MP claims Deloitte liquidator aided HMRC ‘vendetta’

Jose Ignacio Soto/iStock/Thinkstock

An MP accused HMRC last week in a parliamentary debate of pursuing a “disgraceful vendetta” and called into question the professional competence and integrity of Louise Brittan, a high profile insolvency practitioner appointed at a company in his constituency in 2009.

Conservative MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, Robert Neil raised the case of Abbey Forwarding in an adjournment debate on Friday 17 January. A bonded warehouse company based in East London, Abbey was closed down in 2009 after HMRC raised assessments for nearly £6m in excise duty after claiming it had evidence 301 shipments of tax-exempt alcohol had been diverted for resale in the UK.

By precipitating a provisional liquidation process, HMRC prevented the company directors from appealing appeal against the assessments. Deloitte’s Louise Brittain was appointed liquidator at an ex parte hearing from which the Abbey Forwarding directors had been barred and embarked on a “fire sale” of the company’s assets. With the connivance of HMRC, the liquidator “deliberately sought to shut them out from pursuing any avenue of appeal against those assessments”, the MP alleged...

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Comments
stepurhan's picture

Appropriate circumstances    3 thanks

stepurhan | | Permalink

If the number of diversions had been exaggerated to such an extent, this was hardly "appropriate circumstances" for use of this power. Even if these cases are as rare as indicated in the article, even a single case where a business is wrongly forced into liquidation is wrong. David Gauke should hang his head in shame for implying that this is an acceptable casualty.

are we saying

The Black Knight | | Permalink

are we saying a criminal offence was committed but it was only small or there was only irrefutable evidence that it had happened on small scale and that makes it ok.

Like a small fraudulent expense claim perhaps?

Again as the IP is acting for the best interests of the creditors Not the company or the directors What has the IP done wrong?

She might have been used as a blunt instrument by HMRC.

I do think these MP's ought to read the rules they write.

HMRC are apt to use their powers where they weren't intended and to cover up their own incompetence but perhaps MP's should have built in some safe guards. After all they ought to know how their troops act in the field.

In some areas there are no rights of appeal or only certain grounds you can appeal on e.g. reasonable excuse which means there is no appeal if HMRC have overstepped the mark and issued penalties "ultra vires"

nigelr's picture

Absolute Power    1 thanks

nigelr | | Permalink

Time and time again HMRC refuse to provide information to either the Chancellor or the Public Accounts Committee on the basis that they are not allowed to by Law.  It is apparent that HMRC have Absolute Power and discretion for everything that they do and that no-one within HMRC is ever held responsible.

This case simply shows that there is a lack of control and oversight as regards HMRC and its actions.  It is time that the law was changed and this Government Department was controlled by outside parties.  It should also be possible for taxpayers to stop HMRC or any other party from taking action such as happened in this case.

Provisional Liquidation    1 thanks

James Nicholls | | Permalink

This case illustrates a number of things but particularly the lack of:

1. Due process;

2. Independent scrutiny; and

3; Common Sense.

 

The due process issue is that once HMRC have decided you are a crook it is very difficult for you to shake that off.  Accordingly they feel it appropriate to go to Court without notice and to swear to the Court effectively that they "know" you are a crook.  This is the basis for the order appointing the provisional liquidators.

Ideally when the provisional liquidators are appointed they should be of independent mind and without conflicts of interest. Well, as is being shown in sharp detail in the Tomlinson Report and others, IPs are rarely ever independent and without conflicts.  When an IP works regularly for, say, HMRC (and there are few) naturally they "go native" in that if HMRC says someone is a crook then they act on that presumption.

A provisional liquidator is meant to "hold the fort" pending a winding up hearing i.e. preservation of the status quo but most often it is just the beginning of a long and very expensive insolvency.

There certainly is a problem with the burden of proof in cases like this which effectively ruin peoples' lives.

Some may say that crooks deserve everything they get but when someone suffers so much on the basis only of accusations and the balance of probabilities then we have a system with a built-in injustice.

Sadly IPs do not appear to be up to the job of sorting themselves out in this regard. 

IP acting in best interests of the creditors?

TMR | | Permalink

Notwithstanding it appears fraudulent action by the directors has taken place (to a greater or lesser degree as you say), that should be appropriately dealt with accordingly to the law and should not result in what appears a vendetta to destroy the business. All too often IP''s hide behind the comment - I'm doing it in the best interests of the creditors and use this general statement to fend off what clearly appears inappropriate action and lack of care and due diligence by the IP in question (of course I don't know all the facts and I'm only commenting in general). Destroying a business destroys lives of employees, customers and suppliers and whether IP's are truly interested in what's good for creditors is also at times debatable.If HMRC did use the IP as a blunt instrument isn't the IP culpable in allowing that. Seems to me the IP got off quite lightly.        

Why

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Why didn't the crooks tell HMRC that it was only £60,000 pocket money that was missing.

Did they think it was more at the time?

I think this argument is going to get lost in the amount. Tax evasion is tax evasion these good old boys have had enough warning. The gloves are now off.

All this fuss is just a diversion from the facts of the matter, which we have not really been provided with.

The law would have taken a different approach if it was a £60K benefit fraud and that can't be equitable either.

daveforbes's picture

Wot no appeals ?

daveforbes | | Permalink

HMRC thought there was fraud and that it was necessary to "swoop" and convinced a judge. That seems fair enough.

Provisional liquidation, assessments .. yep I get that ... but why no right to appeal ? That seems to be a failure of our legal system. I appreciate the directors are not directing by this stage but no appeal process?  The directors then successfully defended the claim against them.

So as it stands the company was guilty of VAT fraud but not the directors ?

I have however yet to read why the directors £1M damages claim failed as the link was not working.

Diversions or paperwork errors?    1 thanks

Paul Stark | | Permalink

I read about this some time ago (Daily Telegraph) and that article suggested that the diversions may have simply been paperwork errors (we all know HMRC's attitude to the burden of proof) rather than actual fraud. Having 300 of these was too much to explain away as mistakes but when the actual number drops to 3 then mistakes they could well be. Of course the directors could have been putting a spin on it!

More information is needed to form a proper judgement.

Absolute Power corrupts absolutely    1 thanks

TMR | | Permalink

The problem here is everyone is named, shamed and suffers, some rightly so, apart from  faceless and nameless HMRC Inspectors who instigate this kind of action and likely will continue to do so most probably climbing the ladder of the Civil Service to lead another bunch of faceless individuals with no responsibility for their actions. If they were to be properly held to account for heavy handed inappropriate behaviour then we may see a fairer system. 

equally

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Is parliamentary privilege being abused yet again to slander a professional that has no right of reply in this bun fight.

"In response to the allegations, Brittain said Conservative MP for Bromley and Chislehurst Robert Neil had failed to investigate all the aspects of the case when he used parliamentary privilege to air the directors' grievances."

Why are not the proper channels not being used to investigate irregularities of this nature?

Not Crooks - that is the point

James Nicholls | | Permalink

Following my comment others have fallen into the same trap as HMRC and the IP of assuming that some crime was taking place.

This is precisely the point.  We have a criminal justice system that has developed over centuries which puts the burden on the State (which has pretty limitless resources and powers) to show beyond reasonable doubt that a crime has taken place.  If it cannot do this then there is no crook - end of story.

So Abbey illustrates that much better safeguards are needed to protect against this kind of executive action.

In addition the IP should have been more sceptical about HMRC evidence because the effect of her actions on the business and owners was going to be completely devastating.

Rather than hinting that there is a load of evidence we have not seen (which in itself is probably defamation by innuendo) the IP would do better to say "Mistakes happen and all of us involved are sorry - we get carried away sometime but will learn".

But this kind of humility would include making amends to the directors and so neither HMRC nor the IP are prepared to do that. 

daveforbes's picture

@ Black Knight    1 thanks

daveforbes | | Permalink

The details of the failed civil case against the directors is given the link near the start of the article -- http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2010/2029.html

That is a civil case - so "balance of probabilities". If you can't win that you are going to struggle with the "beyond reasonable doubt" for a criminal case.

From my brief reading, of the 303 potential diverted delivery frauds, there is compelling evidence  that 300 of them did not occur and no evidence that the remaining 3 did occur.

When HMRC were confronted with the fact the allegedly empty lorries (having had their loads spirited away in the UK) were turning up full at the destination warehouses abroad they claimed they were restocking the lorries with identical mixed loads en route in France. Right down to the sell by dates. Hmmm.

I particularly liked the "unexplained" £500 payments into petty cash whose mysterious 6 digit reference numbers turned out to be the cheque numbers from the company cheque book.

All too familiar to me

davidross | | Permalink

In 1991 I together with colleagues and suppliers were ruined by 'Police Action' by LAUTRO. Our company was publicly trashed based on false assumptions.

The problem for victims of such action is that officialdom, once confronted by evidence of its mistake, will not apologise and put things right (quite a cheap option for all concerned) but instead uses our (taxpayers') money to fund a rear-guard action - a VERY expensive option since it includes the ruination of the target business and its suppliers and massive lawyers' fees on both sides.

I have never argued against the need for authorities to take emergency action in the first place (Judges agree) but the familiar feature in this latest case seems to be an unwillingness to engage promptly and openly with the 'accused' immediately afterwards. As in this case (the cheque numbers) we had simple explanations but were not allowed to give them.

Too familiar

James Nicholls | | Permalink

David Ross makes an excellent point and that is precisely what we now have in respect of GRG in RBS and perhaps even more of a scandal is HBOS Reading now part of Lloyds.

Brand and reputational damage are used as the reasons to fight claims until the last minute.  When you are spending other people's money this is exactly what you are allowed to do.

Stuart Hall refused to capitulate until the last minute and put his victims through hell. He was using essentially the same tactic.

 

state of lawlessness

The Black Knight | | Permalink

We seem to have reached a state of lawlessness where it doesn't matter who is defrauding who anymore.

Whoever steals the most is the winner.

The fault lays firmly with government.

Civil and criminal

Huw Williams | | Permalink

Whilst I agree with Black Knight's initial reading of the case, I think there is an important point about who had to prove what.  In the civil case HMRC took, they had to prove that deliveries had not taken place - the judge indicates that if the case had been a tax case the taxpayer would have had to prove the loads had been delivered and that might have affected the decision (for the 2 or 3 loads which were more suspect).

But the case does suggest that the HMRC evidence was poor as they seemed to have started from a expectation of guilt and not from trying to see what, if anything, had really happened.

daveforbes's picture

"failed £1m claim"

daveforbes | | Permalink

Reading through the "failed £1M" claim by the directors, this was for a claim for loss of income by the directors due to their assets being frozen and them not being able to transact any business. There is no suggestion that they were guilty just they failed to prove the losses resulting from the freezing of their assets in all but a couple of the 13 issues they raised. One they were successful with was the tax surcharge for not paying their personal tax on time ... because their bank accounts were frozen by HMRC !

An aspect of the claim that failed was for damages to the warehouse because the security patrols were suspended due to the frozen bank accounts. This failed as the warehouse was owned by a separate family limited company and there was no formal lease.

Reading through the case, there was suffering on all sides. One of the directors attempted suicide (para 130) and the IP had to write off a further £1.6M of fees when HMRC said they wouldn't pay any more (para 14). I think paragraph 140 would be marked down at GCSE due to repetititon of the word "unacceptable". Does the judge not own a thesaurus ?

Perhaps the unpublished information throws a completely different light into this murky world.

 

 

"the IP had to write off a further £1.6M of fees"

davidross | | Permalink

Good God !

How much DID they get paid?

The murky world of insolvency!

TMR | | Permalink

 So the IP wrote off £1.6 mln in fees !! which I assume wasn't the total fee charged.

There are too many powerful organisations these days Banks and HMRC to name but two, linked to insolvency actions where there is simply no justification and there is no recourse.

In the process businesses are destroyed, owners are left depressed and suicidal at the injustice and the workforce often lose their jobs.

Like David Ross I too had my business destroyed (this time by unethical and completely unjust bank action). The IP came in raped the business and charged a huge fee !  

There are of course good IP's but the law doesn't support or protect those who are on the receiving end.  There must be more accountability for those who bring insolvency action in the first place and IP's should consider far more the lead up to an insolvency rather just disposing of the assets to the highest bidder. 

That would in my case and I am sure David Ross' and also in this case have made the instigators consider their actions before they destroy what has often been a lifetime's work. They should all be accountable and IP's have a role to play in making them accountable! 

The law

The Black Knight | | Permalink

The law is there to protect the creditors.

As it stands there is no obligation to investigate the creditors reasons or motives for a liquidation.

As is coming to light large corporates and the government HMRC see nothing wrong in using underhand tactics to make a profit or cover up their incompetence. Unfortunately there are two things that float to the top and there isn't a lot of cream.

There are supposed to be safeguards from HMRC powers (so we are told) but in many areas of bulldozing the rights of appeal have been removed or severely restricted. Even when HMRC act outside their powers there is no right of appeal and there ought to be!

It is very difficult to believe that the directors are whiter than white. If they had been perhaps it would have been sensible to cooperate with the enquiry before such powers were invoked.

Play hard by all means but you have to be sensible about these things because they do have ultimate power and more often fail to use it when they should.

The protection from the banks is a police investigation into fraud if that is what has occurred, if they have just protected their asset in the most beneficial way then there is nothing wrong in that. The directors should have paid closer attention to the law.

In all the insolvencies I have seen the directors were directly responsible but always blame it on the banks or the economy.

Unfortunately as this case indicates HMRC once they have picked you cannot turn back as culture dictates no one must admit liability by saying we have picked the wrong case. Very often they just keep in digging in the hope they will find something.

The Moral or the story is It is important to comply with Company and tax law and don't breach bank covenants if there's anything to steal.

The law

TMR | | Permalink

Like most Black Knight has automatic assumption directors are always responsible for insolvency and the law unfortunately reflects that view. Protection and re-dress does not exist.

In our case I was semi retired but as a major shareholder was asked to return to resolve problems created by "poor" but not "inept" or indeed "corrupt" management. The bank having signed only a few months earlier a contract with lean security (can't blame previous management for signing a good deal), saw opportunity to recover their position by undue pressure for personal guarantees, when I refused to bow to their pressure they called the loan and the rest is history.

In this case HMRC acted with haste and obvious pressure, they have failed to prove their case, and the IP has self interest not to look in to the matter let alone as you say no obligation. My point is there should be obligation and where (a true independent IP) finds there has been undue commercial pressure act against the perpetrator.  The law should be changed, it should not solely be there to protect creditors, for creditors are not always what they seem!

  

How

The Black Knight | | Permalink

How would that work?

Are you expecting an IP to look into the terms of every contract entered into by the company directors without reading first and Judge whether the contract is enforceable or recoverable. And in any case would that not be the fault of the directors and another reason for a disqualification recommendation.

If an IP has a suspicion that a crime may have taken place he is required to report it to the police (FSA formerly SOCA formerly NICO) they change their name every time there is a scandal. But as you have seen in reality they are on one long tea break.

If a debt exists then it is enforceable.

as I have said many times before if the creditors motive is fraud then it is a matter for the police you can't really blame the Insolvency world for the police not doing their job.

What is undue commercial pressure? "It's not fair? because he negotiated better than me and I didn't read the contract"

It's simple: If you breach the terms of the agreement (or in this case revenue law) then there are legal consequences or penalties.

There is a lesson here in that:  If you don't understand It, take advice so that you do.

The bank agreement/ offer letters include a recommendation that you take separate legal advice, but how many do.

Those greedy lawyers are paid too much perhaps. What Value you never saw though?

 

Ship captains are responsible for not avoiding the Ice bergs.

The Black Knight | | Permalink

TMR wrote:

Like most Black Knight has automatic assumption directors are always responsible for insolvency and the law unfortunately reflects that view. Protection and re-dress does not exist.

In our case I was semi retired but as a major shareholder was asked to return to resolve problems created by "poor" but not "inept" or indeed "corrupt" management. The bank having signed only a few months earlier a contract with lean security (can't blame previous management for signing a good deal), saw opportunity to recover their position by undue pressure for personal guarantees, when I refused to bow to their pressure they called the loan and the rest is history.

Were they allowed to protect their money in the agreement by asking for personal guarantees after the agreement had been signed.

or was this a new loan which required personal guarantees which you refused to give. Those are the terms on which the bank is prepared to lend, you could have gone to someone else who required less security perhaps but they would have charged a higher rate of interest no doubt?

Either way the choice was yours and the reason that the company failed to be able to settle its debts as they became due is down to the directors. Is it not?

 

With respect I think you are getting off the topic

davidross | | Permalink

Surely this story is really about abuse of power? Crucially in this case (and mine all those years ago) there was a failure to immediately front the 'accused' up and ask for an explanation. Since in this case (it seems) and in mine, unwarranted suspicions could easily be dispelled, there seems to be a step missing in the process. This was well rehearsed in the High Court in my case and the Judges were critical of LAUTRO but said it was tough titties and we could not be compensated.

If I were in a position to change the Law it would be to insist that where emergency action is taken, an immediate opportunity be given for the subjects of that action to be told what is alleged and enabled to explain themselves. A quid pro quo for the extraordinary step that denies a say in the initial action ('ex parte')

Abuse and Culture

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Abuse of power? Well that's just a fact of life with HMRC

Culture is the issue really you need reasonable individuals that have sentient thought that can be relied upon to exercise their powers appropriately and admit they might have made a mistake or that intelligence received is not always perfect or complete.

You would be hard pushed to find that anywhere let alone in the automaton world of HMRC.

A right of appeal is necessary in every area of the law for it to be exercised in a fair way otherwise it will always be abused by the bully boys.

This will just get worse as we get more and more German law.

The Joke is that they fail to use these powers when they ought to. They must pick the wrong cases on purpose.

Abuse of Power and No right to be heard

TMR | | Permalink

If the law was black and white not one hundred shades of grey then we could rely on the legal advice we receive which wouldn't be so heavily caveated in the first instance. Unfortunately to prove your case, you have to go through a long and very expensive court process which in itself is reason enough to prevent the man in the street taking action, and the bullies know it.

The theme running throughout all our respective cases, whether Lautro/HMRC/ Banks is heavy handed approach with little or no right to reply and no one to complain to until it is all too late.

Being an entrepreneur and ex IP (long time ago) I have experienced both sides of the fence. We now have IP's charging huge fees and bullies with no morals and certainly no responsibility, that is a recipe for disaster and why this abuse of power must stop. We see time and again court process does not allow re-dress. 

One poor man it seems was close to suicide and the mental stress put on a director/entrepreneur in such cases (I know I experienced the same!) is simply NOT acceptable under any circumstance.

Black Night you have probably never run your own business, although rewards come with that so does great responsibility and sacrifice. Frankly I wouldn't do it again with the way I was treated at the end of it, and where there are no entrepreneurs then you're going to have a very different world indeed.    

These owner/directors went to their MP most likely out of complete frustration at not being given any proper chance to be heard, to his credit he raised it in Parliament, I didn't even get the courtesy of a reply from mine!

I'm bitterly angry, so is David Ross and so are these directors, and I bet there's a plethora of other cases and other people out there in similar position. I don't know whether it's down to the green eye of envy or these are just vindictive individuals who like to bring others down whatever the cost.  I now have nowhere to go and I don't intend to return to dark depressed days ruining the remainder of my life chasing through the Courts with little or no chance of an apology let alone some financial re-dress. What depresses me most in all this is these people get away with it and will continue to do so.     

I believe The Black Knight runs an accountancy business.    1 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

TMR wrote:
Black Night you have probably never run your own business

I believe The Black Knight runs an accountancy business.

I do

The Black Knight | | Permalink

I do amongst other things.

I also see the effect of poorly run companies that think they can flout any rule or agreement on the legitimate law abiding parts of society.

I think people need to take responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming everyone else.

The law is complicated it has evolved from the simple beginnings for a reason. Most I admit do not have the ability to understand it much like physics, tax , maths and computers. It does not follow that these subjects should be dumbed down (simplified) to the understanding level of the lowest common denominator.

Successful entreprenuers take advice.

Scuppering bank finance over a personal guarantee (whilst I see the point that it may be overkill so far as security is concerned) was a bit daft wasn't it? or was it that you had no faith in the company's ability to pay the debt?

daveforbes's picture

physics, tax, maths and computers    2 thanks

daveforbes | | Permalink

Ah, the missing verse from "These are a few of my favourite things" in the sound of music.

The Point

TMR | | Permalink

BK all cases as I'm sure you appreciate are unique and I wouldn't want to get in to all my gory details at least not in public, the point in all this is do owner/directors who feel they have been wrongly accused/treated have a right to a dispassionate hearing from an independent person/body before an IP supported by some heavy handed creditor (particularly without valid claim) walks in and destroys everything?

In this case HMRC did not prove their claim which resulted in the destruction of a business and the owner/directors have to now embark on a ruination claim which is going to be fraught with difficulty, stressful, time consuming and expensive. But if they are indeed "clean" I hope they win their case and get their just rewards and those who have inflicted damage are equally ruined.

This could have been resolved before it reached this stage, a bully however remains a bully until he has imposed his will on others, so it needs some independent regulation.

For me a disingenuous banker who said one thing but acted in the opposite wasn't someone I was going to trust with my family home no matter how confident I was in the company's ability. Profit is one thing, cash flow particularly in the short term is another and you are often reliant on many factors outside your own control no matter how much advice you take, how confident you are in the business and how good you are at your job. The bank we were with had nothing but destruction in mind and perversely rejected all approaches to resolve matters at their own expense.  

THE APPEAL    2 thanks

makkyh | | Permalink

I have read with interest the posts above and would like to clarify the main areas where the Directors feel aggrieved. When HMRC presented the £6m odd assessment, it became a due debt. The only relief would have been an appeal through the FT Tax Tribunal. Because you have to pay the debt before you can appeal, there is a mechanisms to do so under hardship. ie to pay would destroy the Company, so hardship would apply and the appeal would be accepted. HMRC served the assessment, and simultaneously said. you cant pay, here is the liquidator. The Directors were sacked within the hour, and with a box containing the Provisional Liquidation order, together with a freezing injunction, went home. It was only the Liquidator as the Company who had the power to appeal the assessment. One of the Directors, through the finance act sought to appeal because he was an 'interested party'. This was accepted by HMRC. One week later the liquidator complained to HMRC, and they reversed their decision. So the Directors had everything taken away, were fighting for their homes, but had no way of appealing in the correct forum, the very movements at the heart of the allegation against them. The liquidator brought a misfeasance claim against the Directors based on HMRC evidence and lost. The Directors then invited the Liquidator to now appeal the assessments which she refused to do. The Directors sought Locus to appeal themselves, something again she refused to do. It was only after the Directors took her to Court that Locus was granted. Three days before the Tribunal was due to sit, HMRC withdrew the assessments. The very thing that had caused the above misery and carnage, had now disappeared. Only the train crash it caused remained and still does. This prompted the Tribunal Judge to sum up that there 'had been prima facia evidence of a serious injustice'. Contrary to smoke and fires, the Directors had done nothing wrong. This has been proved conclusively. The three vehicles which were intercepted empty, all had valid reasons. I hope this helps convey the hurt and betrayal the Directors feel from the stab in the back administered from a body who's title begins HM.

Appeal    2 thanks

James Nicholls | | Permalink

Well put Makkyh and very considered too bearing in mind some of the comments.

What this case illustrates is how if your "coat tail" gets caught in the insolvency "machine" you will be lucky to come out in one piece.

What happened to these directors is a disgrace and if it were you then you'd be ranting and raving as well.

Because these cases are rare (although not as rare as you think) we all think it's just bad luck and nothing can be done.  We turn a blind eye and say to these sorts of people "Why don't you move on?"

Well, they don't move on because their lives have been wrecked and they often can't even start again.

Many others think "There's no smoke without fire".  Well there is, especially when it comes to HMRC and incompetents all around including those at Deloitte.

At the same time these people have been defamed in the extreme and for that alone deserve recompense.  Loads of comments above have been along the lines of "well they must have done something" and this illustrates why HMRC should be more careful.  In this case HMRC said the directors were crooks when they were not but the accusation sticks.

There by the grace of god go all of us and that is why something must be done about this injustice - selfishly, it could be me or you.

 

 

HMRC Powers    1 thanks

gordo | | Permalink

Through HMRC's current consultation document, disguised as "tackling marketed tax avoidance", they want the powers to demand tax where they deem your circumstances to be similar to a previous case. Even though you don't think it's due, your advisers don't think it's due and even if you have QC opinion that it's not due. No right of appeal. Remarkably, HMRC claim that it was the taxpayer in the past that caused all delays in bringing cases to conclusion. (these are the guys that demand that I reply within 28 days, then when I do they send me an acknowledgement stating that they hope to reply within 90 days, but not during the busy time, which actually is 6 months of the year!). Presumably, the taxpayer is also responsible for HMRC's backlog.

So if HMRC challenge your (self) assessment. They raise a notice immediately for the tax they would like, you have to pay and then HMRC doesn't need to do any work to pursue what the correct position should be because they would already have the tax (plus penalties).

It does make for remarkable reading and would invite others to consider reading and responding to the consultation, even if you didn't think that the title could have any relevance to you.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tackling-marketed-tax-avoidance

My understanding was that we have a court process for a reason.