The tax payer had overpaid Advance Corporation Tax under an error of law. It sought repayment. The revenue contended that the claim was time barred.
Held: The claim was in restitution, and the limitation period began to run from the date when the claimants discovered their mistake. The appellants had submitted that section 33 of the 1973 Act provided the second of only two remedies for recovery of tax paid under a mistake of law. The first remedy was said to be a common law right to recover tax unlawfully demanded, of which Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe said: ‘When parliament enacts a special regime providing special rights and remedies, that regime may (but does not always) supersede and displace common law rights and remedies (or more general statutory rights and remedies). Whether it has that effect is a question of statutory construction.’
Lord Hoffmann said: ‘The answer, at any rate for the moment, is that unlike civilian systems, English law has no general principle that to retain money paid without any legal basis (such as debt, gift, compromise, etc) is unjust enrichment. In the Woolwich case  AC 70, 172 Lord Goff said that English law might have developed so as to recognise such a general principle – the condictio indebiti of civilian law – but had not done so. In England, the claimant has to prove that the circumstances in which the payment was made come within one of the categories which the law recognizes as sufficient to make retention by the recipient unjust. Lord Goff provided a list in the Woolwich case at pp 164-165 and the decision itself added another. [i.e. money paid by way of tax to a public body which was acting ultra vires]’
Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe and Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
Times 26-Oct-2006,  UKHL 49,  1 AC 558,  BTC 781,  Eu LR 226,  1 CMLR 14,  STI 2386,  3 WLR 781,  1 All ER 449
Limitation Act 1980 32(1), Taxes Management Act 1973 33
England and Wales
Cited – Meadows v Grand Junction Waterworks Company 1905
Cited – Woolwich Equitable Building Society v Inland Revenue Commissioners (2) HL 20-Jul-1992
The society had set out to assert that regulations were unlawful in creating a double taxation. It paid money on account of the tax demanded. It won and recovered the sums paid, but the revenue refused to pay any interest accrued on the sums paid. . .
Cited – Henderson v Merrett Syndicates Ltd HL 25-Jul-1994
Lloyds Agents Owe Care Duty to Member; no Contract
Managing agents conducted the financial affairs of the Lloyds Names belonging to the syndicates under their charge. It was alleged that they managed these affairs with a lack of due careleading to enormous losses.
Held: The assumption of . .
Cited – Marcic v Thames Water Utilities Limited HL 4-Dec-2003
The claimant’s house was regularly flooded by waters including also foul sewage from the respondent’s neighbouring premises. He sought damages and an injunction. The defendants sought to restrict the claimant to his statutory rights.
Held: The . .
Cited – Kleinwort Benson Ltd v Lincoln City Council etc HL 29-Jul-1998
Right of Recovery of Money Paid under Mistake
Kleinwort Benson had made payments to a local authority under swap agreements which were thought to be legally enforceable when made. Subsequently, a decision of the House of Lords, (Hazell v. Hammersmith and Fulham) established that such swap . .
Cited – National Provincial Bank Limited v Ainsworth HL 1965
The significance of the distinction between occupation and rights was that although the deserted wife was in actual occupation of the former matrimonial home, the quality of her rights was not such as to be capable of amounting to an overriding . .
Cited – Metallgesellschaft Ltd and Others v Inland Revenue Commissioners and Another Hoechst Ag and Another v Same ECJ 8-Mar-2001
The British law which meant that non-resident parent companies of British based businesses were not able to recover interest on payments of advance corporation tax, was discriminatory against other European based companies. Accordingly the law was . .
At First Instance – Deutsche Morgan Grenfell Group Plc v The Commissioners of Inland Revenue, HM Attorney General ChD 18-Jul-2003
The taxpayer sought to bring an action for restitution by the revenue of sums paid under a mistake of law. Under the Metallgesellschaft decision, rights of election for recovery of overpaid tax applied only between UK resident companies.
Held: . .
Appeal from – Inland Revenue and Another v Deutsche Morgan Grenfell Group Plc CA 4-Feb-2005
The company sought repayment of excess advance corporation tax payments made under a mistake of law. The question was the extent of the effect of the ruling in Klienwort Benson, in particular whether it covered sums paid as taxation, and how the law . .
Cited – Total Network Sl v Customs and Excise Commissioners CA 31-Jan-2007
The defendants suspected a carousel VAT fraud. The defendants appealed a finding that there was a viable cause of action alleging a ‘conspiracy where the unlawful means alleged is a common law offence of cheating the public revenue’. The defendants . .
Cited – Awoyomi v Radford and Another QBD 12-Jul-2007
The claimant sought damages from the defendant barristers who had represented her in criminal proceedings. They had not passed on to her the statement made by the judge in chambers that if she pleaded guilty he would not impose a sentence of . .
Cited – Sempra Metals Ltd v Inland Revenue Commissioners and Another HL 18-Jul-2007
The parties agreed that damages were payable in an action for restitution, but the sum depended upon to a calculation of interest. They disputed whether such interest should be calculated on a simple or compound basis. The company sought compound . .
Cited – Somerville v Scottish Ministers HL 24-Oct-2007
The claimants complained of their segregation while in prison. Several preliminary questions were to be decided: whether damages might be payable for breach of a Convention Right; wheher the act of a prison governor was the act of the executive; . .
Cited – Total Network Sl v Revenue and Customs HL 12-Mar-2008
The House was asked whether an action for unlawful means conspiracy was available against a participant in a missing trader intra-community, or carousel, fraud. The company appealed a finding of liability saying that the VAT Act and Regulations . .
Cited – Fender (Administrator of FG Collier and Sons Ltd) v National Westminster Bank Plc ChD 26-Sep-2008
The administrator sought declarations as to whether to treat the bank as a secured or unsecured creditor.
Held: The court directed the Administrator to recognise the Bank as a secured creditor, as if the Deed of Release had never been . .
Cited – McE, Re; McE v Prison Service of Northern Ireland and Another HL 11-Mar-2009
Complaint was made that the prisoner’s privileged conversations with his solicitors had been intercepted by the police.
Held: The Act made explicit provisions allowing such interception and set out the appropriate safeguards. The interceptions . .
Cited – Kommune and Another v DEPFA Acs Bank ComC 4-Sep-2009
Local authorities in Denmark sought to recover sums paid to the defendant banks for swap trading, saying that the payments had been outwith their powers. . .
Cited – Child Poverty Action Group, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary Of State for Work and Pensions CA 14-Oct-2009
CPAG appealed against a refusal of a declaration that the respondent could use only the 1992 Act to recover overpayment of benefits where there had been neither misrepresentation nor non-disclosure.
Held: The appeal succeeded, and the court . .
Cited – The Child Poverty Action Group v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 8-Dec-2010
The Action Group had obtained a declaration that, where an overpayment of benefits had arisen due to a miscalculation by the officers of the Department, any process of recovering the overpayment must be by the Act, and that the Department could not . .
Cited – Test Claimants In The Franked Investment Income Group Litigation v Inland Revenue SC 23-May-2012
The European Court had found the UK to have unlawfully treated differently payment of franked dividends between subsidiaries of UK companies according to whether all the UK subsidiaries were themselves UK based, thus prejudicing European . .
Cited – Zurich Insurance Plc UK Branch v International Energy Group Ltd SC 20-May-2015
A claim had been made for mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos, but the claim arose in Guernsey. Acknowledging the acute difficultis particular to the evidence in such cases, the House of Lords, in Fairchild. had introduced the Special Rule . .
Cited – Marine Trade Sa v Pioneer Freight Futures Co Ltd Bvi and Another ComC 29-Oct-2009
The parties stood to make substantial losses against each other under contracts for differences after the dramatic fall in the freight market in the financial turmoil of late 2008. . .
Cited – Littlewoods Ltd and Others v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs SC 1-Nov-2017
The appellants had overpaid under a mistake of law very substantial sums in VAT over several years. The excess had been repaid, but with simple interest and not compound interest, which the now claimed (together with other taxpayers amounting to 17 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Corporation Tax, Limitation, Equity, Taxes Management
Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.245608