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HMRC internal manual

VAT Cultural Services

‘Managed and administered on a voluntary basis by persons who have no direct or indirect financial interest in its activities’: Decisions of last resort

The ECJ ruled on the meaning of the term managed and administered on a voluntary basis in the case of The Zoological Society of London. It drew a distinction between the taking of key policy decisions and the implementation of them, and ruled that the term managed and administered (as applied to eligible bodies) referred to:

  • those persons designated to direct the body at its highest level according to the constitution, and
  • those who in fact take the decisions of last resort - especially in the financial area - and carry out the higher supervisory tasks.

Persons taking the decisions of last resort are those who take decisions regarding the direction of a body, particularly - but not exclusively - in the financial area, and undertake the higher supervisory tasks. They do not include those who merely execute the decisions of others. Therefore, where the decisions of a paid Chief Executive must be approved by the cultural body’s board, comprised wholly of volunteer members, this will not in itself disqualify a body from exemption, provided that the Chief Executive is not a board member with voting rights in respect of the decisions of last resort.