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HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

Restoration decisions: Arranging for a review: Carrying out the review

GeneralThe role of the review officer is not to defend the disputed decision, but to consider the decision or assessment and the surrounding information objectively. More information on the role of the review officer is at


When reviewing the case the review officer should

  • make sure that they have all the relevant information

including all the case papers and representations from the customer, and possibly including evidence from third parties

  • check that the decision is legally and technically valid

including, where appropriate

* making an early decision about whether further advice is needed, and seeking and reviewing that advice as soon as possible
* checking that confidentiality has not been breached
* any surveillance carried out has been properly authorised
* actions were taken within any specified time limit

Some of these factors may not, in themselves, necessarily mean that a decision was not valid, depending on the particular circumstances of the case. For example where confidentiality has been breached or surveillance rules not followed. But they are all factors which may influence the validity of the decision.

  • consider all the facts critically

by thoroughly reviewing the case papers and customer representations and checking anything that is unclear

  • consider the customer’s case

including asking whether we have taken enough account of the customer’s arguments? As well as checking the facts and considering whether the arguments are supportable in law, the review officer should identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case. If the review officer finds that they agree with the customer, they should say so in their conclusion of review letter and close the case

  • consult

including discussing the case with the decision maker, or seeking further specialist advice from accountancy, technical or other specialists, such as Solicitor’s Office. It will not be necessary in every case to seek legal advice. But where the review officer thinks that legal advice may be appropriate in the circumstances of the case, they should approach the relevant technical specialist in the first instance (but see ‘Nature and extent of review’ below). The specialist will agree with the review officer whether legal advice is necessary and who should make the referral

  • consider talking to the customer

as this could clear up areas of confusion, and a phone call or meeting could clarify the matter. But the customer does not have to agree to meet the review officer.
The review officer will need to take account of all relevant information provided, if appropriate arranging further contact with/between stakeholders to reach their final review conclusions. If the review officer submits the case to specialists for advice they must be aware of the time limit for completing the review.

Customer provides new informationIf the customer provides new information during the review, see