This brief explains the position following the Upper Tribunal decision in the case of The Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club case (FTC/74/2011). The appeal concerned the VAT liability of green fees charged by the golf club to non-members.
Following the decision of the First Tier Tribunal, Revenue and Customs Brief 30/11 was issued which advised that HMRC had sought permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. The appeal was heard on 23-25 July 2012 and The Hon Mrs Justice Proudman handed down her decision on 30 July 2012.
Mrs Justice Proudman decided that in view of the importance of the issue for the Community in general and the number of cases that are affected by the decision the issue would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The issues to be addressed by the ECJ relate to the interpretation of Articles 134(b) and 133(d) of the Principal VAT Directive. It is HMRC's view that green fees charged by members' clubs cannot fall within the VAT exemption because in their view, these transactions are additional income which is obtained in direct competition with commercial enterprises liable for VAT.
HMRC anticipate that the case will not be heard before the summer of 2013 at the earliest.
The position remains as advised in Revenue and Customs Brief 30/11. Decisions of the First Tier Tribunal are binding only on the parties to the decision. Consequently, we do not propose to pay other claims already submitted and we are not inviting new claims in the wake of this decision. Any claims that are submitted will be rejected.
HMRC consider that businesses should continue to follow the guidance in 'Notice 701/45 Sport' and standard-rate these types of supplies made to non-members of a membership club.
Following the decision of the ECJ HMRC will issue further guidance.
Issued 24 August 2012