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HMRC internal manual

Specialist Investigations Operational Guidance

Introduction and organisation: referrals to disputes resolution boards - SI procedures

All referrals to Disputes Resolution Boards (DRB) and other higher governance panels must be reviewed by INQUAT. In addition, INQUAT need to see any cases settling for over £5m (including tax, interest, penalties, Future Revenue Benefit and Revenue Loss Prevented) where the case team consider that it is not necessary to make a referral to a DRB. INQUAT will review and assure that decision.

As soon as settlement proposals are drafted which trigger INQUAT involvement, the case should be referred to INQUAT for governance assurance using the INQUAT mailbox. If appropriate, explain why no DRB referral is needed.

Where a DRB referral is to be made, the draft submission must be signed off by a Grade 7 or above in the management chain of the caseworker. The submission should then be sent to the INQUAT mailbox. At the same time it should be copied to the case team’s Deputy Director. The Deputy Director will be responsible for deciding who attends the DRB hearing. This will usually be the case officer and a more senior officer, or supporting officer, at Grade 7 or above. The Deputy Director may also review and comment on the submission.

INQUAT will review the submission for credibility and effectiveness. Where advice from specialists (including Technical Teams and other parts of Appeals and Reviews) has been received and followed, INQUAT will not seek to review the substance of decision-making. Case owners and their managers remain responsible for the quality and accuracy of submissions.

Once INQUAT are satisfied with the quality of the submission and have signed it off, the local case team will then be responsible for final referral to the secretariat of the governance panel. Case teams will need to build in at least three weeks for INQUAT to turn a case round. INQUAT will of course attempt to respond more quickly to genuinely urgent cases.

Cases with good quality submissions reflecting a high level of specialist and management input, and a well ordered underlying investigation, can be dealt with much more quickly than cases which do not show these features. The Grade 7 reviewing offer should ensure that working cases meet these standards.

See SIOG1935 for the flowchart that sets out this procedure.