V1.287 Estoppel

Estoppel rests on the principle that “a man shall not be allowed to blow hot and cold—to affirm at one time and deny at another” by “making a claim on those whom he has deluded to their disadvantage, and founding that claim on the very matters of the delusion”1. It is suggested that three hurdles must be surmounted.

(i) Have HMRC made a representation on which the taxpayer can rely?

In respect of VAT, a tribunal has said2

“Estoppel is a doctrine which prevents a person from acting inconsistently with a representation which he has made to the other party, in reliance upon which the other party has acted to his detriment. The representation may be by words, conduct or silence, but it must be a representation of existing fact and not a representation of law or of intention.”

Four factors may be identified—

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