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HMRC v British Telecommunications PLC

In HMRC v British Telecommunications (A3/2012/3096 – 11 April 2014) BT lost its £62m claim (under bad debt relief VATA 1983 s 22) for a refund of VAT accounted for on supplies made before 31 March 1989 in respect of amounts unpaid by its defaulting customers.

A condition of the relief was that the customer must be insolvent. This condition was not satisfied in some cases and so BT claimed that it had a directly enforceable right under the Principal VAT Directive 2006/112/EC art 11C(1). BT also asserted this right in respect of pre-April 1989 periods in relation to which claims under national legislation were barred by FA 1997 s 39(5).

The first issue was therefore whether art 11C(1) had been capable of having direct effect. Art 11C(1) provided that in cases of partial or total non-payment by customers ‘the taxable amount shall be reduced accordingly under...

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