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HMRC v Able UK Ltd

 In HMRC v Able UK Ltd (Upper Tribunal – 1 March) a UK company supplied ‘ship decommissioning services’ to the US Navy. HMRC issued a ruling that it was required to account for VAT on these supplies. The company appealed contending that they qualified for exemption under Article 151(1)(c) of EC Directive 2006/112/EC. The First-tier Tribunal accepted this contention but the Upper Tribunal directed that the case should be referred to the ECJ. The Tribunal observed that it was not ‘possible to discover an evident purpose in the wording of Article 151(1)(c)’ and that the English language version of that Article differed from the French and Spanish versions.

Why it matters: Article 151 requires Member States to exempt certain transactions which are treated as exports. The Upper Tribunal has referred the case to the ECJ for guidance on the scope of Article 151(1)(c).

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