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Keesing (UK) Limited v. Commissioners of Customs & Excise – VAT Tribunal

This case concerns the analysis of the arrangements which the Appellant magazine publishing company made with the distributors. It was important to discern whether Keesing acted as agent or principal. If the distributor was the agent of the publisher it would be possible for the Appellant to take advantage of the Extra Statutory Concession in relation to free gifts forming less than 20% of the total cost of a publication which then enjoy zero-rating treatment for printed material. The appeal was dismissed because the Tribunal found that the Appellant and its distributor both acted as principals. However, the case is important because it demonstrates the costs so that the Tribunal is prepared to award costs against the Commissioners where they fail to comply with their directions. A directions hearing had been held in February 2000 and one of the directions was that all witness statement should be served no later than 20 days before the hearing. The Commissioners witness statement was served 4 days before the date of the hearing and the Tribunal made an award of costs in the Appellants favour as a result.

Hugh McKay, instructed by Messrs. Fraser Russell (now merged with Baker Tilly), for the Appellant

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