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Licence Revocation Threat Averted by Prompt Action

Government regulatory decisions can have an instant and catastrophic impact on businesses, but prompt legal action can ensure that such damage is not unfairly inflicted. The point was made in the case of a company whose licence to warehouse duty suspended goods was revoked.

HM Revenue and Customs revoked the company's licence on the basis that it was not a 'fit and proper person' to enjoy the privilege of warehousing goods on which full excise duty had not been paid. The company was given about two weeks' notice of the decision coming into effect, but most of that period fell within the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Faced with grave financial and reputational damage, the company was advised to make an emergency telephone application to a High Court judge and was granted a temporary injunction suspending the revocation for a further period of about three weeks.

Given the risk that the company would otherwise suffer damage from which it would not recover, the judge found that the balance of convenience fell in favour of maintaining the status quo for a brief period during which the company would have the opportunity to gather evidence in its defence.

The judge set a date for a hearing at which the company will seek to extend the injunction until its appeal against the revocation can be heard by the First-tier Tribunal. The company was also granted an anonymity order to protect its reputation pending final resolution of the matter.

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