The Human Rights Act and Penalties: King v UK
Mr King appealed to the High Court against interest and penalty determinations. The Court dismissed the appeals (King v Walden 74TC45) and also refused him leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Mr King therefore took his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg (King v UK ECtHR 13381/2004). The ECtHR gave its decision in November 2004.
In brief, the Courts
- found that HMRC penalties under TMA70/S95 for negligence were criminal for the purposes of Article 6 of the ECHR
- criticised HMRC for a number of delays including a 9 month delay in making the penalty determination, and
- held that Mr King’s Article 6 rights had been breached as he had been denied a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time.
However, the penalties were upheld. The Court found that there was no direct link between Mr King’s liability to the penalties and the delays. Their view was that it would not be appropriate to stay or dismiss the penalty proceedings unless
- there could no longer be a fair hearing, and
- it would otherwise be unfair to try the case.
There is a summary of the European Court’s decision in King v UK at TCR39/04.