What happens at the Tribunal hearing

By Tolley and written by Anne Redston

The following Personal Tax guidance note by Tolley and written by Anne Redston provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • What happens at the Tribunal hearing
  • Introduction
  • Before the hearing
  • On the day
  • The participants
  • Who sits where
  • Oaths
  • Courtesies
  • The order of events
  • Law, evidence and argument
  • Witnesses
  • Interrupting
  • The decision
  • Costs


This note outlines what happens at a Tribunal appeal hearing.

Before you read this note you should read the Appealing an HMRC decision: outline guidance note. Remember that this guidance note and the other guidance notes on appealing to the Tribunal are only a summary; they do not cover all situations. You may need to take further advice in relation to your client’s appeal position. If your client’s appeal is to the Scottish First-tier Tribunal, the procedure may not be the same as that set out here. You are advised to take specialist advice.

Before the hearing

If you want to understand how to prepare for a hearing, read the Preparing for the appeal to the Tribunal guidance note. If you have never been to a Tribunal hearing before and you are now about to represent a client, you may want to observe a hearing. Almost all hearings are in public, so you can go to a main hearing centre, such as Fox Court, near Chancery Lane in London (the door for this Tribunal Centre is now in Brooke Street (not Gray’s Inn Road)) or the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand in London; Temple Court, Bull Street in Birmingham; or Alexandra House, Parsonage in Manchester.

Note that Tax Tribunal hearings in London are expected to be moved in 2017 to Taylor House, 88 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4QU, so check before you go.

When you arrive, explain to the clerk (the person who manages all the arrangements for the hearing and makes sure it goes smoothly) that you are just observing and then sit quietly at the back. You can come and go when you like, but it is courteous to bow your head slightly to the Tribunal if you enter or leave when the Tribunal is in session.

The Tribunal also provides information about what happens in the hearing in the leaflet, ‘At your hearing’  under reference T243.

On the day

Leave plenty of time to get to the Tribunal and plan