Newcorp UK & Ireland v HMRC (2019) 0404

The issue in this appeal case was whether digital newspapers would benefit from the same zero-rating treatment as physical newspapers. The court allowed the taxpayer's appeal, applying the "always speaking" doctrine, namely that the purpose of legislation remains, so that even if digital newspapers were not contemplated at the time the legislation was enacted, the legislation needs to be applied purposefully to remain relevant.

DLA Piper comment: The doctrine of "always speaking" is rarely applied but could well be relevant where digital services are considered by HMRC to be standard-rated, whereas the physical version is exempt or zero-rated.

R v on the application of Cobalt Data Centre 2 LLP and Cobalt Centre 3 LLP 2019 UK UT 342

On appeal, the UK upper tier tribunal allowed the taxpayer's claim based on legitimate expectation formed on the basis of HMRC practice set out in correspondence between HMRC and the industry body.

DLA Piper comment: Relying on public guidance and the internal manuals can sometimes give rise to legitimate expectation claims. However, relying on HMRC practice set out in correspondence between HMRC and an industry body is rarer, and shows that where HMRC have made their position clear, and the taxpayer has relied upon it, that position can be enforced in certain circumstances.