In Aria Technology Ltd v HMRC and Situation Publishing Ltd as a third party [2018] UKUT 0111 it was decided that a copies of tax appeal notice and the respondents response could be made available by the tribunal to a third party under the principle of open justice.

Situation Publishing Ltd were interested in a case of VAT Missing Trader Inter-community Fraud and they applied for copies of the Aria Technology Ltd's 'ARL' appeal documents from the Tribunal.

They stated that:

  • Their purposes were journalistic in nature and that reporting on an apparent dispute between ATL and HMRC was of editorial interest in the current climate surrounding allegations of tax irregularities by technology companies.
  • Examining ATL’s grounds of appeal was a matter of public interest.

The UT observed that:

  • Open justice was a principle of common law that applied to all tribunals.
  • The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) allow a non-party, with permission, to obtain access to any documents that have been filed and are in the court.
  • Although the UT is not bound by the CPR; it has its own procedures, the CPR can provide helpful guidance where the UT Rules are silent or uncertain in scope.

It decided that a party that seeks to prevent access for a proper journalistic purpose must provide cogent reasons, supported by evidence, why the UT should not allow access and it found that ATL had no reasons.

It was decided that the UT would provide copies of ATL’s notice of appeal, with the grounds of appeal, and HMRC’s response to the grounds of appeal once the time for appealing against this decision has passed.


Aria Technology Ltd v The Commissioners for HM Rev enue and Customs and Situation Publishing Ltd as a third party:[2018] UKUT 0111 (TCC)