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Supreme Court gives third ruling in franked investment income saga


Following on from HMRC’s successful appeal on limitation last year, the Supreme Court has today issued a further judgment in the Franked Investment Income group litigation.

The litigation was established by a group litigation order made in 2003.  The judgment of Lord Reed and Lord Hodge, with whom the other judges agreed, follows a four day hearing in December and is the third judgment of the Supreme Court in this litigation. As the Court has recognised, the lengthy proceedings have raised legal questions of exceptional complexity and novelty, addressing perhaps unprecedented development in both domestic and EU law.

In the comprehensive judgment, the Supreme Court agreed with HMRC that it was not barred by res judicata or otherwise by abuse of process from raising a range of arguments in its own appeals and against the claimants’ appeals. It moreover agreed with HMRC regarding the basis on which the claimants were entitled to recover interest, allowing HMRC’s appeal and limiting the claimants to statutory interest under the Finance Act 2019 only.

The claimants’ appeals on certain other issues in respect of group relief, management expenses, and enrichment were allowed, while those on surrendering advance corporation tax failed.

The litigation continues, with matters having been remitted to the High Court already following the previous judgment of the Supreme Court.

The judgment is here.

Jennifer MacLeod and Fred Wilmot-Smith acted as junior counsel for HMRC, alongside special tax counsel, instructed by HMRC’s in-house legal team.