Top Judge Slams HMRC For “Disturbing Approach”

 In Bullying, Litigation

Unless you’ve met HMRC at the pit-face it’s difficult to grasp what they are like as both individuals and as an organisation. Here a Court of Appeal Judge is alarmed at the way they proceed.

HMRC believe they are a law unto themselves; in investigations they don’t have to prove that you are guilty, it’s up to you to prove you are innocent. So they don’t have the same responsibility as – say – the police to make a case against you.

As you work through to the higher levels of HMRC you see that the most abhorrent bullying behaviour is left unpunished. They simply have no motivation to behave well because no body exists to correct and punish them for their institutionalised bullying.

Here a Court of Appeal Judge Sir Martin James Moore-Bick  hauls HMRC over the coals for their ‘disturbing’ behaviour in a VAT case.

Lord Justice Moore-Bick says, “I found the approach of HMRC to compliance to be disturbing. At times it came close to arguing that HMRC, as a State agency, should be treated like a litigant in person and that the constraints of austerity on an agency like the HMRC should in some way excuse unacceptable behaviour. I remind HMRC that even in the tribunals where the flexibility of process is a hallmark of the delivery of specialist justice, a litigant in person is expected to comply with rules and orders and a State party should neither expect to nor work on the basis that it has some preferred status – it does not.”

Basically what he’s saying is, “You don’t think the rules apply to you, they do.”

The full case judgment can be read here and there is a more detailed write-up about it on Civil Litigation Brief here.

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