Resolving tax disputes has traditionally been a time-consuming process in countries around the world. Speaking at the celebration of the completion of Phase 1 of CEDR’s twenty-four month commercial mediation project within the country, Phil Batson, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Republic of Moldova, suggested to an audience of lawyers, mediators, policy makers, investors, and Government Ministers, that mediation is not restricted to purely business disputes. He used the example of the UK’s introduction of mediation for tax disputes as an example of how this form of dispute resolution could be used in cases involving the state.
Although tax disputes have historically fallen under the umbrella of litigated or negotiated cases, these two options have not always solved all cases, and many have been left unresolved for significant periods of time. Mediation benefits these cases by not only providing a neutral to help guide progress, but by also providing a structured timeline, preventing disputes from sitting on the backburner unnecessarily. Having worked with CEDR to develop knowledge and understanding of the mediation process, the HMRC has been piloting ADR for tax disputes since 2011 in two different processes, one of which includes mediators accredited by CEDR. According to reports published by the HMRC in 2013, both pilots showed that ADR has the ability to bring tax disputes to resolution.
The Ambassador also outlined the administrative and judicial time and cost savings that result from utilising mediation as well as the resultant reduction of the case load of the courts and above all, encourages access to justice. The Ambassador reiterated his support for the Government’s Justice Sector development strategy in which court mediation and ADR processes are an integral part.
By Leah Oppenheimer