Sarabjit Singh, acting for HMRC, has won an appeal brought by the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA) in the Upper Tribunal, heard by Morgan J. The case concerned the issue of whether BALPPA could recover allegedly overpaid VAT on the basis that its primary purpose was political lobbying and that it was, accordingly, exempt from VAT. HMRC succeeded on all grounds. Morgan J decided that BALPPA was not an exempt body and that it was not entitled to a VAT repayment in any event as such a repayment would amount to its unjust enrichment.
The judgment can be found here.
The decision is the latest in a line of victories for Sarabjit in major tax cases in the last 12 months. These include Tui Travel Plc v HMRC  UKFTT 75 (TC) (judgment here), a case that concerned a claim by travel agents for repayment of approximately ｣150 million in VAT allegedly overpaid on commissions received from tour operators for selling package holidays, and South African Tourist Board v HMRC  UKFTT 780 (TC) (judgment here), which involved the issue of whether a tourist board was making supplies of services for consideration to the South African Government or was simply a statutory body carrying out its statutory duties for which it received grant funding. Sarabjit is instructed as sole counsel in other important tax litigation such as the British Film Institute case due to be heard by the Upper Tribunal, which will have significant implications for cultural bodies seeking to rely on the cultural exemption.