Natasha Barnes acted for HMRC in R (on the application of Seabrook Warehousing Ltd) v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 1357. The Claimant taxpayer challenged (a) the condition that all overseas traders, trading in duty suspended goods, appoint a UK-established duty representative and (b) the lawfulness of due diligence requirements imposed on over 3,000 alcohol wholesale traders.

Seabrooks argued that the requirements had no basis in EU law, breached the fundamental principle of freedom of movement of goods and were disproportionate. By contrast, HMRC argued that these conditions were key tools in combating excise fraud which costs the UK over £1 billion a year in lost tax.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the taxpayer’s challenge holding that the regulations and due diligence requirements imposed on alcohol traders were justified and proportionate.