RC Smith loses levy case over definition of 'retail' sales

Warwickshire wallflower grower RC Smith has lost its case against the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in relation to reduced horticulture levy payments.

Owner Richard Smith contended that some of his direct-to-customer trade sales were retail rather than wholesale and therefore liable to a 0.25 per cent levy rate rather than the 0.5 per cent wholesale rate.

Earlier this month in Nuneaton County Court, the district judge ruled that the absence of a definition of "retail" in the statutory instrument requiring AHDB to impose the levy was not important.

Instead, he found that the definition in the AHDB/Horticultural Development Company (HDC) levy guidance documentation was correct for the purpose of levy collection.

Smith was ordered to pay his outstanding levy with interest, within 14 days, which he has now done. But he told Horticulture Week that he planned to appeal.

HDC horticulture director Dr Bill Parker said: "We are required to take action on non-payment of levy. This debt recovery cost £12,255 in legal and court fees, paid for out of levy funds."

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