HMRC rolls out full ADR programme

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Robert Lovell
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Following a successful two-year trial period HMRC has officially launched its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service across the country.

The ADR programme, which is designed to facilitate a fair and quick outcome to its compliance disputes with taxpayers, is now available to small business and individual taxpayers whose affairs are handled by HMRC's Local Compliance SME and Local Compliance Individuals and Public Bodies business units.

Those involved in a dispute can take advantage of independent HMRC facilitators who will mediate between the parties involved.

In an attempt to ease the pressure...

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04th Sep 2013 09:19

ADR and Status

We are about to make an application for an ADR intervention in a Status issue which in our view should be cut and dried but for some reason the matter has been bounced around within HMRC for the last year and a half and has now been refered to a new "senior" officer to review. If anyone is interested we would be happy to  keep them appraised as to how it works out.

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04th Sep 2013 10:57


we used an adr and all it did was crystalise the issues it in no way shortened the enquiry process or reduced hmrc enquiry costs!-like AAMS it will probably be a time waster for agents-I suggest you go straight for heavy and irate complaints-evrything else doesnt work 

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09th Sep 2013 12:02


david5541 wrote:

all it did was crystalise the issues

Surely that is a significant step forward, especially in the typical case where side issues (eg disputes over whether non-decisive further information should be supplied) have the potential to delay and confuse everybody?

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04th Sep 2013 13:23

Comments from Saffery Champness

Ronnie Ludwig, a partner in the private wealth team at Saffery Champness, said:

“What started as a pilot project to test the viability of alternative dispute resolution for small businesses in a small number of UK locations just two years ago has clearly been a success story for HMRC.  Despite some suspicions that HMRC would not be impartial when pursuing alternative internal paths to resolving disputes, more than two-thirds of participants surveyed from the pilot project felt that their disputes were partially or fully resolved.  This is clearly an impressive result that appears to work for the majority of participants.

“HMRC deserves all credit for a thoughtful and effective roll-out of the programme, taking a ‘straight bat’ approach to the scheme and ensuring independence for facilitators as a matter of course. The scheme’s extension to resolve individual taxpayers’ disputes as well will no doubt prove a better deal for taxpayers and HMRC alike, reducing the number of cases which will require a tribunal and facilitating far earlier resolutions for taxpayers.

“Although the vast majority of disputes have proven to be resolved satisfactorily thus far, it’s worth remembering that around one-third of them have not. Pursuing the path of alternative dispute resolution does not represent a guarantee for a gratifying outcome for taxpayers in any fight with HMRC, but rather merely an additional option worth considering. HMRC will continue to have a learning curve ahead, as it fine tunes its procedures and approach. 

“In the end, it’s clear that path being trodden by HMRC to pursue ever more swift and fair methods of resolving disputes is a good one that is likely to benefit everyone.”

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By mabzden
09th Sep 2013 13:54

Cherry Picking?

I applied to use ADR to try to resolve a dispute with HMRC. However they don't accept all applications - in my case they came back after 30 days and said they couldn't help. They'd contacted the Inspector dealing with the case, and he'd said no. The ADR team informed me that my application had been rejected without speaking to me or asking for any further information.

I'm not sure why this facility should be available for some disputes but not for others.

So be slightly wary of the stats showing how well the scheme has done. If you pre-select cases carefully enough you can get any result you wish.

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09th Sep 2013 14:13

Ask why?

Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I thought it was a prerequisite of ADR (generally) that both parties agree, either ab initio or ad hoc, to resort to ADR.

So it might be helpful to telephone the inspector and ask, in a fairly casual, just-because-I'm-interested sort of way, what prevented this case from going to ADR.  If you're lucky, and your counterpart is a reasonable sort, it could be the start of a dialogue that enables you start addressing the real issues in the case and move it forward to resolution.

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By mabzden
09th Sep 2013 15:11


My experience was complicated as it was linked to another, larger dispute involving another party. So it was a case of HMRC not wanting to settle one case that could affect the outcome of the other.

This is the only time I've applied to ADR so I can't claim to be an expert. But I was left with the feeling that my dispute was too "complicated" for ADR to get involved with. But it's the complicated disputes we need an arbitration process for - not the easy cases where the parties are all "reasonable sorts" who just need to get together over a coffee.


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