Amy Mannion acted for HMRC in OWD and another v HMRC [2019] UKSC 30.  In the judgment, handed down on 19 June 2019, the Supreme Court considered HMRC’s powers under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (“AWRS”).

Unanimously allowing HMRC’s appeal, the Supreme Court held that where HMRC had determined that a wholesaler was not a fit and proper person to carry on a wholesale supply of duty-paid alcohol, it had no power under either the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 s.88C or the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 s.9 to grant temporary approval pending the wholesaler’s appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.

The Supreme Court went on to consider what interim relief the High Court can grant, given the limits on HMRC’s powers, and was sceptical as to how the High Court could intervene: the High Court’s power to order a mandatory injunction is exercisable for the purpose of making a person do something that he has it within his powers to do, yet here there is nothing HMRC can properly do in the exercise of their statutory functions.  There was no definitive ruling on this point.

Judgment available on the Supreme Court website here, as well as Bailii and Lawtel (paywell).