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VAT, abuse and Pendragon

The recent Pendragon case in the Court of Appeal might have cast some much needed clarity on the scope of the EU principle of abuse of rights in the context of VAT. However the case was resolved on the procedural ground that the decision of the First-tier Tribunal could not be challenged on Edwards v Bairstow grounds. It is a salutary reminder to taxpayer and tax authority alike of the critical importance of the First-tier Tribunal decision in the resolution of tax disputes.

The facts in Pendragon PLC v HMRC [2013] EWCA Civ 868 are as follows. Pendragon is a dealer in motor vehicles which implemented a complicated arrangement for the financing and sale of its demonstrator cars. The arrangement involved five steps. When Pendragon bought new cars from manufacturers to be used as demonstrators it first sold the cars to a captive leasing company in...

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