Taxman’s skeleton arguments made public in landmark ruling

THE TAXMAN will have to reveal its skeleton argument in its battle against Robert Gaines-Cooper (pictured). The ruling could open up all skeleton arguments in cases to public scrutiny, not just in tax cases.

The Court of Appeal ruled that HM Revenue & Customs must comply with a Freedom of Information request from tax barrister James Kessler QC to disclose its skeleton argument in the Gaines-Cooper v HMRC case.

“Having written submissions to the courts ruled off-limits to the general public and the legal profession would have reduced the transparency of the UK courts,” said Kessler.

Added transparency would also help taxpayers better argue their cases against the taxman.

Kessler said: “HMRC might argue, in one court case, that money due is for income tax, while in another similar case they may argue that the same class of money due is in-fact for capital gains tax.

“Bringing these skeleton arguments to light may encourage HMRC, and others, to employ greater consistency in their approach.

“The public should have access to the same written submissions as the judge to enable him to understand what the case is about , how the Court reached its decision and how the law is developing.”

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