A builder who sued HM Revenue & Customs after claiming that administrative delays on the Construction Industry Scheme forced his firm out of business has lost his case.

The case, brought by Neil Martin of Neil Martin Ltd, was the first of its kind in the industry. The verdict, delivered last Thursday, will save the Revenue from a rush of similar claims from firms placed under financial pressure as a result of delays in issuing CIS tax certificates.

Martin, from Cumbria, was seeking up to £500,000 in damages after claiming his application for a CIS certificate was not dealt with for three months, leaving his firm with insurmountable cash flow problems. The certificate determines whether or not the subcontractor is paid gross.

The judge said he accepted that the actions of the Revenue had had an adverse effect but said it was not liable because it did not have a “duty of care” towards companies.

HM Revenue & Customs says that it will normally process claims within three days of receiving an application form.