Tribunal Denies Stay Application in Newport City Council Case involving Land Disposal Tax and Landfill Tax Appeals against Welsh Revenue Authority and HM Revenue and Customs

Citation: [2023] UKFTT 914 (TC)
Judgment on

Introduction

The Newport City Council v Welsh Revenue Authority & Anor: UKFTT-TC [2023] constitutes a decision sought for a ‘stay’ in two linked cases; one against the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) concerning Land Disposal Tax (LDT) and the other against HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regarding Landfill Tax (LFT). This discussion critically evaluates the legal principles pertinent within the decision made by the Tribunal.

Key Facts

Newport City Council (Newport) sought a stay for their appeals against both WRA and HMRC, largely due to similarity with another case, Cardiff City Council v HMRC, and the substantive linkage of the main material under dispute provided by Neals Soils Supplies Limited. Newport’s applications against WRA and HMRC were joined to be heard together. However, despite semblance with the Cardiff case, significant differences were acknowledged by the Tribunal, which included: differing arguments around the liability of the material for LFT, disputes surrounding assessments, delineations in public law arguments, material source differences, and distinct legislative provisions, despite their substantive similarities.

The legal framework that steered the Tribunal’s decision was Rule 5(3)(j) of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Tax Chamber) Rules 2009, conferring the power to direct a stay of proceedings. The tribunal referred to the principles set out by Lord Osborne in HMRC v RBS Deutschland Holdings GmbH [2007] STC 814, affirming that a stay might be countenanced if an ongoing case’s decision was materially instrumental in resolving issues before the tribunal, and if it were expedient to do so. The emphasis was on the decision providing ‘material assistance’ as per the precedent in Coast Telecom Ltd v HMRC [2012] UKFTT 307 (TC). The overriding objective, as described in Rule 2 of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Tax Chamber) Rules 2009, was also central to the tribunal’s considerations to ensure fairness, justice, proportionality, and avoidance of delay.

Outcomes

The Tribunal concluded the decision in the Cardiff case would not provide material assistance to the Newport cases. Due to the variances present between the cases, it could not be assured that the Cardiff decision would be significantly aidful. Additionally, expediency was not established given that the Cardiff hearing was at a more advanced procedural stage, and further delay in Newport’s appeals would not be aligned with the overriding objective’s imperatives. Consequently, Newport’s application for a stay in both proceedings was dismissed. However, the Tribunal did issue directions including the joining of Newport’s appeals, the statement of case submission by HMRC within 60 days, and further directions post submission to expedite the proceedings.

Conclusion

In summary, the Tribunal in Newport City Council v Welsh Revenue Authority & Anor [2023] UKFTT 914 (TC) was faced with the task of adjudicating the appropriateness of sisting proceedings in light of similar material under dispute in a separate but related case. Applying the principles and objectives as mandated under the Tribunal Procedure Rules and informed by jurisprudence, it thwarted the stay application, noting differences between the cases and a commitment to efficiency and justice. The direction for joint hearing and expedited process management reflects the Tribunal’s dedication to fair and timely resolution of ongoing tax appeals.

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