Commentary

A5.609 Hearings and decisions in the First-tier Tribunal

Administration and compliance

A5.609 Hearings and decisions in the First-tier Tribunal

A5.609 Hearings and decisions in the First-tier Tribunal

Hearings are usually held in public

All hearings will be held in public unless the tribunal gives a direction that all or part will be held in private1. This includes directions hearings, which under the previous system were held in private unless the tribunal directed otherwise.

Either the appellant or HMRC can ask for a hearing to be held in private, but the tribunal will give a direction to this effect only if it considers that restricting access is justified2:

  1.  

    •     in the interests of public order or national security

  2.  

    •     to protect a person's right to privacy

  3.  

    •     to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information, or

  4.  

    •     because it is in the interests of justice

Very few cases have been heard in private. The First-tier Tribunal rejected an application for a case to be heard in private in Moyles3. The applicant was a well-known broadcaster who had claimed a loss resulting from his use of a widely-marketed tax avoidance scheme. Judge Bishopp observed that 'there is an obvious public interest in its being clear that the tax system is being operated even-handedly, an interest which would be compromised if hearings before this tribunal were in private save in the most compelling of circumstances'.

Hearings can be informal or formal

Hearings in basic cases are informal, where both parties are expected to attend and present their cases.

Hearings in standard and complex appeals are more formal than in basic appeals, but there is no need

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