In Nottingham Forest Football Club Limited v HMRC [2024] UKUT 00145, the Upper Tribunal (UT) found that a VAT assessment for VAT errors arising from a change in its accounting system was made by HMRC was made 'in time'. The club had failed to show otherwise and lost its appeal as a result.


  • On 20 April 2018, HMRC visited Nottingham Forest Football Club to discuss how the business operated and its accounting systems. HMRC took electronic accounting information from the club, including a copy of the general ledger from its Navision accounting software.
  • Further information was obtained from Nottingham Forest on 9 May 2018, including a Sage accounting software backup.
  • HMRC identified VAT errors arising on the club's change of accounting software from Sage to Navison and issued a VAT assessment totalling £345,561 on 29 April 2019.
  • In this case, the time limit for HMRC to Raise an assessment was one year after evidence of the facts came to their knowledge, sufficient in the opinion of the Commissioners to justify the making of the assessment.
  • Following an unsuccessful Statutory review, Nottingham Forest Appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) arguing the assessment was raised out of time as it had been raised over a year after the initial provision of information.
  • The FTT found that:
    • Nottingham Forest did not provide evidence to show that the initial information provided on 20 April 2018 was sufficient to justify the making of the assessment.
    • It could not conclude the information provided on 9 May 2018 was irrelevant to the assessment raised.
    • The time limit for raising the assessment expired on 9 May 2019, meaning the assessment in April 2019 was in time.

Nottingham Forest appealed to the Upper Tribunal (UT), which found that:

  • The FTT had applied the correct legal test.
    • As the FTT was unable to determine the necessary facts in the absence of relevant evidence, it had to decide the case on the burden of proof.
  • The burden of proof lay with Nottingham Forest.
    • The football club had to demonstrate that the assessment was made out of time, based on when HMRC had the necessary evidence.
  • The FTT was unable to make any finding about the two sets of accounting data and what evidence of facts they contained.
    • The FTT could not conclude that HMRC knew the facts sufficiently to justify making an assessment on 20 April.
    • This did not mean the FTT found that HMRC first had evidence of the facts sufficient to justify making an assessment on 9 May 2018.
  • Nottingham Forest failed to discharge the burden of proof on the balance of probabilities that the assessment was made out of time.
    • The club did not demonstrate that evidence of facts, sufficient to justify making an assessment, came to HMRC’s knowledge on 20 April 2019.

The appeal was dismissed.

Useful guides on this topic

Assessments: Best judgement & time limits
What is a 'best judgment' assessment for VAT? When can HMRC raise one? What are your rights of appeal? How do you displace a best judgment assessment? What are the time limits for a VAT assessment?

Appeals: VAT
How do I appeal a VAT penalty? How can I request a Statutory Review? How do I appeal an HMRC decision?

Statutory Review (by HMRC)
What is a Statutory Review? When does HMRC offer a Statutory Review? Is it automatic? What happens in a Statutory Review? Can you challenge a Statutory Review's findings? Can you influence a Statutory Review? When does HMRC offer a Statutory Review? 

External link

Nottingham Forest Football Club Limited v HMRC [2024] UKUT 00145