Taxpayer Appeal Allowed – FTT Highlights Importance of Expert Evidence

In a recent landmark tax dispute case, Graham Chisnall and Others v HMRC [2023] UKFTT 857 (TC), the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) delivered a significant ruling underscoring the pivotal role of expert evidence in resolving tax matters. The FTT concluded that the evidence derived from the sale price of shares on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) held greater reliability compared to evidence presented by an expert valuer employed by HMRC, ultimately resulting in the allowance of the taxpayers’ appeals.


Our lawyers have a track record of successfully challenging HMRC decisions and will assist you to get an optimal result. We analyse the merits at the very outset in an initial video conference together with leading (ex-HMRC and Big 4) tax litigation counsel. We provide urgent advice and representation to clients from our unique expert team of established Tax specialist solicitors and barristers with a proven track record of delivering results. Call us on +442071830529, or email [email protected].

Graham Chisnall and Others v HMRC

Graham Chisnall, Frank Cocker, and Neil Mcarther (the Appellants) made charitable gifts of shares listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) during the 2004/05 tax year. Among these shares were those of Frenkel Topping plc (Frenkel) and Vista Group plc (Vista). The Appellants claimed income tax deductions under section 587B, Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988, based on their valuations of the shares. HMRC conducted enquiries into the valuations, leading to disagreements over the share values and subsequent appeals to the FTT. The Appellants also sought an order from the FTT, under Rule 8 of the Tribunal Rules, based on HMRC’s alleged inordinate and inexcusable delay.

UK Tax Tribunal’s Decision

The FTT ruled in favor of the Appellants, emphasising the reliability of evidence derived from the actual share prices on the AIM over HMRC’s expert reports. Despite the HMRC-employed expert’s testimony, the FTT questioned the credibility of their evidence, particularly regarding the valuation process. The FTT ultimately favoured the valuations provided by the Appellants in their tax returns, highlighting the importance of transparent and justifiable expert opinions in such disputes.

The FTT’s decision serves as a cautionary tale for HMRC regarding the impartiality and credibility of expert evidence in tax disputes. By highlighting the need for clear justifications and consistency in valuation methodologies, the case underscores the importance of rigorous scrutiny in tax proceedings. The FTT referenced McArthur and Bloxham v HMRC [2021] UKFTT 237 (TC) at [15] and Netley v HMRC [2017] UKFTT 442 (TC) at [203] in its decision, providing additional context on the determination of market value and setting precedents for future cases involving expert testimony.

Download the Tax Tribunal Judgment

How LEXLAW Help with Tax Disputes

At LEXLAW, we specialise in navigating complex tax disputes and providing tailored solutions to protect our clients’ interests. With our experienced legal team, we offer comprehensive support in valuation disputes, HMRC enquiries, and appeals, ensuring our clients receive strategic guidance and effective representation throughout the process. Whether you’re facing challenges with tax valuations or HMRC investigations, our firm is dedicated to delivering favourable outcomes and safeguarding our clients’ financial interests.

Expert Evidence in HMRC Tax Disputes

The Graham Chisnall and Others v HMRC case highlights the critical role of expert evidence in resolving tax disputes. As taxpayers and HMRC navigate valuation disagreements, the decision underscores the need for robust evidence and rigorous scrutiny in tax proceedings. By staying informed and seeking experienced legal counsel, taxpayers can effectively navigate complex tax disputes and protect their interests in the face of HMRC scrutiny.

Expert London Tax Lawyers

If you need HMRC Tax Disputes advice, we are available to aid you at every stage of the HMRC appeals process. Members of our legal team have first-hand experience and working knowledge of the internal workings of HMRC. We can provide you with the very best representation in negotiations, throughout the HMRC internal review process and in front of the Tax Tribunal. Our team specialises in successfully challenging HMRC decisions and will assist you in every aspect including developing a strategy.

We are experts in adeptly presenting evidence and employing bespoke arguments combining the facts of your case, previous cases and current legislation to ensure your appeal is a successful one. We provide urgent advice and representation to clients from our unique expert team of established tax and duties specialist solicitors and barristers with a proven track record of delivering authoritative results. Just call us on 0207 1830 529, or email [email protected].


HMRC decision letters containing penalties or imposing assessments offer time limited deadlines within which to appeal. Often these short deadlines (e.g. 30 days) can run from the date of the letter which means you have less time than you think. Your legal rights will become irreversibly time-barred if you fail to take legal action. Therefore, you should seek specific legal advice about your HMRC tax dispute at the very first opportunity so that you understand the time you have left. Failure to take advice or delay in taking action can be fatal to your prospects of success.

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