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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Communications: General instructions: Special Commissioners and First -tier Tribunal decisions and contentious correspondence

In general you should make sure your manager is aware of any contentious correspondence you receive.

The Special Commissioners and First-tier Tribunal can publish their decisions. Their decisions do not create legally binding precedents but they may be referred to in correspondence from taxpayers or their advisers. The conclusions reached may be more relevant if no appeal is made to a higher Court or tribunal against their decision.

You may get correspondence that refers to such decisions in other cases where it is suggested that a similar point arises. Where that decision is or may be the subject of an appeal, you will need to explain to the taxpayer or their agent that you are not able to enter into any discussion of the case because of this.

Although you may refer to Special Commissioners’ and First-tier Tribunal decisions in HMRC’s favour, you should do this with care and you should not refer to any unpublished decision. Instead, you should put forward your own view on the point in contention, and state the authorities on which you rely. You should also say, if appropriate, that this view was upheld by the Special Commissioners or First-tier Tribunal in the particular case. In appropriate cases, particularly where a taxpayer is unrepresented, you should state that the decision is not legally binding in other cases. If you need to see the complete text of a decision you should contact Litigation Team.