As part of a wider programme of tribunal reform led by the Tribunals Service of the Ministry of Justice, the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (“TCEA”) created a new tribunal system to replace some 70 tribunals dealing with a wide range of matters.
TCEA put in place a framework for a new two-tier tribunal system with specialist Chambers handling particular types of appeal.
From 1 April 2009 one of these, the Tax Chamber, brings together matters previously heard by the General and Special Commissioners, the VAT & Duties Tribunal and the Section 704 ITA 2007 and Section 706 ICTA 1988 tribunals.
Tax credits, child benefit and non-tax child trust fund appeals were transferred to the Social Entitlement Chamber of the new tribunal on 3 November 2008. Tax credit appeals will transfer into the Tax Chamber once the reforms have bedded down.
The new tribunal system consists of two tiers
- the First-tier Tribunal, and
- the Upper Tribunal.
The First-tier Tribunal hears most appeals in the first instance. Decisions of the First-tier Tribunal may be appealed to the Upper Tribunal on a point of law if the First-tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal gives permission (or leave, in Northern Ireland). The Upper Tribunal replaced the High Court in England and Wales for tax appeals and will also consider appeals in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Appeals against the decisions of the Upper Tribunal are made to the relevant appellate court on point of law and with permission (or leave, in Northern Ireland) from the Upper Tribunal or relevant appellate court. The relevant appellate court is the Court of Appeal in England and Wales, the Court of Session in Scotland, and the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.
A small number of appeals may be heard by the Upper Tribunal in the first instance. These will be appeals falling within the Complex category of tribunal case see ARTG8350, where the parties agree and with the consent of the President of the Tax Chamber and of the President of the Finance and Tax Chamber in the Upper Tribunal.
From 1 April 2009, at the same time as appeals against HMRC tax decisions transferred into the Tax Chamber, HMRC introduced a new statutory review process; see ARTG4000 onwards for appealable tax decisions, with the aim of resolving disputes more quickly and cost- effectively.
As well as appeals, applications formerly made to the previous tax tribunals are made to the new tribunal, see ARTG8000.
The Tax Chamber has been in operation since 1 April 2009; the Social Entitlement Chamber has been in operation since 3 November 2008. This guidance applies with effect from 1 April 2009.