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HMRC internal manual

Excise Assessments Interim Guidance

Liability including joint and several liability: other cases involving joint and several liability

There are some liability provisions which identify a number of persons as having a joint and several liability to pay duty but do not separate them into those with primary and those with secondary liability. An example of this is regulation 21 in the Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations 1999.

In these cases, only one assessment should be made, but it should be notified to all of those persons listed as being joint and severally liable. The assessment ought to be made in respect of the authorised/approved person.

For example, in the case of General Betting Duty, the bookmaker is liable to pay the duty due on bets made with him in an accounting period. However section 5B of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981 goes on to say that; “the duty may be recovered from the holder of a bookmaker’s permit for the business in the course of which the bets were made; a person responsible for the management of that business, or where the bookmaker is a company, a director.”

In those circumstances you would make an assessment in respect of the bookmaker only, but notify that assessment to all of the persons (so far as relevant) listed in the legislation.

Note the difference in terminology - “the duty may be recovered from …”, rather than “the persons jointly and severally liable to pay …”.

This may indicate a different approach where recovery is concerned, but has no bearing on the assessment, which should be made and notified to the person with primary liability.