Wholesale Changes to Alcohol Registration

19th Jan 2017

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme started on the 1st October 2015 – in order to register a trader needed to satisfy HMRC that they were a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold such an approval. The application needed to be made between 1st October and 31st December and all wholesalers needed to apply, including those who held excise approvals – if this was complied with then you could continue trading until the outcome was determined.

With an estimated 20,000 traders applying it was always going to be a lengthy process – HMRC gave an undertaking that all cases would be determined by 1st April 2017. From 1st January 2017 it’s been a criminal offence for businesses to purchase alcohol from an unapproved UK wholesaler if the buyer knew, or who had reasonable grounds to believe, the seller was not approved.

With the final deadline fast approaching the full ramifications are coming to light, with companies and small businesses having their licence refused and facing the threat of having their stock seized. Peter Hastings comments “It seems that HMRC are considering refusing applications for reasons including:

  • If directors and senior personnel have previously been involved with revenue non-compliance
  • Issues with invoices from suppliers and being able trace the stock back to a duty point
  • Issues with the level of due diligence and a reliance on website checks

What is alarming is that HMRC are refusing applications made well in advance of the deadline and refusing the application. In such circumstances, depending on the facts and merits, in addition to an Appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, businesses should consider issuing a Judicial Review and seek an injunction to continue trading”.

Peter and his team is experienced in HMRC claims, Appeals and Injunctions can be contacted on ph@rogers-norton.co.uk or call on 01603 675639. The team acts for clients throughout the UK and abroad.