B, a firm of solicitors, successfully appealed against a decision of the commissioners that fees charged by medical professionals for providing medical records and medico-legal reports for litigation purposes were part of a VAT-inclusive supply of legal services, and were not disbursements within the meaning of Directive 2006/112 art.79(c).

Obtaining the medical records and reports was distinct from their use. B’s clients could obtain and pay for the documents themselves, and the normal practice of the solicitor paying for the documents and then recharging the client was for administrative convenience. It was the solicitor’s use of the reports (rather than the obtaining of them) that formed part of the service provided to the client. In addition, a solicitor paid to obtain medical documents in the interests of his client, and not in his own interest. It was the client who needed the reports to establish the extent and type of his injuries, and accordingly, the court favoured the argument that, for VAT purposes, medical records and reports were supplied to the client, who permitted the solicitor to make relevant use of them.  

Barratt, Goff & Tomlinson (A Firm) v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2011] UKFTT 71 (TC)