It was a brilliant day on Tuesday March 23 in London, both weatherwise and in the High Court where Tajinder Singh, armed with solicitor Amrit Johal, partner of legal firm Rainer Hughes, won their battle against HMRC.
As Tajinder says, it was David against Goliath and he is elated with the result.
Now a little background. I first reported (C-Store, September 16) that HMRC carried out a swoop last June in the West Midlands. I didn’t name Tajinder, but identified him as a small wholesaler with six retail premises.
He was incensed at the way Customs had detained stocks of alcohol just acting on a hunch and saying some labels (some pre-dating duty stamps) ‘didn’t look right’. The officials’ attitude - even though the paperwork was in place - was ‘prove it’.
Well, now he has.
Earlier this year the editor reported (C-Store, February 2) that high-profile Eastenders cash and carry won an appeal, following raids on depots, which clarified the need for factual evidence rather than just suspicion on the part of HMRC. This was considered a landmark ruling, leaving the way clear for Eastenders to pursue damages and for far smaller businesses, such as Tajinder’s, to win their cases.
In Tajinder’s case the newly-appointed High Court judge declared such detentions by HMRC as unlawful.
Tajinder says: “I am chuffed with what Amrit and Rainer Hughes have achieved. Reputation is everything in retailing and people are getting tarnished.”
He believes that no other retailer should go through the same experience and is working with legal firm Rainer Hughes to set up some sort of trade body to act collectively.
Should you have been subjected to similar seizures from HMRC and are convinced that you have done nothing wrong and have correct receipts, then I urge you to contact Amrit Johal on 07500 833228.