Proceeding to Tribunal
The initial admin involved in appealing to Tribunal was fairly straightforward and involved submitting forms to the Tax Tribunal. There are various stages and time limits for different documents and notifications. Although these submissions were not difficult, I had to read each document carefully to make sure I knew exactly what was required and by what time. I am sure that seasoned lawyers can do this without really thinking about it, but as a first-timer, I had to pay full attention!
Once Tribunal proceedings have started, ADR becomes an option. This is a separate request submitted to HMRC via another form. There is no guarantee that HMRC will agree to ADR and you have to be formally accepted into the process. (We understand, for example, that HMRC have a formal policy of refusing to carry out ADR with any TOMS disputes.) The point of ADR is to get all parties in a room to discuss the matter civilly and try and come to an agreement without the cost and time involved in a day out at Court. From all the advisors I have spoken with who have been through ADR, it has mixed results - in many cases a compromise is reached, sometimes one party withdraws their argument completely, or no-one does. The point is not to "play games" and try and see who has a better hand for Tribunal, but to genuinely try and resolve an issue. Sometimes, even a negative outcome for a taxpayer, but one that ends with a better understanding of how to fix something going forward, can be a good result.