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HMRC internal manual

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme

Fit and proper test: overview

The legislation states that the Commissioners may authorise applicants only if they are satisfied that they are considered a fit and proper person to carry on a controlled activity. The aim of the fit and proper test is to ensure that businesses who present a risk to the revenue are excluded from being approved as alcohol wholesalers and to make it more difficult for fraudulent businesses to operate.  Applicants must meet or exceed a particular level of suitability, compliance and integrity in how they conduct, or appear likely to conduct, their tax affairs with us.

You must consider applications in the light of their suitability to be approved. This includes a judgement on whether what is known about any person or persons associated with the business reasonably suggests a significant real or potential risk to the revenue.

The Commissioners are obliged to act reasonably and proportionately with respect to any condition, restriction or requirement. Officers are acting on behalf of the Commissioners and are also obliged to arrive at reasonable decisions given the information that they have available to consider in each case. In order to arrive at a reasonable decision, you must be able to demonstrate that you have considered all the available facts and challenged these effectively before making your decision. In reaching your decision you should take into account the fit and proper criteria at AWRS50200. These individual criteria are not specified in law and are not necessarily an exhaustive list. You must consider and test all the information available to you and arrive at a sensible conclusion that, if necessary, can be clearly put before a review officer or tribunal Chairperson. If you have not already done so, you should familiarise yourself with the guidance on disclosure at  ARTG8505

In any case, you need to take into account the full facts and circumstances of the application. It is not possible to detail every circumstance that may occur or how these may interact together in individual cases. The key test to be applied in any case is whether, on the balance of evidence, you believe that approving the application is likely to create a real risk to the revenue, so that the public interest in removing that risk outweighs the private interest of the applicant in being approved. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Your decision will have to withstand scrutiny, in particular, it will be tested to check it was proportionate and reasonable. Your evidence will be disclosable to the tribunal.