Supplies of education and training that had been made by the BBC were found to be exempted from VAT

[2016] EWCA Civ 114 (02 March 2016)

This case arose out of a claim brought by the British Broadcasting Corporation (“the BBC”) for the repayment of VAT on supplies of services to the Open University (“the OU”) on the ground that the supplies were exempt under Article 13A(1)(i) of Directive 77/388/EEC (“the Sixth VAT Directive”) as supplies of education or training. The services consisted of the production and broadcasting of television and radio programmes relating to OU courses.

The Court of Appeal affirmed that BBC was not a body governed by public law within Article 13A(1)(i) because during the relevant period the BBC was not carrying on its activities as part of the public administration. Nevertheless, the BBC had the requisite educational aim specified in the same Article – it provided the whole framework of facilities, teaching materials, technical resources, educational policy and organisational infrastructure to deliver its distance learning direct to children and young people and those seeking vocational training or retraining. Furthermore, it was decided that during the relevant period the BBC had the same objects as public bodies specified in the first part of Article 13A(1)(i) so that it could rely on the exemption.

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