Case returns to first-tier tribunal after advisor arrest

A COUPLE fighting a lengthy tax dispute with HM Revenue & Customs are due to cross swords with the taxman once again following an upper-tier tax tribunal ruling.

The upper tribunal allowed Brian and Doreen Foulser’s appeal against an earlier ruling that HMRC should be allowed to take part in proceedings after the arrest of their tax advisor, Watkin Gittins of Montpelier Tax Consultants, while the first hearing was taking place.

Their case had initially been brought to tribunal after courts had found they were liable to pay tax on shares worth approximately £27m, after relief they claimed on the gifts of those shares was denied.

The charges against Gittins were dropped, after which the couple applied to have HMRC barred from further involvement in the case, claiming their continued participation would be an “abuse of process”.

The taxman, though, argued the application should be thrown out on the grounds that it could be beyond the first-tier tribunal’s jurisdiction.

The tribunal upheld HMRC’s order, but the upper tribunal judge Justice Morgan allowed the couple’s appeal, arguing that their case could have been misunderstood, adding that the arrest had made a fair hearing impossible.

As a result, the case has returned to the first-tier tribunal to assess whether arrest has prejudiced the case.

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