Case details

JP Whitter (Water Well Engineers) Limited (Appellant) v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (Respondent)

Case ID: UKSC 2017/0016

Case summary


Whether, when HMRC exercise discretion to cancel gross payment registration, they are required to consider the impact on the person holding that registration.


The appeal concerns the power of the Respondent, HMRC, to cancel gross payment registration under the Construction Industry Scheme ("CIS"). CIS requires those engaging sub-contractors in the construction industry to pay those sub-contractors under deduction of tax and account for tax to HMRC, unless the sub-contractor is registered for gross payment. If the sub-contractor is so registered, they are paid their fees in full. There are various requirements that a sub-contractor seeking gross payment registration must fulfil, including complying with all tax obligations on time. Registration may be cancelled by HMRC If the sub-contractor ceases to satisfy these requirements, including, as is relevant to this appeal, where it appears to them that a fresh application for registration would be refused (s.66(1)(a) Finance Act 2004). This power is discretionary. The appellant is a relatively small family-owned and operated company, carrying on business as water well engineers. The appellant failed to comply with the requirements for registration on several occasions, leading to the cancellation of their registration in May 2011. The appellant contends that HMRC erred in failing to take in to account the impact on its business of a cancellation of its registration.

Judgment appealed

[2016] EWCA Civ 1160



JP Whitter (Waterwell Engineers) Limited


Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (Respondent)



Lord Mance, Lord Sumption, Lord Carnwath, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs

Hearing start date

10 May 2018

Hearing finish date

10 May 2018