Tax and Duties/VAT Tribunals

2 Hare Court has established a strong reputation in cases concerning both direct and indirect taxation and excise and other duties. These include not only the prosecution and defence of tax fraud in the criminal courts, but also in recent years the conduct of tax and duty appeals before the Tribunal, appearing both for appellants and the Commissioners of HMRC, as well as representing claimants and defendants in the High Court proceedings arising out of assessments raised by HMRC for unpaid tax or duty.

Members of Chambers have appeared in the First Tier Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal, the High Court (both Companies Court and Chancery Division), Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal. Chambers has particular expertise in appeals relating to indirect tax and appeals against decisions by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to deny the repayment of VAT where fraud is proved in the transaction chain (MTIC fraud). However this expertise now extends to civil proceedings brought against directors for breach of fiduciary duty by liquidators appointed by HMRC, and applications to challenge the appointment of provisional liquidators and where appropriate winding up proceedings.

Members of Chambers have undertaken a number of prominent excise duty cases, challenging the right of HMRC to detain and seize goods pursuant to s139 of CEMA in the Administrative Court (Millenium Cash and Carry), assessments founded on suspected diversion fraud ( Hone and Others v Abbey Forwarding (in Liquidation)), restraint and Management receivership orders obtained in the Crown Court on the grounds of suspected diversion fraud ( CPS v Windsor, Hare and Eastenders plc) and seeking judicial review of search warrants obtained in belief that duty had been evaded (Windsor, Hare, Eastenders).

We are able to provide significant expertise in the advice, management, preparation, and advocacy involved in conducting appeals concerning both alleged Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud, and diversion fraud by reason of long standing experience of similar cases in the criminal courts.

Since 2005, members of Chambers have been instructed in appeals including some of the most high profile cases of this type including the landmark case of Mobilx Ltd (in Administration), The Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, Calltel Telecom Ltd & Anr v The Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, Blue Sphere Global Ltd,[2010] EWCA Civ 517. Chambers provided leading counsel for one of the appellants and junior counsel for the Commissioners.

A number of members act for the Commissioners and have between them been involved in a substantial proportion of the MTIC cases litigated before the Tribunal. These include:

  • Honeyfone Ltd v HMRC [2008] WL 2033405: an early authority in respect of the interpretation of the Kittel knowledge test, and allegations of discrimination by HMRC against broker traders contrary to EU law;
  • Euro Stock Shop Ltd. v HMRC [2010] UKUT 259 (TCC): the first MTIC appeal to be heard before the Upper Tribunal. A finding of actual knowledge of a connection with fraud was upheld;
  • Regent Commodities Ltd. v HMRC [2011] UKUT 259 (TCC): a finding of actual knowledge in the context of a "contra-trading" scheme, upheld in the Upper Tribunal, which considered the application of the Kittel test to "contra-" cases post-Mobilx and others.
  • Xentric Ltd. v HMRC [2010] UKFTT 620 (TC): Commissioners' denial of £5million repayment claim upheld in the context of a contra-trading scheme.

Members have also acted for the Commissioners in allied proceedings brought in the Chancery Division.