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The High Court sustains Times Group injunction

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The High Court in Blantyre has sustained an injunction which Times Group sought to stop Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) from closing its business premises.

Pronouncing his ruling in his chambers this week, Justice Joseph Chigona said refusing to allow Times Group an injunction would cause more injustice because it is a business entity that has been operating in the country for many years.

MRA audited Times Group for income tax, comprising corporate tax, fringe benefits tax, withholding tax and pay as you earn tax, ordinarily payable under the Taxation Act and for value added tax payable under Value Added Tax Act.

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The MRA then issued a distraint certificate purporting to enforce the recovery of income tax and value added tax.

But Times Group through its lawyer Patrick Mpaka, argued that the distraint certificate combined sums of money under the Taxation Act (income tax) and sums of money as value added tax under the Value Added Tax Act.

He argued that this combination is not allowed under Section 40 of the Taxation Act as that provision is specific as to the form to be used.

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During the oral submissions, the company argued that there was no reasonable notice given.

Times Group sought an interlocutory injunction and a stay order against MRA on January 13 this year.

Justice Joseph Chigona allowed Times Group to move for a judicial review and granted them a stay order which was valid until January 20, 2017.

MRA applied to the court to discharge leave for judicial review because Times Group did not exhaust all available legal remedies.

“Blantyre Printing and Publishing Company Limited (under Times Group) has contributed positively to the development of this country through payment of taxes and continues to do so: hence it is fair that [it] should be granted the relief it is seeking despite the public interest principle advanced by MRA,” reads part of the ruling.

Chigona said the duty to collect taxes need to be undertaken in a fair and reasonable manner.

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