McGrigors challenges UK VAT refund stance

A team of McGrigors tax litigation lawyers is bringing a test case against the UK Government following a landmark decision by the Euro-pean Court of Justice (ECJ).

The ruling, on 26 May, said that companies which float or issue shares privately should be able to recover the VAT on the costs of the transaction. Previously the tax was irrecoverable, but the decision could see companies reclaiming millions in tax on fees from lawyers, accountants, PRs and even printers.

McGrigors senior associate Jason Collins said he believed companies could also claim refunds where they had been denied recovery in the past. “The VAT refunds system only permits claims for VAT incurred up to three years ago,” he said. “However, we think we can go back further through High Court action.”

The ruling was on a case brought by General Electric subsidiary Kretztechnik, an Austrian medical device supplier. It was aiming to recover the VAT on professional fees following its listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Following an ECJ Advocate-General opinion in February, McGrigors talked to companies that floated more than three years ago about bringing a High Court claim.

AIM’s success over the last three years would make any class action even more valuable. Between 1996 and 2002 there were 2,500 companies on AIM. Since 2002, another 2,500 have listed. On the main market there have been around 100 listings in the last three years, with 1,700 more than three years ago.