A Carry and Carry in North London is celebrating after a High Court Judge ordered HM Revenue and Customs to give back £1.5 million worth of goods that were being held unlawfully.
The Millennium Cash and Carry in Barking was facing financial disaster when the goods were detained in February. HMRC thought that the excise duty on the beer, wines and spirits had not been paid when in fact it had. When the David and Goliath battle finally came to court in May, a senior judge backed the small family business and told customs officers to give back every drop of their stock.
A director of the Millennium Cash and Carry said that the four-month battle had been “exhausting, but it was worth every second and every bit of energy we put into it. They raided the cash and carry and our warehouse in February and took about 40% of our stock – on a hunch! It’s a huge relief that they backed down, and we’ve been vindicated, but the fight goes on”.
HMRC’s lawyers were forced to concede that the duty had been paid, and must now return all the goods that haven’t been destroyed as well as paying in excess of £150,000 in legal costs. The owners, who are represented by Aegis Tax LLP, now says he will sue for damages arising from the significant loss of customers, the damage to the reputation of the business and having had to lay off staff while the case dragged on.
The Cash and Carry’s Lawyer, Philip Coppell QC described HMRC’s actions as a “prolonged and deliberate misuse of highly invasive powers.” During the case he had argued that the detention and seizures were unlawful.
The Millennium Group are seeking compensation from HMRC in respect of the financial damage to the business, however the Managing Director asked, “What about the effect on our reputation? Can the government compensate us for that?”