Nell Gwynn House Maintenance Fund v Commissioners of Customs and Excise: HL 15 Dec 1998

Trustees who managed a group of apartments argued that they did not themselves provide staff services to the tenants, but rather arranged for the staff to provide services to them.
Held: The contract providing cleaning and other services, by a maintenance fund for a block of flats, was a VATable supply by the Trustees who employed the staff to deliver the services. It was a service delivered by the Trustees through the medium of the employees.
The House saw a clear distinction in principle between (i) the case when the relevant expenses paid have been incurred in the course of making his own supply of services to the tenant and as part of the whole of the services rendered by him to the tenant; and (ii) the case where specific services have been supplied by an external supplier to the tenant, not to the trustees, and the trustees have merely acted as the tenants’ known and authorised representative in paying the service. Only in this second case can the amounts of the payments qualify for treatment as disbursements for VAT purposes, and on this account as constituting no part of the consideration for the trustees’ own services to the tenants.


Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Nolan, Lord Clyde, Lord Hutton


Times 17-Dec-1998, [1998] UKHL 50, [1999] 1 All ER 385, [1999] 1 WLR 174, [1999] STC 79


House of Lords, Bailii


England and Wales


Appeal fromTrustees of the Nell Gwynn House Maintenance Fund v Commissioners of Customs and Excise CA 1996
. .
CitedApple and Pear Development Council v Commissioners of Customs and Excise ECJ 8-Mar-1988
Consideration means ‘everything received in return for the supply of services or the provision of services’. . .
CitedH J Glawe Spiel- und Unterhaltungsgerate Aufstellungsgesellschaft mbH and Co KG v Finanzamt Hamburg-Barmbek-Uhlenhorst ECJ 5-May-1994
Europa The taxable amount in respect of a provision of services within the meaning of Article 11 A(1)(a) of the Sixth Directive 77/388 consists of the consideration actually received in return for the service . .
CitedArgos Distributors v Commissioners of Customs and Excise ECJ 24-Oct-1996
VAT was payable on the value of a discount voucher only, and not on the full price of the goods. ‘According to the court’s settled case law, the taxable amount for the supply of goods or services is represented by the consideration actually received . .
CitedCommissioners of Customs and Excise v First National Bank of Chicago ECJ 14-Jul-1998
The Bank dealt in foreign exchange, not charging a commission, but relying on the profit it made over a period between the prices at which respectively it bought and sold the currency. The Bank contended that the foreign exchange transactions were . .
CitedCustoms and Excise Commissioners v Plantiford 5-Nov-1998
The court was asked whether a sum for packing and postage which the purchaser agreed to pay had to be added to the price of the goods for the purpose of constituting the consideration for the supply of such goods by the plaintiff.
Held: the . .
CitedSkatteministeriet v Henriksen ECJ 13-Jul-1989
Europa Article 13B(b ) of the Sixth Directive ( 77/388 ) on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes must be interpreted as meaning that the phrase ‘premises and sites for . .
CitedBritish Airways Plc v Customs and Excise Commissioners 1990
The taxpayer carried paying passengers. The travel was zero-rated. They also supplied in-flight food, which the Commissioners sought to hold taxable as a separate supply.
Held: The motives of the tax-payer and traveller were irrelevant. The . .
CitedBritish United Provident Association Limited v Commissioners of Customs and Excise; etc Admn 23-Jan-1997
In determining whether what would otherwise be two supplies should be regarded as a single supply the court has to ask itself whether one element is an ‘integral part’ of the other, or is ‘ancillary’ or ‘incidental’ to the other; or (in the . .

Cited by:

CitedBarratt, Goff and Tomlinson and The Law Society As Intervenor v Revenue and Customs FTTTx 20-Jan-2011
FTTTx VAT – disbursements – whether fees paid for medical records and medico-legal reports by solicitors acting for clients in personal injury and medical negligence claims disbursements and thus outside scope of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

VAT, Landlord and Tenant

Updated: 23 May 2022; Ref: scu.135191