In what was a surprise to many, the Advocate General has referred the Apple case back to the General Court. In the opinion of the Advocate General, several errors were made in the ruling of the General Court, meaning that a rehearing is necessary.
It would appear that this case is going rumble on for a few years more. It is quite possible that whichever side loses the second hearing at the General Court will appeal the case back to the ECJ. So it could be several years before we have a final decision.
Investors want certainty and the hope was that today’s Advocate General’s opinion, generally followed in the ECJ final ruling, would have delivered that. Instead we are looking at a few more years of “noise”. While Ireland’s tax regime is generally viewed as very transparent and endorsed by the OECD, today’s development puts it back in the spotlight.
While the global tax landscape has changed considerably from the periods to which the Apple case relates, the inevitable re-stoking of old debates is not what Ireland wanted.
In summary, while we got no decision today, a referral back to the General Court was not what the Government will have wanted.
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