Excise Duty Directive 92/12/EEC - application of principles of proportionality and legal certainty
5 December 2013
Butlers Ship Stores Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners  UKUT 0564 (TCC)
In this case, the Upper Tribunal considered the provisions of the 1992 Excise Directive and the relevant UK Regulations, in the context of an appeal by Butlers, operators of a 'tax warehouse', concerning the validity of assessments to excise duty following the disappearance of consignments of whisky and vodka.
In a detailed decision on issues of proportionality and legal certainty, the Upper Tribunal refused Butlers' appeal. It held that in seeking to ensure payment of excise duty while permitting movement of goods under suspension arrangements, it is neither unreasonable nor disproportionate to stipulate that, except in a case where goods are lost due to some force majeure event (in which case no liability attaches), a person involved in the movement of the goods should be liable for the duty which is unpaid as a result of the goods being stolen in transit or otherwise removed from the duty suspension arrangement as a result of an irregularity. The Upper Tribunal also refused Butlers' argument based on legal certainty and decided not to make a reference to the ECJ.
Axiom members, Almira Delibegovic-Broome, who acted for the HMRC, and Julian Gosh QC, who acted for Butlers Ship Stores, were involved in the case.
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