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HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

First-tier and Upper Tribunals: The tribunal hearing: Introduction

The tribunal will normally hold a hearing before making a decision unless

  • the matter falls within the Default Paper category and there has not been a request for a hearing, or
  • all parties have agreed that the matter can be decided without a hearing and the tribunal considers that it can decide the matter without a hearing, or
  • the matter relates to striking out of a case, or
  • the matter falls into one of the categories below.The tribunal will not normally hold a hearing to decide that their decision be

  • corrected, see ARTG8960
  • set aside, see ARTG8970
  • reviewed, see ARTG9010, or
  • to consider a request for permission to appeal against the tribunal’s decision, see ARTG8990 and ARTG9000.

Entitlement to attend the hearing All parties are entitled to attend the hearing unless

  • the hearing is on a matter where the respondent is not to be given notice of the hearing, for example an application under para 13 Schedule 36 FA 2008 (application for permission to inspect premises), or
  • the tribunal has directed that a party is to be excluded from the hearing. The tribunal will give all parties who are entitled to attend a hearing notice of the time and place of the hearing, see


Failure to attend the hearingIf either the customer or HMRC does not attend the hearing, the hearing can go ahead if the tribunal

  • is satisfied they were properly notified of the hearing or that reasonable steps were taken to notify them of the hearing, and
  • thinks it is in the interests of justice to proceed.

Hearings held in public and private All hearings will be held in public except where the tribunal gives a direction that the hearing, or part of it, is to be held in private. The tribunal can restrict access to the hearing if it thinks it is justified

  • in the interests of public order or national security
  • in order to protect a person’s right to respect for private and family life
  • in order to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information
  • in order to avoid serious harm to the public interest, or
  • because not to do so would prejudice the interests of justice.If all or part of the hearing is to be held in private, the tribunal can

  • decide who is permitted to attend all or part of the hearingIt may give a direction to exclude people from all or part of a hearing

  • any person who is disrupting, or is likely to disrupt, the hearing, or
  • any person it thinks may, by their presence, prevent another person from giving evidence or making submissions freely, or
  • any person who would defeat the purpose of the hearing by attending, or
  • a person under 18 years of age.It may give a direction that a witness should be excluded from the hearing until they give evidence.

Some applications that HMRC makes to the tribunal are ‘without notice’, which means that the customer is not informed of or entitled to attend the proceedings. In these cases the customer will not be given notice of the proceedings and the tribunal will decide on the matter without the customer being present. In these proceedings the tribunal must consider whether to give a direction that the hearing, or part of it, be held in private, see ARTG7530.

Upper TribunalThe Upper Tribunal may make any decision without a hearing. But it must consider any view expressed by a party whether to hold a hearing, and the form of any hearing.

And the Upper Tribunal can also decide to exclude from all or part of a hearing any person who it thinks should be excluded so that information is not disclosed to them.