Tax Law Review Committee (TLRC), a committee founded by the IFS in 1994 to keep under review the state and operation of tax law in the UK, has published a new report on the strengths of and areas for improvement for the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT). The report is based on a survey undertaken by Associate Professor of Tax Law at LSE Michael Blackwell, who also authored the report on behalf of the TLRC.
The survey found that the main concern among First-tier tribunal users was delay, both between hearings and the release of decisions (which can take as long as a year or longer), and delay caused by the FTT administration from lack of funding. Users also reported dissatisfaction with a lack of communication by the administration, a lack of engagement by some judges during hearings, and concern by some tribunal users that cases are sometimes allocated to judges without the appropriate knowledge or skill.
The report also identifies the FTT’s existing areas of strength, including how judges assist litigants in person by conducting hearings with an inquisitorial approach. The report indicates that allowing remote video-hearings as an alternative to cases being determined on paper without a hearing, and the establishment of a pro-bono advocacy scheme, could improve access to justice by litigants in person. The report uses interviews and a survey of tribunal users, mostly solicitors and barristers, and the experiences of TLRC members, to reach its conclusions.
The President of the First Tier Tribunal Tax Chamber, Greg Sinfield, welcomed the Committee's report and commented that, as the report states, the Chamber has already begun to address some of the issues raised.
‘The tax tribunals: the next 10 years’ is available to read on the IFS website here. Any views expressed in this report are not those of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which has no corporate views.