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Equity Trust High Court battle with HMRC begins today

A long-running dispute between a pension provider and HMRC will reach the High Court today.

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The trial, due to commence at 12pm, will see Equity Trust, trustees of the Panthera Recognised Overseas Self Invested International Pension (ROSIIP), seek to have the scheme’s QROPS status reinstated by HMRC. The QROPS status was removed from the scheme in 2008.

In July last year, Equity Trust won the first round of legal battles with HMRC after submitting a claim to the High Court to gain a declaration of ROSIIP’s legal status. HMRC applied to have the trustee’s case struck out but lost the case. Equity Trust was awarded damages and it was agreed that the case should go to trial.

Last month a High Court judge said the three-year long legal battle had gone on long enough and gave HMRC four weeks to submit final information and 14 says for Equity Trust to respond with a view to holding the case as soon after May 17 as possible.

Panthera, the promoter of ROSIIP, was established in 2000 as a joint venture between Equity Trust and Clariden Leu, a Credit Suisse subsidiary, and in 2006 looked to take advantage of then-new UK legislation that paved the way for the creation of QROPS.

Bethell Codrington, managing director of Panthera, said last month that after more than three years, the case is “at last coming to trial” and the issues beginning to be resolved, “so that members of ROSIIP  will be able to proceed in dealing with their pension benefits in the full knowledge of where they stand from a legal perspective”.

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