There are 3 types of appeal – Basic, Standard and Complex.
A Basic appeal is normally listed for a hearing without either HMRC or the taxpayer being directed by the Tribunal to submit any documents or witness statements. It’s straight to a hearing, which is normally listed within 3-4 months. However, either party can serve evidence if they so wish, providing the other party has time to examine it and respond. A separate article deals with the process and law on serving additional evidence/documents late.
A Tribunal appeal categorised as Standard (which is the vast majority) will involve the Tribunal issuing ‘Directions’. This is a list of what to do and when. 60 Days after an appeal is acknowledged by the Tribunal, HMRC must lodge what is called a Statement of Case. It is a document that sets out why they believe they have the legal power to make the decisions which are under appeal and why they think they will succeed. 42 days later, both parties must send each other a list of the documents that they will rely on at the hearing. You must give HMRC a copy of every document on your list that they don’t have and they must do the same for you. HMRC will then put all documents in a folder, page number them and provide the taxpayer and the Tribunal with copies to use at the hearing.
Dates for serving witness statements are included, as is a date for submitting what is called a ‘Skeleton Argument’. This is a document that is sent in by the taxpayer and HMRC 14 days before the hearing and after each party has looked all the evidence. It is a summary of why each party thinks they will win and broadly what the factual and legal arguments are.
The final category is Complex. This is the only category where the winning party will receive its legal fees back and the procedure is the same as Standard, but can include other tasks the Tribunal think need addressing. These may include the provision for expert evidence, or decisions regarding whether the hearing will be recorded.
Any party can make an application to the Tribunal to amend the deadlines, but must give reasons. Almost every reasonable request is agreed to by the tribunal.