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HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

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HM Revenue & Customs
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First-tier and Upper Tribunals: Introduction: Tribunals

Tribunals are independent judicial bodies and cases may be heard either by legally qualified members, non-legal members, or a combination of both. Members of the tribunal are independently appointed office holders. The overriding objective of the tribunal is to deal with cases fairly and justly.

The administration of tribunals, for example making arrangements for hearings, is carried out by the Tribunals Service which is part of the Ministry of Justice.

Tribunals hearing tax appeals are part of a statutory two-tier structure, comprising the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal.

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, Wales and Northern Ireland for tax appeals and will also consider appeals in Scotland.

Appeals against 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.

Tax credits, child benefit and non-tax child trust fund appeals are considered by the Social Entitlement Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. Appeals against certain other decisions are also considered by the Social Entitlement Chamber, such as

  • a person’s entitlement to home responsibilities protection (DANSP25600), and
  • an employer’s entitlement to contract out of the State Earnings Related Pension scheme / State Second Pension scheme (DANSP25700), and
  • a person’s entitlement to a Guaranteed Minimum Pension (relates to pension schemes contracted out of the state scheme) (DANSP25700).

All other appeals against HMRC decisions are considered by the Tax Chamber of the new tribunal which was established on 1 April 2009.

It is the First-tier Tribunal which considers most appeals in the first instance. A small number of appeals categorised as Complex, see ARTG8060 and ARTG8350, may be heard by the Upper Tribunal in the first instance, where the parties agree and with the consent of the Chamber Presidents.