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VAT focus: VAT and human rights

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Speed Read: Human Rights issues are increasingly in play in VAT. The ECHR will look to rule of law concepts as well as procedural issues, and usually conduct a balancing exercise. In general the right to a fair trial is limited to criminal matters, but the UK Tribunals have accepted that penalty regimes can fall into the criminal sphere. The ECHR will also examine whether a taxpayer has suffered an illegal expropriation of their property. Faced with clear violations of procedure, failure to fulfil EU Treaty obligations, gross arbitrariness or misuse of power, the court will intervene. The main area of review for VAT is export evidence, as illustrated by the recent case of Yukos.

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