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07:03 on Tuesday
8 February 2005

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European Court to review anti-fraud legislation

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An important case has been proceeding through the English Courts.

This concerns the new security and joint and several liability provisions targeting the mobile telephone and computer chip markets, where substantial fraud has been taking place.

The case was brought by the Federation of Technological Industries, and 53 of its members. It seems FTI was established simply to oppose these new rules. Its website - www.fti.org.uk - speaks of little else. They have appointed Andrew Young as their leading Counsel.

It is interesting to read various public comments, by C&E, and by FTI, which indicate the large disagreement between the parties over the issues. I have to say that Customsí pronouncements have been selective and partisan.

The key issue, argued before the Court of Appeal in July, was whether C&E can make provisions that make a person other the person liable for the tax to be jointly and severally liable for VAT (EEC 6th VAT Directive, art 21.3). Such provisions have existed in relation to formal Representatives for persons established in a different Member State.

C&E argued strongly that the provision was clear, and that the matter should not be referred to the European Court, and thereby further delay their fight against fraud. FTI argued that the power under art 21.3 was not so clear cut. The Court held, by 2 to 1, that the case should be referred.

At the moment, the volume of business in mobile telephones and computer chips is not large (in the wholesale sector), which is a symptom of the effectiveness of Customsí work in this area.

(C&E Comrs v Federation of Technological Industries & 53 others, [2004]ECWA Civ 1020)

August 2004




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