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HMRC internal manual

VAT Time of supply

Tax points for specific categories of supplier: solicitors: basic tax point

The majority of supplies by a solicitor are single supplies, albeit the supply may involve work undertaken over an extended period of time. A good example of this is litigation. The basic tax point occurs when the services have been fully completed. But it can be difficult sometimes to establish precisely when this might be, especially where the matter has taken a number of years to be resolved. In these circumstances you will have to be guided by solicitors themselves subject, that is, to what is claimed being reasonable.

Some solicitors make supplies on a regular basis to an individual client. In most cases this will represent a series of separate supplies, each of which will be subject to its own basic tax point. Where it is the solicitor’s practice to bill the client periodically for all work performed or completed during the period, it is important to ensure that the basic tax point rules are complied with for each of the separate supplies. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as where a solicitor is retained and remunerated as a permanent legal adviser or to act as the client’s legal office, might this kind of relationship represent a continuous supply of services. But there are some types of legal work that are inherently continuous in nature. An example being the supply of the services of a solicitor acting as a trustee. These supplies normally fall within the scope of the time of supply rules that apply to continuous supplies (see VATTOS9150).