IIn SRN Horizon v HMRC[2017] UKUT 0246 (TCC) an appeal was reinstated due to adviser error even though the taxpayer had ignored the tribunal’s directions and failed to provide any grounds for appeal.

The facts:

  • SRN Horizon imported goods to the UK and HMRC assigned an import code to the goods. 
  • The company appealed to the tribunal stating that the grounds would follow.
  • The judge's directions for information and skeleton arguments were ignored.
  • The company's solicitors withdrew the appeal by accident (confusing it with another client) and they asked for it to be reinstated.
  • The First Tier Tribunal (FTT) decided the case had no merit (as no grounds for the appeal had been advanced) and refused to reinstate it.,

The Upper Tribunal viewed the refusal to reinstate the case as a somewhat draconian step because it had been withdrawn through no fault of the appellant.  It also noted that while HMRC did not consider the appeal to have any merit it had at no point asked for the appeal to be struck out, as it could have done.

The appeal was allowed: the FTT had put overmuch weight on the fact that no case or skeleton argument had been presented and referred the matter to the FTT to reconsider the application.


Regardless of the merits of the underlying appeal, the taxpayer clearly erred in ignoring the tribunal's directions and not presenting any grounds or skeleton argument despite being warned that these were required. It may be that the FTT still decides to turn down the application for reinstatement on that basis.

Useful links

How to appeal a tax penalty

How to appea a tax penalty (subscriber version)

Appeal: mistakes by a tax adviser

Links: SRN Horizon v HMRC [2017] UKUT 0246 (TCC)