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HMRC internal manual

Spirits Production Manual

General principles - Purpose and Application of the Law

The law provides the framework for the regime. Amongst other things it defines the scope of the regime, the trader’s obligations and the powers which Parliament has granted the Commissioners to administer and protect the revenue. In the case of distilleries, the responsibility for deciding how to exercise those discretionary powersis laid to:

  • The Alcohol Team, Indirect Tax - policy matters and interpretation of the law;
  • The Holding and Movement Unit of Expertise  - guidance on technical issues related to spirits production regime ; and
  • The Holding and Movement Team, Indirect Tax – warehousing policy.

The strategy of the Alcohol Team, Indirect Tax for the administration of spirit production in the UK is reflected in the Spirits Regulations 1991 and in the advice on policy and application contained in Section 3000 of this guidance.

There will be occasions when you will be faced with issues which are not precisely covered by these guidelines. In such cases you, or your line manager, will need to consider whether or not a trader’s request or problem can be accommodated within the law.

When searching for a legal provision, or applying what appears to be a relevant provision, you will need to interpret the law. Always bear in mind that:

  • the law states what can or in some cases what cannot be done;
  • some legal provisions specify that, in particular circumstances, something is to be done, or a particular procedure is to be followed - these provisions leave no discretion to the Commissioners; and
  • where the law appears to be silent on an issue it is likely that the Commissioners do not have the legal powers to permit it.

We expect that most problems will be resolved locally. However, issues which may affect policy or practices in other parts of the country should be referred to the above named points of contact as appropriate.