The Court considered the applicability of the European Convention of Human Rights to VAT and Excise procedures, namely whether or not the imposition by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise of (ostensibly civil) penalties for alleged dishonest evasion of tax pursuant to S.60(1) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 and s.8(1) of the Finance Act 1994 gave rise to criminal charges within the meaning of Article 6(1) of the ECHR, as each of the taxpayers contended.
Held: The Commissioners’ appeal succeeded: ‘The VAT penalty system is fair, beneficial to the taxpayer and in the public interest. The rights of the taxpayer are already adequately protected. It would be folly, in the name of an abstraction, to introduce a further unnecessary protection, whose practical consequence would be to impair the efficiency of the system at no advantage to the taxpayer.’
Potter, Mance LJJ, Sir Martin Nourse
 EWCA Civ 1048,  4 All ER 687,  HRLR 54,  BVC 415,  STI 1015, 3 ITL Rep 873,  STC 1188,  1 WLR 2253,  UKHRR 1341
European Convention of Human Rights, Value Added Tax Act 1994 60(1), Finance Act 1994 8(1)
England and Wales
Updated: 21 February 2021; Ref: scu.201308