## UK Tribunal Strikes Out Appeal in De Cecco UK Limited v The Pensions Regulator Due to Procedural Omission

Citation: [2023] UKFTT 1023 (GRC)
Judgment on

Introduction

In the case of De Cecco UK Limited v The Pensions Regulator ([2023] UKFTT 1023 (GRC)), the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) was presented with an appeal against an Escalating Penalty Notice which was subsequently struck out. This case underscores the Tribunal’s adherence to statutory preconditions for jurisdiction and highlights the procedural rigor that tribunals follow in the UK. This analysis discusses the key topics and legal principles applied within this decision.

Key Facts

The appellant, De Cecco UK Limited, was served with an Escalating Penalty Notice by The Pensions Regulator due to an alleged failure to comply with an Unpaid Contributions Notice. The appellant acknowledged the non-compliance and unpaid contributions, presenting mitigating circumstances rather than contesting the liability.

However, the crux of the matter stems from the appellant’s failure to request a review of the Fixed Penalty Notice by the regulator within the relevant time limits. This omission led the regulator to not conduct a review, which in turn formed the basis for the regulator’s strike out application under rule 8(2)(a) of the Tribunal’s Rules.

The pivotal legal principle involved in this case is the jurisdictional competency of the Tribunal, which, according to section 44(2) of the 2008 Act, relies on the necessity of a review being conducted by The Pensions Regulator. As the appellant did not meet the appropriate conditions to trigger such a review, the Tribunal acknowledged its lack of discretion to hear the appeal.

Additionally, rule 8(2)(a) of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (General Regulatory Chamber) Rules 2009 was applied, granting the Tribunal authority to strike out a case should it lack jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Tribunal adhered to rule 8(4) by offering the appellant an opportunity to submit representations against the proposed strike out, which the appellant failed to do.

Outcomes

The outcome of the proceedings is clear and definitive: the appeal was struck out on the basis that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear it. The appellant’s failure to trigger a review by The Pensions Regulator resulted in the Tribunal’s inability to consider the merits of the appeal, underlining the importance of procedural compliance within regulatory frameworks.

Conclusion

The decision in De Cecco UK Limited v The Pensions Regulator serves as a firm reminder to legal practitioners of the importance of adhering to statutory requirements for jurisdictional matters in tribunal cases. The case emphasizes the imperative of timely review requests in the context of appeals against penalties imposed by The Pensions Regulator. Omission of such critical procedural steps inevitably leads to the inadmissibility of appeals, with the Tribunal’s scope rigidly defined by the law. Tribunals maintain judicial economy and integrity by upholding procedural rules and ensuring that appellants comply with requirements essential for the Tribunal to exercise its jurisdiction.

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