In Spring Capital Limited v HMRC [2023] UKUT 91, the Upper Tribunal (UT) rejected the claim that Scottish law was 'a matter of fact', agreeing instead with the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) which ruled that it was a matter of judicial knowledge and any tribunal judge was eligible to hear the case.

  • The case is part of a number of cases heard in the tribunals due to a long-running dispute between the appellant, Spring Capital, and HMRC.
  • This particular appeal focused on whether the FTT had the capacity to hear arguments of Scottish law. The FTT would have the capacity to hear such arguments if it were a matter of judicial knowledge. If not, it would be a matter of fact and evidence could be heard to support the arguments. Matters of foreign law are treated as matters of fact when heard in UK tribunals.

The UT found that:

  • The leading case on tribunal jurisdiction, Advocate General for Scotland v Murray Group Holdings Ltd 2016 SC 201, held that there was one UK system of law and that the tribunals had UK-wide jurisdiction.
  • This was supported by the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which provides that any judge can decide matters across the UK. Only cases on appeal from the Upper Tribunal need to be directed to the appropriate court in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
  • The only difference between the original FTT hearing and the one where the appeal was upheld would be that the FTT sitting in Scotland with a Scottish qualified judge would hear additional evidence from a Scottish qualified counsel. The arguments and substantive issues remain the same.

The appeal was dismissed.

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External link

Spring Capital Limited v HMRC [2023] UKUT 91

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