The draft guidance on the litigation and settlement strategy and the alternative dispute resolution for large and complex issues was published in July 2011. Comments were invited with a closing date of 31 October 2011. Both documents were well received, with very few comments on the actual material. The final guidance documents can be found by following the links below.
The LSS guidance has been renamed as the LSS commentary. This is because, while guidance for staff will be integrated into HMRC manuals in the coming few months, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) consider the commentary should still be available as a stand alone product for both staff and customers. This commentary still includes a section about HMRC's governance procedures. However, Lin Homer's announcement on 27 February set out planned changes and heralded the publication of a code of practice on governance of tax disputes. Once code is published, the section on governance in the LSS commentary will be withdrawn. Up until then the guidelines in the commentary will apply. If you have any questions on this issue please contact the Dispute Resolution Unit.
The main changes to the ADR guidance is the inclusion of some examples of the types of cases where ADR has been effective in resolving the issue and directions on how to contact HMRC to explore whether a case should be admitted to phase 2 of the Large and Complex pilot that will run throughout 2012-13.
The first phase only envisaged around 15 cases being taken into the pilot, and a report on the outcomes of that pilot will be published later in the spring. The pilot has however been considered a success, and one of the main areas of feedback was that HMRC's capacity should be increased. Phase 2 of the pilot looks very much like the first phase, and the Dispute Resolution unit will continue to be the gateway for applications to enter into a Dispute Resolution agreement which may involve the engagement of an independent mediator to help resolve the issue. The aspiration is however to be able to manage around 50 cases within the pilot this year, using the experience built up this year, and the mediation skills of personnel across HMRC.
If, having read the guidance, you think you have a case that may benefit from alternative dispute resolution then please contact your CRM, Customer Coordinator, caseworker. If the case is already listed for Tribunal contact your Solicitor, they will then liaise with the Dispute Resolution Unit about your case.