LL4CH      Half Unit
VAT and VAT Litigation: UK, EU and Global Perspectives

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Blackwell


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


This course has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.


This course is suitable for all LLM students with no prior knowledge of tax or litigation required.

Course content

How do you present a successful legal argument? How do judges choose between plausible but alternative legal arguments put by counsel? How strategic is the state when litigating? Why does the state win so frequently in tax cases? How useful are data science/artificial intelligence approaches, including text mining previous decisions, in informing litigation? This course will address these and similar questions in the context of VAT/GST litigation in the UK, EU and Australia.

Students will thus develop both an understanding of the social science literature on litigation, along with an understanding of VAT law: not merely learning the rules but developing a critical understanding of their application.

The substantive VAT law content of this course will vary year-to-year, as it will aim to draw on disputes presently before the courts and tribunals to give students the opportunity to observe and consider litigated cases. Topics covered are likely to include the scope of VAT and the charge to tax, the taxable person, supply and consideration, valuation, VAT registration, tax points, the right to deduct, place of transactions, reliefs and exemptions and accounting for and administration of VAT.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Lent Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to submit one 2,000 word formative essay or an equivalent assignment.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists will be provided during the course via Moodle.

Recommended preliminary reading:

Hartley Foster, “VAT – The Foundations” (Chapter 50) in Anne Fairpo and David Salter (eds), Revenue Law: Principles and Practice (Bloomsbury Professional, 2019)

Daniel Kessler, Thomas Meites, and Geoffrey Miller. "Explaining deviations from the fifty-percent rule: A multimodal approach to the selection of cases for litigation." The Journal of Legal Studies 25.1 (1996): 233-259.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills