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HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

First-tier and Upper Tribunals: preparing for tribunal: categories of tribunal case


When the tribunal receives a notice of appeal or application it will allocate the case to one of the following categories (para 23(2) SI 273/2009)

  • Default Paper
  • Basic
  • Standard
  • Complex

Cases are allocated to categories in line with the tribunal Practice Direction specifying the types of case to be included in each category. But the tribunal may, at any time, decide to allocate the case to a different category. And HMRC or the customer can apply to the tribunal for the case to be allocated to a different category, if appropriate.

Default Paper cases are decided on the basis of paper submissions alone, see ARTG8360, although either the customer or HMRC may decide they want to ask for the case to be decided at a hearing with the parties present. The tribunal may also, on its own initiative, direct that a hearing takes place.

Basic, Standard and Complex cases are normally decided at a hearing. But either HMRC or the customer may ask for the case to be considered on the basis of the papers alone. If HMRC receives notice that a customer has asked for a case to be considered on the basis of the papers alone we should consider the application on its merits, and send our agreement or objections to the Tribunals Service as appropriate. The tribunal has the ultimate discretion over this.

The types of case normally within each category are set out below

Default Paper

  • appeals against

    • SA and CTSA fixed filing penalties
    • Employer end of year late return penalties
    • Construction industry late return penalties
    • Class 2 NIC late notification penalties
    • Income tax surcharges
  • applications for

    • penalties for failure to make a return (S93(3) TMA 1970)


The following are basic types of appeal or application provided the case does not fall within the Default Paper category.

The list below is how the tribunal will allocate cases, as set out in a published Practice Direction. But the tribunal may make any directions it thinks are appropriate to fairly dispose of a case.

For example, the Tribunal Service have indicated that some complex cases such as construction industry scheme gross status appeals may require more intensive procedures than provided for in the basic category.

  • appeals against

    • penalties for late filing and late payment, including daily penalties ;
    • penalties for incorrect returns (para 15 Sch 24 FA 2007), except appeals against penalties for deliberate action whether concealed or not, cases where an appeal is also brought against the assessment of the tax to which the return relates, and indirect tax cases.
    • penalties in indirect taxes where the customer appealing on the basis of reasonable excuse ;
    • decisions on construction industry scheme gross payment status (regulation 25(5) of the Income Tax (Construction Industry Scheme) Regulations 2005, and
    • information notices.
  • applications for

    • permission to make a late appeal
    • postponement of the payment of tax pending resolution of an appeal (including applications under s 55(3)(b) TMA 1970), and
    • a direction that HMRC close an enquiry (e.g. applications under s 28A(4) and para 7(5) Sch 1A TMA 1970 and para 33 Sch 18 FA 1998).


Cases not categorised as Default Paper, Basic or Complex by the tribunal.



  • that require lengthy or complex evidence or a lengthy hearing
  • involving a complex or important principle or issue
  • involving a large financial sum.