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Council Wins Landmark VAT Case Worth Estimated £50M - £70M

Mid Ulster District Council has won a landmark VAT case estimated to be worth between £50M and £70M in refunds for the local government sector in Northern Ireland.
The case centred on whether VAT should be payable on charges paid by members of the public for access to sports, recreation and leisure facilities provided by councils.
The tribunal agreed with the Council that charges paid since 2006 were outside the scope of the VAT regime and that the VAT should be repaid, which will now result in a multi-million pound payback for all 11 councils here.
Chair of the Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan, called the ruling a ‘mammoth victory’:

This is a mammoth victory from which each and every council here, and their ratepayers, will benefit substantially. Given the significant financial pressures which we all face as a result of the pandemic, the timing could not be any better. While our sector gains as a whole, this case would not even have been taken, let alone succeeded without Mid Ulster’s Finance Director, JJ Tohill. JJ’s expertise, hard work and dogged determination over a sustained period, together with a brilliant legal team, has brought us all to this landmark win.

The legal case was led by barristers Melanie Hall QC and Harry Gillow, supported by DLA Piper UK’s London VAT team. 

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