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Debts: VAT

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 81705, tabled on 28 August 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of charging debtors VAT on enforcement fees on other additional costs being passed onto the debtor not detailed in the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.

Answered on

8 September 2020

The draft guidance on the treatment of VAT on High Court Enforcement fees reflects the current law, both in the 2014 Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 and at common law.

The 2014 Regulations made changes to the fees provisions in the HCEO Regulations 2004. Both the 2004 HCEO Regulations and 2014 Regulations allow for fees to be charged to the debtor. The 2014 Regulations were not intended to change the previously understood position at common law in relation to the recoverability of enforcement costs properly incurred including VAT where the creditor cannot account for it with HMRC, for example because they are not VAT registered.

Some of the authorities in support of the proposition that a debtor may be pursued for a creditor’s enforcement costs and as to the continuing relevance of the common law to this area are Montague v Davies, Benachi & Co [1911] 2 K.B. 595 and Business Finance Ltd v Bellagio Hospitality WB Ltd [2019] EWHC 1920 (QB). Disbursements are dealt with separately under the regulations.

As the draft guidance reflects the current law we do not envision additional costs being passed on to the debtor which are not included in the 2014 Regulations.

The Government proposes to publish the guidance on the treatment of VAT on High Court Enforcement fees as soon as possible.