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HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

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First-tier and Upper Tribunals: Preparing for tribunal: Role of tribunals caseworker

General

Tribunals caseworkers deal with the preparation and presentation of most tribunal cases. They will usually sit within Solicitor’s Office (indirect taxes and restoration decisions) or Appeals Units (direct taxes where the business area has one or more Appeals Units), see ARTG4320.

In smaller direct tax business units caseworkers will belong to the business unit review team. Except for some very small specialist business units, the tribunals caseworker will be outside the line management chain of the decision maker.

Preparation of case for tribunal

Once the tribunals caseworker receives details of the appeal from the Clearing House, they should obtain the case papers from the decision maker and, if a review has been carried out, the review officer.

They must then consider the papers, liaise with the decision maker and/or the review officer and other stakeholders including technical and policy specialists where appropriate. They will also obtain case specific legal advice, particularly about the conduct of the litigation, from Solicitor’s Office if necessary.

If any of the advice needed could have wider application, the relevant technical and/or policy advisers must be consulted first. And if there is any indication that the customer may be subject to criminal investigation they should contact Criminal Investigation immediately for advice on how to proceed.

It is possible that the tribunals caseworker may ask the decision maker to carry out further work or to provide further information before accepting a case. For example they may ask the decision maker to submit the case to a policy or technical specialist for advice.

Or if it is clear from the papers provided that a specialist office or a policy/technical specialist is taking the lead in the case the tribunals caseworker will liaise with the specialist and decide who will be responsible for preparing and presenting the case at tribunal.

Preparation of case for tribunal - direct taxes

Once the customer has notified an appeal to the tribunal the case will be handled by a tribunals caseworker. The tribunals caseworker (in consultation with the decision maker, policy/technical specialists and Solicitor’s Office as appropriate) will decide, in line with the Litigation and Settlement Strategy, see ARTG1020, whether the case should be defended before the tribunal.

If the tribunals caseworker decides that HMRC should not defend the case at tribunal see ARTG8420.

Where the tribunals caseworker decides the decision should be defended at tribunal they will prepare and present the case at tribunal, liaising as necessary with Solicitor’s Office.

Preparation of case for tribunal - indirect taxes

The tribunals caseworker (in consultation with the decision maker, policy/technical specialists and other interested parties such as the Solicitor’s Office, as appropriate) will decide, in line with the Litigation and Settlement Strategy, see ARTG1020, whether the case should be defended before the tribunal. If the tribunals caseworker decides that HMRC should not defend the case at tribunal see ARTG8420.

Presentation of case at tribunal - direct taxes

In a small number of very complicated appeals the tribunals caseworker, in consultation with other stakeholders, may consider that legal representation is needed. This should be agreed with Solicitor’s Office. If necessary Solicitor’s Office will appoint counsel to present HMRC’s case, see ARTG8410.

Most applications to the tribunal will be presented by the decision maker. But in complicated cases the application may be presented by a tribunals caseworker.

Presentation of case at tribunal - indirect taxes

In a small number of appeals defined in ARTG3170, the tribunals caseworker, in consultation with other stakeholders, may consider that legal representation is needed. This should be agreed with Solicitor’s Office. It is necessary Solicitor’s Office will appoint counsel to present HMRC’s case, see ARTG8410.

Direct and indirect taxes - liaison between decision makers and tribunal caseworkers

Usually the tribunals caseworker (direct taxes) or the officer instructing Solicitor’s Office (indirect taxes) will be considered the case owner for the purposes of the Litigation and Settlement Strategy.

However, it may be clear from the papers that a specialist office or a policy/technical specialist is taking the lead in the case. Where this happens it is important that the tribunals caseworker liaises with the specialist and that they decide who the case owner is and who will be responsible for making decisions about the conduct of the litigation.

In preparing the case for tribunal the tribunals caseworker/Solicitor’s Office must act in line with HMRC’s Litigation and Settlement Strategy, ARTG1020.

If the tribunals caseworker decides that HMRC should defend the case at tribunal they should liaise with the decision maker (and the review officer, policy and technical specialists, and Solicitor’s Office if appropriate).

The amount of contact will vary depending on the case, but for example it may be appropriate for the tribunals caseworker to seek comments on

  • the arguments to be put forward,
  • obtaining witness statements etc
  • whether or not solicitor’s or counsel’s advice or representation may be needed.

They should also make sure that

  • all the relevant parties are aware of the hearing date, and
  • know whether they are required to appear as a witness.

The tribunals caseworker should always make clear in communications what the deadlines involved are and the consequences of non-compliance.

If the decision maker (or anyone else) is approached by the tribunals caseworker for information they should make every effort to reply within the deadline or tell the tribunals caseworker that they are unable to meet the deadline, to avoid delaying the statement of case or hearing.

If possible the tribunals caseworker should approach the tribunal to ask for any necessary extensions of time, but this should be a last resort. Similarly, if the decision maker or any other stakeholder receives any information that might affect the case they should bring it to the tribunals caseworker’s attention immediately.

The tribunals caseworker should keep the decision maker and other departmental stakeholders informed of progress as appropriate.

Outcome of tribunal

The tribunals caseworker is responsible for reviewing the outcome of the tribunal hearing and liaising with interested parties (for example the decision maker, review officer if appropriate, policy, technical specialists, Solicitor’s Office) in order for a decision to be made as to whether the case should be pursued to