Scope of the exemption: individually negotiated services
Under Note 4(b) of Group 3 of Schedule 9 to the VAT Act 1994, a service is liable to VAT at the standard rate if it has been individually negotiated, regardless of its regulatory status. For services to be regarded as ‘individually negotiated’, they must be genuinely, freely, negotiated.
However, Royal Mail has a number of products which, by regulation, have to be made available on the same terms and conditions to everybody but which, in the first instance, have been individually negotiated (in relation to price and other matters). Note 5 (b) brings such supplies back into exemption, as they are not considered to be ‘individually negotiated’. Nor are, for example, volume discounts which are available to all on equal terms.
Minor contractual changes which are sufficiently immaterial so as not to affect the essential terms of the standard contract will also not cause a service to be considered as having been ‘individually negotiated’ - (such as where a customer who was particularly concerned about sensitive personal information required some additional data protection clauses to be added into an otherwise standard contract).