The rather complicated background to this appeal is well summarised in the first paragraph of the Court of Appeal ruling in Mitchell and Bell v HMRC  EWCA Civ 261, as follows:
“By this appeal, Mr Bell challenges the UT’s determination that he is not entitled to see certain documents which are in the possession of HMRC and which HMRC wish to disclose to him. The documents arise out of HMRC’s investigation into the tax affairs of another taxpayer, Mr Mitchell. Mr Mitchell’s objection to the disclosure of at least some of those documents was successful in the FTT and UT. The issue for this Court is whether Mr Mitchell’s objections lie on solid ground and should be upheld.”
The Court of Appeal gave consideration to the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 and to the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Tax Chamber) Rules 2009, SI 2009/273 (the “FTT Rules”).
The Court of Appeal reached its decisions as follows:
“I am satisfied that HMRC are in principle empowered to disclose the Level 2B and 4 documents, which are the subject of this appeal, pursuant to either or both of section 18(2)(a) and section 18(2)(c).”
“In my view the FTT lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate proposed disclosure by HMRC pursuant to powers contained in s 18(2)(a) or (c). I agree … that the only route for challenge to a disclosure decision under either of those provisions is by way of judicial review.”
“it is open to HMRC now, as it has always been, to exercise their powers under either or both of section 18(2)(a) or (c) and to make disclosure of the Level 2B and 4 Disputed Documents to Mr Bell, if they consider that to be appropriate. If Mr Mitchell wishes to challenge that decision, he will need to apply for judicial review.”
“I therefore conclude that this appeal should be allowed and that “no order” should be substituted for the FTT’s refusal of those parts of HMRC’s application which are under appeal to this Court.”
Related content from Claritax Books
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.