Customers downed in landmark case


The Livewire case concerned transactions dating from April 2006, where Livewire had purchased and exported 14 consignments of mobile phones. The resulting VAT repayment, of more than £2 million, was withheld by Customs in December 2006 on the grounds Livewire “knew or should have known” about fraud in the supply chain.

Martin O’Neill of Vantis Tax, who acted for Livewire, said: “This is a terrific result, both for Livewire and other traders caught in the lengthy extended verification exercise carried out by Customs.”

Vantis added in a statement: “This win overturns Customs’ most common and damaging misconceptions about trading in the mobile phone grey market."

"The implications for hundreds of companies who’ve had repayments denied or withheld in similar circumstances will be far-reaching, and a number of the Tribunal’s key findings will have a marked effect on future cases alleged to involve defaulting or missing traders.”