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This update was first published in the May 2012 UK edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

HM Revenue & Customs’ alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service seems to be one of its best kept secrets. There is no doubt that arbitration is a good, well recognised and valuable form of dispute resolution. While there were initially some doubts about the independence of the service, the practitioners who have used ADR say it works well. If you have dismissed ADR, it might be worth another look.

As highlighted last month, HMRC states that ADR provides ‘small and medium enterprise customers with an alternative way of resolving tax disputes in compliance checks’. It covers VAT and direct taxes and doesn’t affect the taxpayers’ review and appeal rights. It works by involving an ‘independent person from HMRC (a “facilitator”)’, who will to try to broker an agreement between the taxpayer and HMRC officer.

Glenn Collins, head of technical advisory, ACCA UK

Last updated: 13 Jan 2015