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Court of Appeal makes important ruling on EU principle of fiscal neutrality

Published: Thursday 23 April 2020

LIFE Services Ltd and The Learning Centre (Romford) Ltd v Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs [2020] EWCA Civ 452

Jonathan Davey QC has been successful before the Court of Appeal in two important charity / EU / tax cases regarding whether UK legislation providing an exemption from VAT for certain welfare services infringes the EU principle of fiscal neutrality. The Court of Appeal (Floyd, Newey and Arnold LJJ) upheld two decisions of the Upper Tribunal (Mann J and Judge Timothy Herrington ([2017] UKUT 484 (TCC)); Nugee J and Judge Timothy Herrington ([2019] UKUT 2 (TCC))), which had overturned two decisions of the First-tier Tribunal (Judge Barbara Mosedale ([2017] UKFTT 0492 (TC)); Judge Charles Hellier and William Haarer ([2016] UKFTT 444 (TC))), in holding that provisions of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 did not infringe the relevant EU law jurisprudence. The factual context of the cases was that of the provision of day care services to adults with learning disabilities by private operators providing such services for profit. The key issue in dispute was that of whether or not any differential treatment of providers of day care services, whether as between: (i) charities on the one hand and private operators on the other; or (ii) private operators in England and Wales on the one hand and private operators in Scotland and Northern Ireland on the other, was impermissible. The Court of Appeal found that it was not. Jonathan Davey QC acts for HMRC with Natasha Barnes (1 Crown Office Row). Jonathan Bremner QC (One Essex Court) and Hogan Lovells act for LIFE Services Ltd. Eamon McNicholas (Westwood Chambers) acts for The Learning Centre (Romford) Ltd.

The full judgment can be downloaded here.