Case note in the British Tax Review

In a piece published in the March issue of the British Tax Review (available on Westlaw and here), I look at the recent case of Ingenious Media. This is a case I have blogged about on numerous occasions (here, here, here and here). The case note is lengthy as it deals with the decision not just of the Supreme Court in the case, but also the decisions in the Administrative Court and Court of Appeal. The reason for doing so is twofold. First, the case seemed to go under the radar in commentary prior to the Supreme Court and so I thought it would be useful to have a comprehensive critique filling that niche. Secondly, the Supreme Court judgment departed quite significantly from the earlier judgments and it pays in such circumstances to look closely at how it came to be that 5 Supreme Court justices unanimously reversed the conclusion of the lower courts (which themselves had unanimously found against the taxpayers). The abstract reads as follows:

“It is a rarity that the highest court in the UK will unanimously disagree with the unanimous decision of the highest court in England and Wales. But that is precisely what occurred in R. (on the application of Ingenious Media Holdings plc and another) v HMRC (Ingenious Media), a recent case concerning HMRC’s duty of confidentiality. The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal decision, which in turn had followed the reasoning of Sales J in the High Court (who, as it happens, was elevated to the Court of Appeal before the appeal was heard). Thus, nine of the brightest minds fell into separate camps as regards the appropriate outcome of a legal dispute. This calls for a comprehensive exploration of the reasoning underpinning the judgments at each instance. Whilst this note will ultimately welcome the Supreme Court’s judgment in the respect that it overturns misconceptions in the decisions of the lower courts and clarifies the nature of the duty of confidentiality, the Supreme Court decision’s failure to clarify the scope of “confidentiality” is likely to have chilling effects on HMRC’s public engagement”


About taxatlincolnox

Tax law academic. With this blog, I seek merely to contribute to the debate. All thoughts are mine, of course.
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