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HMRC internal manual

VAT Clothing

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HM Revenue & Customs
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The design test-is the article designed for young children?: Headgear

Young children’s heads are proportionately larger than older persons’ and so many children’s hats will also fit adults. There is therefore no generally applicable maximum measurement for children’s headgear. References in Notice714 to ‘holding out for sale’ as the main criteria are relevant only for types of hat which can be seen to be children’s wear at a glance. However, where there is no specific style differentiation between children’s and adults’ wear, it is likely that only the very smallest sizes of headwear are likely to pass the ‘design’ test.

In the case of Benrose Ltd t/a Multi-Stock Company (LON/98/7048), the Tribunal had to decide whether knitted acrylic hats with football club logos were “unsuitable for older persons”.

It was common ground that “suitability” in this context did not merely refer to size, but also included “suitability” as a matter of design or style. The question of size was not seen as of any great significance because the hats were sufficiently stretchable to enable them to be worn by adults even though they were not designed for them.

The Appellant stated that the hats were intended as a cheap imitation of the “official” football club hats, which (the Appellant said) were worn by older football supporters who would “not be seen dead” in their cheap imitations.

The Tribunal accepted the Appellant’s verbal evidence and found that the hats in question were not “suitable for older persons” in the sense that “they would not in general be acceptable headwear for adults or children over 14.”

This decision stresses the point that size is not always the crucial test and that you should also consider the design or style of the garment.