No Court of Appeal for you! Judges uphold Aria PC firm VAT fraud ruling
Plus: A year ago today El Reg changed the law
Aria's full statement
Aria Taheri, MD of Aria Technology Ltd, sent us this statement when we asked him to comment on permission to take his company's case to the Court of Appeal being refused.
The Register does not endorse or support its contents, nor have we fact-checked them. We remind readers of the context of the below passage, written by the sole director of a company that exhausted HMRC's internal appeal processes before going through two layers of the legal system, losing at every stage before having permission to take it even higher refused.
We note the use of the word "emotive" to describe the judge – and fail to understand why Taheri would say she would be more emotional in her decision than anyone else. We also point out that the director has no standing to discern whether the judge is well-trained or has adequate time management skills, and that the Upper Tribunal ultimately ruled that "it was not erroneous in law for the [First Tier Tribunal] to express an overall view of Dr Findlay's reliability and truthfulness without explaining why it rejected the various detailed points on which Aria had alleged Dr Findlay was misleading."
Here in the UK, we live in a democracy. Checks and balances are put in place to ensure everyone is treated as fairly as possible.
First of all, this is a civil Action brought by a dormant company – Aria Technology Ltd against an assessment made by HMRC to claim the tax rebate that it is due.
In civil actions the judge has to decide on facts of the case and if one party has over 51% favoured by the judge that party wins.
In most cases, the judge has to justify his decision through a written report outlining the facts of the case.
It took Judge Jennifer Blewitt well over a year to write her report.
Judge Blewitt's report contains many factual errors, inaccuracies, and contradictions. These are all evidenced by the transcripts. Many parts of her report seem to have been copy and pasted from other decisions - irrelevant to this case.
HMRC's witness Dr Findlay, effectively said that to describe a product as an "OEM CPU" is another indicator that ATL's due diligence was incorrect (see the transcript). This is absolutely untrue - we have been describing a none retail CPU as OEM for as as long as I have been in IT business - over 25 years. Every other IT business that I know, describes it the same.
Incredibly, Dr Findlay's report also contains tables that not add up, coming up with wrong figures! How on earth did he get his Phd? The judge then described Dr Findlay's report as accurate!!
To use a metaphor, a judge is like a referee in a football game. In the case of ATL, the referee decided that it's [sic] goalpost will be double the length and height of the other side.
Her decision seems to be based on either on an emotive bias, lack of time and resources (is her caseload too much?), lack of training, all three or some other unknown factor. Either way the decision is questionable at best. Thus forming the grounds for appeal.
Again, both suppliers that ATL purchased the goods from were audited by HMRC and their taxes repaid to them. It is the suppliers above them who have defaulted. ATL's due diligence was adequate at the time and in line with HMRC guidelines. To expect ATL to pay the taxes that HMRC failed to collect is the subject of the current challenge.
Having been dormant for a few years, ATL is Challenging HMRC as a matter of principle. The appeal has many stages – first it has to be done by the judge who made the report and the decision (no judge will contradict his/her own decision). It is only in the next stage that the case is referred from High Court to another judge in the Court of Appeals. The appeal is still ongoing.
It is important to note that ATL is looking for a fair decision rather than a win and is asking for the case to be reheard. HMRC's legal costs which after another challenge, were halved [sic], are now being paid by ATL.
Judge Blewitt Made a decision recently when Lorraine Kelly won her tax case. If Judge Blewitt used the same standard of reporting as she did with ATL, there would have been an outcry.
Having operated for the last 25 years, paying millions of pounds worth of taxes - win or lose, ATL deserves a fair decision based on a fair report.
Due Diligence means: "reasonable steps taken by a person to avoid committing a tort or offence".
The question is: did HMRC do their own Due Diligence when giving VAT numbers to defaulting suppliers? Did the HMRC officers [excised], with all the resources at their disposal do their Due Diligence when they repaid the rebate due ATL's two immediate suppliers?
The case is no longer continuing. ®