Court of Appeal Rejects Brewers’ Duty Arguments

10 Feb 2012

Carlsberg (UK) Ltd and Inbev (UK) Ltd v HMRC [2012] EWCA Civ 82, 8 February 2012 (CA)

The Court of Appeal has held that brewers are not entitled to calculate beer duty on a “per container” basis and consequently round down the duty to the nearest penny on that basis.  The Court, dismissing appeals from the Upper Tribunal, rejected the brewers’ arguments that, under the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 and the Beer Regulations 1993, duty on beer is to be assessed on each container and the rounding down of duty to the nearest penny under section 137(4) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (while it was in force) was therefore to be carried out in relation to the duty assessed on each container.  Although seemingly “somewhat esoteric, even abstruse”, the case is of (historic) importance to the brewing industry; the amount at issue in the appeals was of the order of £28 million.

Andrew Macnab acted for HMRC in the CA and below.