The case concerned a late application to opt out of the costs regime applying to appeals allocated to the complex category under Rule 10(1)(c) of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier) Tribunal (Tax Chamber) Rules 2009 – Opus Labour Services v HMRC  UKFTT 470 (TC).
The First-Tier Tribunal agreed that the three-stage process that had been set out in the earlier Denton case was appropriate, as this case concerned an application for the extension of a time limit after that time limit had expired. On that basis, the FTT had to establish the length of the delay, and the reason why the default occurred, and then to evaluate all of the circumstances of the case so as to determine the prejudice that would be caused by granting or refusing the application.
In this case, the appellants had been advised four times that there was a time limit, but their representative nevertheless overlooked the matter. Considering the wider context:
“The starting principle is that time limits should be respected unless there is a good reason for failure to comply with a time limit. In this case, there has been a delay of at least two months and almost four months from the time limit for opting out. I do not consider that forgetfulness on the part of the adviser provides a good reason for that failure; nor do I consider that the fact that there would be no significant impact on the proceedings constitutes a good reason for accepting the failure.”
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In Tax Appeals – Law and Practice at the FTT, tax barrister Keith Gordon analyses some 500 precedents to show how the FTT rules are applied in practice, and how taxpayers may use the tribunal system for appealing against tax decisions.