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UK confirms VAT law retains EU interpretation

VAT and excise law still interpretated in line with EU VAT law

HMRC has confirmed that UK VAT and excise legislation should continue to be interrupted as EU law three years after Brexit (UK left the EU VAT union on 1 January 2021). But the ‘direct effect’ of EU law has been removed – which may effect sectors like fund management and financial intermediation, where there are generally corresponding domestic provisions that give the same treatment.

The supremacy of EU law was ended by the Brexit Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act. Drawing on rights and principles that have always applied for interpreting UK law, including the principle of abuse. This means, principle of consistent interpretation (sometimes known as the ‘Marleasing’ principle) continues to apply in interpreting VAT and excise legislation.

The amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 made by section 6 of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 will apply to VAT and excise legislation as they do more generally. This includes the rules that the courts must apply in interpreting legislation, including the application of case law.


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