Owain Thomas KC and Paul Reynolds are appearing before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on 28 September 2022 where they will be representing the United Kingdom in relation to infraction proceedings brought against the UK by the European Commission. In the infraction proceedings, brought several weeks before the end of the UK’s Brexit transition period, the Commission alleges that the UK did not act sufficiently promptly to enact regulations preventing the use of ‘red diesel’ by private pleasure boats, following a 2018 judgment from the Court. The Commission seeks a penalty of over €25 million. The UK denies that it did not act sufficiently promptly, but instead acted within a reasonable period of time in light of the many practical obstacles.

The proceedings are notable for being the first time that the United Kingdom has ever faced infraction proceedings brought by the European Commission for an alleged failure to promptly comply with a CJEU judgment. They are also interesting as they raise questions of how any penalty is to be calculated following the end of the Brexit transition period, since from that time onwards EU law applied to the UK only in respect of Northern Ireland (in light of the Northern Ireland Protocol). It is the UK’s position that this serves to significantly lessen the seriousness of the alleged non-compliance, and also means that Northern Irish GDP (rather than UK GDP) is relevant when calculating any penalty for that period.

Owain Thomas KC has extensive experience of appearing in the CJEU. His practice covers many aspects of indirect tax including VAT, customs and related European law. He is also a specialist in clinical negligence and professional discipline.

Paul Reynolds has a busy practice specialising in indirect tax (VAT and customs), ratings law, public inquiries, and clinical negligence.