Georgia Hicks appears for BBC presenters in a high profile application for specific disclosure against HMRC.

On Monday Georgia Hicks represented the taxpayer, BBC presenters, in an application for specific disclosure against HMRC.

The underlying case concerns three television presenters’ appeals against reg 80 determinations under the PAYE Regulations and notices of decisions in respect of Class 1 NICs. The presenters set up personal service companies, through which they contracted with the BBC. HMRC’s case is that the “intermediaries legislation”, known as IR35, applied to the companies as the underlying relationship between the presenters and the BBC was one of employment. The presenters maintain that they were self-employed.

The presenters allege that the BBC pressured them into setting up personal service companies in 2004. Around this time, the BBC was in ongoing and regular discussions with HMRC about the use of personal service companies and the employment status of presenters. On the presenters case, it was significant that: (a) despite reviewing the use of personal service companies in 2004, HMRC did not advise that the presenters were definitely employees and ought to be put on the payroll; (b) HMRC chose not to pursue the BBC for arrears of PAYE in 2004. The presenters claimed that the material was relevant to the issues of employment status and will show, inter alia, that the situation was not at all clear cut throughout the material time.            

It is this material that formed the subject of the presenters’ disclosure request. Judgment has been reserved.

Georgia was instructed by David Kirk & Co

Reported in the Financial Times. 


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