The court had to decide the meaning of the phrase “floor covering” to determine what customs tariff applied to Terratile pitch protection tiles which are placed on top of sports fields when other events such as concerts are held in the stadium. The customs tariff item is “floor coverings of plastics, whether or not self-adhesive, in rolls or in the form of tiles; wall or ceiling coverings of plastics”.

The court was referred to various definitions of “floor”. It found that any one of a number of dictionary definitions of a word is not necessarily conclusive in itself because meanings have to be determined contextually.

Meanings have to be determined contextually.

In the context of the wording of the tariff item the description encompasses plastic articles which are in some way enhancements of existing floor surfaces. The Terratiles are a floor in themselves of a very temporary nature and not a “floor covering” in the context.