Something of a blow for those pursuing the case for duty deferment, is last month’s overturning of a landmark tax verdict that could have brought a significant cashflow boost to many retailers (see News page 4, and News Extra, page 10).

It was just a year ago that Brobot Petroleum successfully appealed via the First Tier Tax Tribunal against HMRC imposition of unreasonable conditions, to obtain the crucial excise duty Deferment Account Number (DAN) for oil products. It was such good news at the time.

The case was prepared and presented by Alan Powell for Alan Powell Associates Ltd, a specialist excise duties consultancy. Powell explained at the time that "the case confirms that petrol retailers are entitled to defer excise duty on fuel delivered to them from bonded terminals with nil security. Furthermore and the crux of this matter HMRC must grant such approval where the need to defer duty on fuel is demonstrated by the retailer".

Unfortunately it seems neither Powell nor anyone else had been instructed to be present in court when HMRC appealed this decision last month. Brobot has been sold in the past year, and no one was instructed to defend the appeal. After all his hard work leading up to this for many years, Powell is understandably hopping mad. However, he is determined to fight on, as he believes this is a setback, not the end of the challenge. Let’s hope he’s right.

In the meantime, in terms of another long, challenging journey, the forecourt sector is finally getting the recognition it deserves. A new report by the ACS has revealed the increasingly essential role of forecourts in the UK retail landscape. Chairman James Lowman even described forecourts as having some of the best convenience stores in the UK. I think our awards programme has shown that to be the case for some time. Some of those leading the way have been nominated for our Special Recognition Award. Don’t forget to vote: