In Hastings Insurance Services v HMRC  TC06656 the FTT confirmed that the principle of open justice allows the public to access unpublished legal arguments used in a public Tribunal hearing even if you have no direct connection to the case.
Higher courts, and the UTT have previously agreed these requests. The principle is now extended to the FTT. You have to show you have a legitimate interest in the material. Access to inspect supporting documents is more restricted.
KPMG was advising a client in similar circumstances to the appellant and asked to see the statements of case, the skeleton arguments, and supporting documents that had been presented to the court both by HMRC and the appellant. These documents are presented to Tribunal judges before hearings. They summarise facts and supporting documents, and outline the proposed legal arguments and precedents.
The judge agreed that KPMG’s interest was legitimate and he allowed most of their request.
He excluded some documents :
- Papers relating to a matter that had been settled privately before the hearing, and
- Supporting documents from the original bundles which had not been explicitly referred to in the hearing or decision.
An expert witness’s statement was included in the material released to KPMG because it had been referred to at length during the hearing, even though the Tribunal had decided that some parts of the statement were not admissible in the original case.
A welcome decision, the alternative is to attend a hearing in person, if it is heard in public. Upon a request to gain access the Tribunal then had to write to the original appellant and respondent to give them the opportunity to object.