HMRC v Parry – Supreme Court [2020] UKSC 35 – Gratuitous Dispositions, Omissions and Transfers of Value

Publication Date

01 Sep 2020


Mrs Staveley passed away in December 2006. Shortly before her death she transferred funds from her existing pension scheme into a personal pension plan (PPP) (“the Transfer”). Mrs Staveley did not take any pension benefits during her lifetime with the result that a death benefit was payable under the PPP (“the Omission”). She nominated her two sons as beneficiaries of the death benefit, subject to the discretion of the scheme administrator. After her death the benefit was paid to them. 


The executors appealed to the FTT. It permitted the appeal in part, holding that the Transfer fell within Section 10(1). However, it dismissed the appeal in relation to the Omission. 

Both sides then appealed to the Upper Tribunal. The FTT’s decision in relation to the Omission was reversed and the decision on the Transfer into the PPP was affirmed. HMRC were unsuccessful on both points. 


HMRC then appealed to the Court of Appeal. It held that both the the Transfer and the Omission gave rise to a charge to tax. The executors appealed to the Supreme Court. Lady Black, delivering the majority judgment, observed that the difficulty of the points at issued was underlined by the chequered fortunes of the parties’ arguments below. 


There were three discrete issues for consideration by the Supreme Court: 

1) Did the Transfer on its own amount to a transfer of value or did Section 10(1) apply? 

2) Was the Transfer, when considered in the wider context, still one to which Section 10(1) applied? 

3) Did the Omission satisfy the terms of Section 3(3)? 


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James Davies