C-592/15 British Film Institute v HMRC

02 February 2017
Author: Joseph Irwin

VAT exemption not of direct effect

The CJEU held here, contrary to the decisions of the UK First-tier and Upper Tax Tribunals, that Article 13A(1)(n) of Sixth Council Directive 77/388/EEC, which exempts from VAT the provision of “certain cultural services… supplied by bodies governed by public law”, was not sufficiently clear and precise so as to have direct effect.

The significance of this was that The British Film Institute was not able to rely on the directive itself to recover tax paid in relation to periods prior to the UK implementing it into domestic law. The decision provides useful guidance as to the court’s approach where a Member State fails to implement a directive correctly or within the prescribed time-frame and the potential risks which taxpayers may face in such circumstances.

This article appears in the JHA February 2017 Tax Newsletter, which also features:


  1. C-317/15 X v Staatssecretaris van Financiën by Joseph Irwin
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