Is Bridge a sport for VAT purposes? The ECJ’s decision in English Bridge Union v. HMRC

LawInSport_2 Print publication


This article was written for and first published by LawInSport.

Is it sport if I’m not out of breath?

No, according to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in a recent judgment (English Bridge Union Limited v HMRC Commissioners1).

In order to be classified as a sport for VAT purposes and benefit from the VAT exemption for sports and physical education, the ECJ judgment states that an activity must involve a certain amount of physical activity. Unusually, the ECJ’s decision contradicted the opinion2 given by Advocate General Szpunar earlier this year, which had concluded that the activity in question (a competitive card game) was likely a sport.

This article examines:

  • The background to the decision
  • Tribunal cases and the referral to ECJ
  • Implications for other sports
  • Impact for the English Bridge Union