provides an excellent service with the right balance of strong legal skills, tempered with a practical approach." She assists clients with customs and indirect tax-related issues, as well as answering queries on international trade.
Chambers Global, South Africa, Indirect Tax 2021

Virusha Subban is recognised as 'a customs expert', with additional knowledge of excise matters. She generally works with large corporate, multinationals and state departments. She is able to handle all customs-related risks arising from cross-border transactions. 
Chambers Global, South Africa, Tax 2020

Virusha Subban is 'very knowledgeable, experienced and a hands-on customs law practitioner'.
Legal 500 2019

Virusha Subban has considerable expertise in indirect tax matters, particularly in the customs and excise arena. She is acknowledged by clients and peers alike as being 'hands-on and very knowledgeable'.
Chambers Global 2018

Trade and customs expert Virusha Subban is ‘a fantastic lawyer’. 
Legal 500 2018

Widely admired as a 'very experienced' practitioner, Virusha Subban is acknowledged by peers for her competency in the 'very specialised area' of indirect tax. She is well regarded for her work in cross border trade matters. 
Chambers Global 2017

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Law Society of South Africa - Member


  • South Africa (2001)


  • University of Pretoria (Post Graduate Certificate in International Tax) (2007)
  • University of South Africa (LLM) (2004)
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal (BA, LLB) (1999)
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal (Bachelor of Law) (1996)