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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Litigation and settlement strategy: overview

The Litigation and Settlement Strategy (LSS) is the framework within which we

  • undertake compliance activity through civil procedures and
  • seek to resolve disputes that arise as a result.

A dispute is when HMRC and the person we are dealing with, or their agent, disagree about an issue.

The LSS applies to disputes with

  • individuals
  • partnerships
  • companies
  • trusts
  • other legal entities (charities, executors, liquidators and so on).

Most disputes can be settled by agreement when the facts have been established and the possible views presented, considered and discussed. However, a small number of disputes cannot be settled in this way and for those cases we may need to consider litigation.

Litigation refers to taking appeals or other areas of dispute through a formal judicial process involving the tribunals and the courts.

The LSS helps us to decide

  • whether we should pursue a dispute,
  • how we should handle it, and
  • how we should resolve it.

The guidance that follows expands on these points. For more guidance on

  • the purpose and scope of LSS, see CH40300 
  • what a dispute is, see CH40400 
  • minimising the scope for a dispute, see CH40500 
  • deciding whether to pursue a dispute, see CH40600 
  • handling a dispute, see CH40700, and
  • resolving a dispute, see CH40800.

The full text of the Litigation and Settlement Strategy is at CH40350.

Where relevant, other manuals contain more detailed guidance about the key points in a compliance check where you must consider the strategy. For example, see the Enquiry Manual (EM), Appeals, Reviews and Tribunals Guidance (ARTG), Compliance Operational Guidance (COG), and so on.