R (UK Uncut Legal Action Ltd) v HMRC
May, 1 Day, Administrative Court
For the applicant UK Uncut:
Devereux Chambers’ Ingrid Simler QC leading Blackstone Chambers’ Ben Jaffey, instructed by Leigh Day & Co partner Richard Stein
For the respondent HMRC:
Blackstone Chambers’ James Eadie QC and Gemma White, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor
The relationship between HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Goldman Sachs will be examined by the courts in May when a judicial review (JR) will look at whether a £10m deal between the two was illegal.
This JR challenge is being brought by tax-avoidance campaign group UK Uncut, which has instructed Devereux Chambers’ Ingrid Simler QC to lead.
UK Uncut asserts that HMRC breached its public law duties when it failed to comply with its own collection and management duties after it agreed to a £10m settlement with the banking giant over national insurance (NI) contributions and interest obligations. The relationship between the two, UK Uncut claims, was too close.
The deal in question was signed behind closed doors in 2010 following a meeting about the NI contributions. At the end of the meeting the parties had “shaken hands” on an agreement that meant the bank would pay the outstanding sum, but no interest.
HMRC accepted that there were some errors in agreeing the deal, but still it was ratified by the tax authority.
In December 2011 a report of the Public Accounts Committee criticised the way HMRC had come to such agreements with Goldman Sachs and other major corporates.
A National Audit Office (NAO) report subsequently said the settlements had been reasonable.
UK Uncut, however, maintains that HMRC acted unlawfully and permission to apply for JR was granted on that basis.