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European Union court says bridge is a sport, should be tax-exempt in Britain

15 Juin 2017

The comments are not legally binding, but are normally followed by United Kingdom judges. The ruling could cause conflict as British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to make the legal changes necessary to stop the European court from delivering legally binding judgements on the country which is set to leave the EU in 2019. The EBU argued it ought to be able to reclaim money under EU VAT exemptions for sporting supplies because of the mental strain required for bridge. The HRMC argued bridge wasn't a sport because it didn't require significant physical activity, exertion or skill.

The case was brought to the ECJ after a dispute between the English Bridge Union (EBU) and Britain's Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

So-called duplicate bridge is considered a sport by the tax authorities of Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium, but not by Ireland and Sweden.

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It is played by pairs of people in fours in clubs, tournaments, and online, and was classified as a sport by the International Olympic Committee in 1998.

In the run-up to the referendum the European Court of Justice faced criticism from Leave campaigners, who said the United Kingdom lost most of its cases to the court.

However, the court has backed London on cases involving challenges to British welfare rules and has upheld sanctions on Russian Federation also challenged by Moscow that Britain strongly supports.

European Union court says bridge is a sport, should be tax-exempt in Britain