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Bookit & National Exhibition Centre – CJEU Judgment dates confirmed

Bookit & National Exhibition Centrer

The CJEU has updated its diary to confirm that judgment will be delivered on these two cases on Thursday 26 May. While these cases have not been joined, they were heard together and judgment is being given on them at the same time. The cases concern card handling services and whether they fall within Article 13B(d)(3) of the Sixth Directive, now Article 135(1)(d) VAT Directive.


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Article 13B(d)(3) of the Sixth Directive, now Article 135(1)(d) VAT Directive, exempts: 

“Transactions, including negotiation, concerning deposit and current accounts, payments, transfers, debts, cheques and other negotiable instruments, but excluding debt collection.

Bookit was the first case to be referred in December 2014 by the First-tier Tribunal (FTT). The reference can be accessed here. The reference essentially asks:

  • Under Article 135(1)(d) of the VAT Directive, as interpreted by SDC (C-2/95) (see para 66), what are the relevant principles to be applied in determining whether or not a debit and credit card handling service has "the effect of transferring funds and entail[s] changes in the legal and financial situation"
  • As a matter of principle, what factors distinguish (a) a service which consists in the provision of financial information without which a payment would not be made but which do not fall within the exemption such as in Nordea Pankki Suomi (C-350/10) from (b) a data handling service which functionally has the effect of transferring funds and which the CJEU has identified as therefore being capable of falling within the exemption (such as in SDC at paragraph 66)? 
  • In particular, and in the context of debit and credit card handling services:

- Does the exemption apply to such services which result in a transfer of funds but which do not include the task of making a debit to one account and a corresponding credit to another account?

- Does entitlement to the exemption depend on whether the service provider itself obtains authorisation codes directly from the cardholder's bank, or alternatively obtains those codes via its merchant acquirer bank?

National Exhibition Centre (NEC) was referred later in March 2015 by the Upper Tribunal (UT). The referral can be accessed here. The first set of questions in NEC are broadly identical to Bookit. However, in the NEC a second additional question focuses on debt collection which is excluded from the exemption. In particular it considers in the light of AXA (C-175/09) if the supply is debt collection where the service is being supplied to the person from whom payment is due and whether a debt even exists to be collected. 


For further information please contact: 

Karen Killington 

T: +44 20 76944685


Steve Powell

T: +44 20 73112746

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