Notes to the consolidated
financial statements

29. Contingent liabilities

Performance bonds 246 157
Credit guarantees – third party indebtedness 76 61
Other guarantees and contingent liabilities 496 445

Performance bonds

Performance bonds require the Group to make payments to third parties in the event that the Group does not perform what is expected of it under the terms of any related contracts or commercial arrangements.

Credit guarantees – third party indebtedness

Credit guarantees comprise guarantees and indemnities of bank or other facilities including those in respect of the Group’s associates and investments.

Other guarantees and contingent liabilities

Other guarantees principally comprise commitments to the Spanish tax authorities of £221 million (2009: £229 million).

The Group also enters into lease arrangements in the normal course of business which are principally in respect of land, buildings and equipment. Further details on the minimum lease payments due under non-cancellable operating lease arrangements can be found in note 28.

The Company has covenanted to provide security in favour of the Trustee of the Vodafone Group UK Pension Scheme in respect of the funding deficit in the scheme. The initial security takes the form of a Japanese law share pledge over 400,000 class 1 preferred shares of ¥200,000 in BB Mobile Corp. The security may be replaced either on a voluntary or mandatory basis but while the security asset consists of the preferred shares, the percentage cover to the secured liabilities will be 100%. As and when alternative security is provided, the Company has agreed that the security cover should include additional headroom of 33% but i) where cash is used as the security asset the ratio will revert to 100% of the relevant liabilities and ii) where the proposed replacement security asset is listed on an internationally recognised stock exchange in certain defined core jurisdictions, the Trustee may decide to agree a lower ratio than 133%.

The Company and its subsidiaries are currently, and may be from time to time, involved in a number of legal proceedings, including inquiries from or discussions with governmental authorities, that are incidental to their operations. However, save as disclosed below, the Company and its subsidiaries are not involved currently in any legal or arbitration proceedings (including any governmental proceedings which are pending or known to be contemplated) which may have, or have had in the 12 months preceding the date of this report, a significant effect on the financial position or profitability of the Company and its subsidiaries. With the exception of the Vodafone 2 enquiry, due to inherent uncertainties, no accurate quantification of any cost, or timing of such cost, which may arise from any of the legal proceedings outlined below can be made.

The Company is one of a number of co-defendants in four actions filed in 2001 and 2002 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in the United States alleging personal injury, including brain cancer, from mobile phone use. We are not aware that the health risks alleged in such personal injury claims have been substantiated and we are vigorously defending such claims. In August 2007 the trial court dismissed all four actions against the Company on the basis of the federal pre-emption doctrine. On 29 October 2009 the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled on the plaintiffs’ appeal of the trial court’s dismissal of all claims in the action on the basis of the federal pre-emption doctrine. The Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of most claims. However the decision permits the plaintiffs to continue any claims alleging i) injuries in respect of mobile phones purchased before 1 August 1996 (the date of the Federal Communication Commission’s Specific Absorption Rate standard (‘FCC standard’)); ii) injuries in respect of mobile phones alleged not to have complied with the FCC standard; and iii) fraud and misrepresentation in respect of the sale or marketing of mobile phones in question. The cases have returned to the trial court to be adjudicated in accordance with the Court of Appeals’ decision, and on 3 May 2010, plaintiffs in the four actions filed amended complaints with the Superior Court. The defendants are expected to answer or move to dismiss the actions in June 2010.

In October 2004, one of our subsidiaries, Vodafone 2, instigated a legal challenge to an enquiry (‘the Vodafone 2 enquiry’) by HMRC with regard to the UK tax treatment of its Luxembourg holding company, Vodafone Investments Luxembourg SARL (‘VIL’), under the CFC Regime. Vodafone 2 argued that the CFC Regime was incompatible with EU law and the Vodafone 2 enquiry ought to be closed.

In September 2006, the European Court of Justice determined in the Cadbury Schweppes case (C-196/04) that the CFC Regime would be incompatible with EU law unless it could be interpreted as applying only to wholly artificial arrangements intended to escape national tax normally payable (‘wholly artificial arrangements’). On 22 May 2009, the Court of Appeal (‘CoA’) held that the CFC Regime could be so interpreted by reading a new exemption into the CFC Regime in respect of subsidiaries which are ‘actually established’ in another EU Member State and carry on ‘genuine economic activities’ there. The CoA ruled that the Vodafone 2 enquiry should be allowed to continue on this basis. The CoA’s decision became final when, on 17 December 2009, the Supreme Court refused Vodafone 2 permission to appeal.

The Vodafone 2 enquiry and other enquiries involving similar holding companies in Luxembourg are ongoing. The outcome of these enquiries, including whether further legal proceedings will be required to ultimately resolve them, is uncertain at this stage. We carried provisions of £2.2 billion (2009: £2.2 billion) in respect of the potential UK corporation tax exposure at 31 March 2010.

On 12 November 2007 the Company became aware of the filing of a purported class action complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by The City of Edinburgh Council on behalf of the Lothian Pension Fund (‘Lothian’) against the Company and certain of the Company’s current and former officers and directors for alleged violations of US federal securities laws. The complaint alleged that the Company’s financial statements and certain disclosures between 10 June 2004 and 27 February 2006 were materially false and misleading, among other things, as a result of the Company’s alleged failure to report on a timely basis a write‑down for the impaired value of Vodafone’s German, Italian and Japanese subsidiaries. The complaint sought compensatory damages of an unspecified amount and other relief on behalf of a putative class comprised of all persons who purchased publicly traded securities, including ordinary shares and American depositary receipts, of the Company between 10 June 2004 and 27 February 2006. The plaintiff subsequently served the complaint and, on or about 27 March 2008, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint asserting substantially the same claims against the same defendants on behalf of the same putative investor class. Thereafter an additional plaintiff, a US pension fund that purportedly purchased Vodafone ADRs on the New York Stock Exchange, was added as an additional plaintiff by stipulated order. We believe that the allegations are without merit and filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on 6 June 2008. By judgment entered on 1 December 2008 the court dismissed the amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration of that dismissal arguing that the court overlooked the claims of the US pension fund, as to which there had been no subject matter jurisdiction challenge. On 9 April 2009 the court granted that motion to the extent that it sought reopening of the action for the purpose of adjudication of the claims asserted on behalf of the US pension fund but denied the motion with respect to the dismissal of Lothian’s claims. On 20 May 2009, the Court granted the Company’s motion to dismiss the claims of the US pension fund on the grounds that the complaint failed to plead securities fraud with the requisite specificity, but granted the plaintiff leave to file a motion to amend its complaint. The plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint on 26 June 2009, which the Company opposed. On 22 January 2010 the Court denied that motion and on 30 January 2010 entered a judgment dismissing the action. The Company has not been served with a notice of appeal within the time permitted under the relevant civil procedure rules and now considers the case to be closed.

Vodafone Essar Limited (‘VEL’) and Vodafone International Holdings B.V. (‘VIHBV’) each received notices in August 2007 and September 2007 respectively, from the Indian tax authorities alleging potential liability in connection with alleged failure by VIHBV to deduct withholding tax from consideration paid to the Hutchison Telecommunications International Limited group (‘HTIL’) in respect of HTIL’s gain on its disposal to VIHBV of its interests in a wholly-owned subsidiary that indirectly holds interests in VEL. Following the receipt of such notices, VEL and VIHBV each filed writs seeking orders that their respective notices be quashed and that the tax authorities take no further steps under the notices. Initial hearings have been held before the Bombay High Court and in the case of VIHBV the High Court heard the writ in June 2008. In December 2008 the High Court dismissed VIHBV’s writ. VIHBV subsequently filed a special leave petition to the Supreme Court to appeal the High Court’s dismissal of the writ. On 23 January 2009 the Supreme Court referred the question of the tax authority’s jurisdiction to seek to pursue tax back to the tax authority for adjudication on the facts with permission granted to VIHBV to appeal that decision back to the High Court should VIHBV disagree with the tax authority’s findings. On 30 October 2009 VIHBV received a notice from the tax authority requiring VIHBV to show cause as to why it believes that the tax authority does not have competent jurisdiction to proceed against VIHBV for the default of non-deduction of withholding tax from consideration paid to HTIL. VIHBV provided a response on 29 January 2010. VEL’s case continues to be stayed pending the outcome of the VIHBV hearing. VIHBV believes that neither it nor any other member of the Group is liable for such withholding tax and intends to defend this position vigorously.

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