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N2-2. Presumptions

Parliament assumed to legislate in knowledge of general law

 

"[13] In the first place, the relevant background to section 1 is the common law position, as I have summarised it. Parliament is taken to have known what the law was prior to the enactment. It must therefore be taken to have known about the decisions in Jameel (Yousef) and Thornton and the basic principles on which general damages were awarded for defamation actionable per se..." (Lachaux v. Independent Print Ltd [2019] UKSC 27​)

"[44] Parliament is presumed to legislate in the knowledge of the current state of the law when it is doing so. In 1969, the law had been clearly laid down in Groves v Lord Wimborne [1898] 2 QB 402, approved by the House of Lords in Butler (or Black) v Fife Coal Co Ltd [1912] AC 149, and again in Cutler v Wandsworth Stadium Ltd [1949] AC 398. Statutory duties imposed upon employers for the benefit of employees who suffer injury as a result of their breach give rise to civil as well as criminal liability, absent a clear statutory intent to the contrary. That is still the law. Parliament understood this when it passed the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, section 47 of which made clear which breaches did not give rise to civil liability, and amended it in 2013, further to restrict the extent of civil liability." (Campbell v. Peter Gordon Joiners Ltd [2016] UKSC 38, Lady Hale)

"[72]...He argues that there should be no general presumption one way or the other that a statute aimed at prohibiting the conduct of one person should or should not import vicarious liability if that conduct is committed in the course of employment. However, Parliament must be assumed to legislate in the knowledge of the general law, which includes the law of vicarious liability, so that one must look for indications that Parliament did not intend it to apply to the particular duties or prohibitions it was imposing.
[...]
[74] As we are not policy-makers and legislators, but judges construing the language used by Parliament, in the context of the general law of vicarious liability of which Parliament must be presumed to have been aware, I am driven to conclude, in agreement with my noble and learned friends, Lord Nicholls and Lord Hope, that this appeal should be dismissed." (Majrowski v. Guy's and St Thomas NHS Trust [2006] UKHL 34, Baroness Hale)

Parliament assumed to legislate in knowledge of general law

Ejusdem generis (general words following specific words apply to things of the same kind)

 

"[72] We do not agree that the Option can itself be an “other arrangement” and hence an employee benefit scheme within section 1291(2). The term “other arrangement” must be something akin to a trust or scheme and an option is not such an arrangement." (HMRC v. NCL Investments Ltd [2022] UKSC 9)

Presumption that difference in language used to describe comparable concepts intended to reflect differences in meaning

“In the ordinary course, there is a presumption that the same expression used in different provisions of a statute has the same meaning wherever it appears. There is also a presumption that differences in the language used to describe comparable concepts are intended to reflect differences in meaning. But the latter presumption is generally weaker than the former, because the use of the same expression is more likely to be deliberate. It will readily be displaced if there is another plausible explanation of the difference.” (Plevin v. Paragon Personal Finance Ltd [2017] UKSC 23, §22, Lord Sumption).

Presumption that difference in language used to describe comparable concepts intended to reflect differences in meaning

Otiose language/redundancy

Otiose language/redundancy

- Presumption against otiose language

“Every word of an enactment is presumed to have been put there for a purpose (see Bennion on Statutory Interpretation, 5th 5 . ed., at page 1157). On HMRC’s construction of section 123(1)(b)(ii), however, the word “substantially” would be otiose.” (HMRC v. Lloyds TSB Equipment Leasing (No.1) Ltd [2013] UKUT 368 (TCC), §44(c), Newey J and Judge Nowlan)

- Presumption against otiose language

- Arguments from redundancy carry little weight/Parliament does legislate for the avoidance of doubt


“ My Lords, I seldom think that an argument from redundancy carries great weight, even in a Finance Act. It is not unusual for Parliament to say expressly what the courts would have inferred anyway.” (Walker v Centaur Clothes Group Ltd [2000] 1WLR 799 at 805 per Lord Hoffmann).

"[54] I recognise that the consequence of this conclusion is that the words in paragraph 6(3) "Except as otherwise provided" had no substantive effect on enactment. The presumption that all words in a statutory provision should have substantive effect is a presumption that can be displaced. In any event Mr Thomas does not dispute that those words could have been intended to be forward looking only, to account for future amendments. While that may be regarded as an odd drafting technique since a future amendment could have inserted those words when a subsequent exception was introduced, I agree with the UT that the words are likely to have been included in Part 4 FA 2003 as a helpful aid to the reader, to point out for the future, that the generally applicable time limit might be countermanded elsewhere." (Candy v. HMRC [2022] EWCA Civ 1447, Simler, Arnold, Nugee LJJJ)

“[Centaur Clothes Group Ltd] was concerned with an argument that one sub-section of a taxing statute would be redundant if another sub-section of the same section was interpreted in a particular way. The argument from redundancy carries even less weight when what is in issue is a different section and, moreover, one introduced by amendment. Mr Aaronson's warnings about the abuses that might result from the manipulation of intra-group debt support the inference drawn by the UT that section 171(2) (a) may well have been included for the avoidance of doubt. I agree, therefore, with both tribunals that this argument does not undermine the straightforward reading of section 171A.” (DMWSHNZ Limited v. HMRC [2015] EWCA Civ 1036, Lewison LJ)

"[54] There is a presumption that every word in an Act is to be given meaning: see Densham v Charity Commission for England and Wales [2018] UKUT 402 at [61]. At [21.2] of the current edition of Bennion, Bailey and Norbury on Statutory Interpretation, the authors explain that “given the presumption that the legislature does nothing in vain, the court must endeavour to give significance to every word of an enactment ... this applies a fortiori to a longer passage, such as a subsection or section.”

[55] But this is no more than a presumption. And, even in a case where a longer passage such as a subsection in an Act has been before a court, it is not uncommon for the courts to arrive at the conclusion that the subsection was included for reasons other than producing a substantive effect." (HMRC v. Candy [2021] UKUT 170 (TCC), Mellor J and Judge Andrew Scott)

- Arguments from redundancy carry little weight/Parliament does legislate for the avoidance of doubt

Specific tax charge does not militate against a broader charge applying

"[15]...the tax code is not a seamless garment. As a result provisions imposing specific tax charges do not necessarily militate against the existence of a more general charge to tax which may have priority over and supersede or qualify the specific charge.

[69] ...The specific provisions for the taxation of employment-related loans have the effect of deeming the benefit of the loans to be emoluments. But if, on a proper analysis, the sums paid into the Principal Trust are emoluments in the first place, these provisions cannot apply as otherwise the taxpayer would taxed twice on part of the same earnings." (RFC 2012 plc v. Advocate General for Scotland [2017] UKSC 45)

- Specific tax charge does not militate against a broader charge applying

- Except as otherwise provided does not imply the statute does contain an exception

"[73] Whether or not a reference in this way to other provisions capable of countermanding a general proposition has a substantive legal effect is a question that can be decided only by reference to the particular provisions concerned. But it would, in our view, be an error to assume that they necessarily would." (HMRC v. Candy [2021] UKUT 170 (TCC), Mellor J and Judge Andrew Scott)

- Except as otherwise provided does not imply the statute does contain an exception

No presumption that statutory power cannot be used to override statutory duty (depends on interpretation)

 

"[62] In my judgment, there is no such general principle of statutory construction. It will of course be relevant to the assessment of rival interpretations of a provision that, on one view, it would permit a direction to be given that has the effect of precluding the performance of what would otherwise be a statutory duty, but that is no more than one of the factors which will need to be considered in arriving at the proper construction of the provision. It is not a principle or presumption of the sort which applies when a court is asked to determine whether a statutory provision overrides fundamental rights or the rule of law, or confers on another body the power to do so. As Lord Hodge said in R (O) v Secretary of State for the Home Department at para 43:
“Where the court is not dealing with an interference by statute with a common law constitutional right or with a statutory provision which declares such a fundamental or constitutional right, the normal canons of statutory construction apply.”" 
(R (oao VIP Communications Ltd  v. SoS for Home Dept [2023] UKSC 10)

Principle against doubtful penalisation

 

"[58] While Mr Fitzpatrick denied that the principle against doubtful penalisation had any relevance in this case because, on his submission, the meaning of the statute was clear in permitting an RRO against a superior landlord, he did not dispute Mr Morris’ submission that an RRO is a relevant penalty for the purposes of the principle. And it has been held that the principle against doubtful penalisation extends to the imposition of civil liability linked to a crime (see Ess Production Ltd (in administration) v Sully [2005] EWCA Civ 554, [2005] 2 BCLC 547, para 78). In our view, although unnecessary to rely on it, the principle against doubtful penalisation is a further factor supporting the straightforward interpretation set out above." (Rakusen v. Jepsen [2023] UKSC 9)

Act governing liability takes precedence over management act

 

"[36]  Having taken such care to walk the taxpayer through the process of giving effect to his entitlement as part of his tax liability for the year specified by him, it would seem extraordinary for that to be taken away, without any direct reference or signpost, by a provision in a relatively obscure Schedule of another statute concerned principally, not with liability, but with management of the tax. Section 1020 makes no specific reference to Schedule 1B, and in any event refers only to “information” in general terms, rather than anything likely to affect the substance of liability. By contrast sections 60(2) and 128(7) are more than mere “signposts”, as the judges below characterised them. The words “subject to” are substantive in effect, imposing a qualification on the right otherwise conferred by those provisions. Applying ordinary principles of interpretation, the absence of similar words in section 132 would naturally be taken as indicating that this right is not subject to the same qualification.

[37]  Turning to the TMA, it is true that words of Schedule 1B taken on their own would be apt to apply to a claim under sections 132-133. However, I do not regard that as enough to displace the clear provisions of the ITA in respect of liability. I do not see this as turning so much on whether one set of provisions is more specific than the other, but rather on the fact that the ITA is in principle the governing statute in respect of tax liability, and as such should take precedence in the absence of any indication to the contrary. Further, unlike the judges below, I see a significant inconsistency between the two sets of provisions: the first gives the taxpayer an unqualified right to claim a deduction in the previous year; the second in effect removes that right by treating it as relating to the current year." (R (oao Derry) v. HMRC [2019] UKSC 19)

Parliament presumed not to intend double taxation

"[107] If HMRC’s argument were right, the result in F S Securities would have been different.  The dividends that were in dispute in that case derived from income of the three companies in which the taxpayer had bought shares (one of which appears to have been a wool merchant). Those three companies earned that income presumably in the course of a myriad of transactions with third parties.  It fed into the calculation of their profit which was then taxed in their hands and the franked dividends were then paid to the taxpayer. The payment of the dividends was a completely different transaction between different parties from the transactions by which the income had been earned but the House of Lords still held that the no double taxation principle applied and the dividends were not taxable as income in the hands of the taxpayer shareholder.

[108] I would therefore dismiss HMRC’s appeal in relation to Garrard and allow the Appellants’ appeal to that extent. There is no basis for remitting the Garrard transactions to the FTT.  The outcome of these proceedings so far as the tax treatment of Garrard is concerned is that the no double taxation principle applies to exclude from the computation of the income of the Appellants’ solo financial trades the amount of the profit that is already taxed in their 114(2) trades." (Investec Asset Finance Plc v. HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 579, Rose LJ)

"[53] In determining Parliament’s purpose, there is a general presumption that Parliament does not intend to legislate in a way that produces an unfair or unreasonable outcome. In R (on the application of Edison First Power Ltd) v Central Valuation Officer and another [2003] 4 All ER 209, a case alleged to constitute double taxation, Lord Millett put matters in the following terms at [116] and [117]:

“[The presumption against double taxation] is … a species of a wider genus, viz. the presumption that Parliament intends to act reasonably … The courts will presume that Parliament did not intend a statute to have consequences which are objectionable or undesirable; or absurd; or unworkable or impracticable; or merely inconvenient; or anomalous or illogical; or futile or pointless. But the strength of these presumptions depends on the degree to which a particular construction produces an unreasonable result. The more unreasonable a result, the less likely it is that Parliament intended it. … I do not, therefore, find it profitable to discuss whether the effect of the [Order] amounts to “double taxation”… I would prefer to go straight to the real question: whether the scheme established by the [Order] is so oppressive, objectionable or unfair that it could only be authorised by Parliament by express words or necessary implication.”" (HMRC v. Candy [2021] UKUT 170 (TCC), Mellor J and Judge Andrew Scott)

“While s 385 appears to contemplate that more than one person could be subject to tax on the same dividend (for instance, where one person received it but another person was entitled to receive it), a better reading is that only one person is liable to tax on the same dividend.  Any other reading gives rise to double taxation.” (Vowles v. HMRC [2017] UKFTT 704 (TC), §78, Judge Mosedale).

Parliament presumed not to intend double taxation
- Taxing company and individual onward recipient from company not double taxation

- Taxing company and individual onward recipient from company not double taxation

"[128]There is a presumption that Parliament does not intend to tax the same person on the same income twice unless it clearly and expressly legislates to the contrary. This is the principle of double taxation and Lord Macmillan explained the principle in Canadian Eagle Oil Company Limited v R (1945) 27 TC 205 (which was concerned with the rules for taxing foreign companies on income with a UK source) at 257: “The result of these considerations is to satisfy me that for the purposes of Income Tax, the income of a foreign company and the income received from it in dividends by its British shareholders are not to any extent or effect one and the same income, but are two distinct incomes. The fact that the foreign company’s total income is in part composed of British dividends which have borne tax by deduction is entirely irrelevant to the question of the tax to be paid by a British shareholder on the dividends received by him from the foreign company. There is no such identification of the British shareholder with the foreign company as there is between a British shareholder and a British company, and the attempted analogy is only misleading. The income of the foreign company and the income received in dividends from it by its British shareholder are in our revenue law the incomes of two different persons,  and there can thus be no room for any invocation of the rule against double taxation, which applies only against taxing twice the same income of the same person.”  

[129] In our judgment, the FTT’s conclusion that the present case did not involve double taxation  (in the sense described by Lord Macmillan in Canadian Oil) was correct. The Corporate Partner and the IP Appellants were not the same person and they were not taxed on the same income. They were being taxed on income from separate sources. The Corporate Partner has been taxed on its profit allocation and the IP Appellants were chargeable to tax under Case VI on the receipts derived from the final PIP Awards based on the decisions made by the Corporate Partner. For these reasons we dismiss the IP Appellants’ appeal on the Miscellaneous Income Issue." (HMRC v. Bluecrest Capital Management LP [2022] UKUT 200 (TCC), Leech J and Judge Herrington)

No domestic law principle that exceptions to be construed strictly

 

"[36] Mr Goudie sought to rely on a principle in the interpretation of EU legislation, according to which exceptions to a general rule laid down in the legislation are to be strictly construed: see Expert Witness Institute v Customs and Excise Comrs [2001] EWCA Civ 1882, [2002] 1 WLR 1674, paras 16-17. He submitted that section 43(6) was an exception to the general rule that occupied non-residential hereditaments are subject to rates and should therefore be given a strict construction to limit the extent of that exception.
[37] We do not accept this, for two reasons. First, there is no directly equivalent principle of interpretation of domestic legislation. The ordinary rules of statutory interpretation apply. Sometimes the main policy of a statute might be so clearly stated that it may be relevant to interpret any departure from it in a strict way, but much will depend on the particular features of the specific legislation in issue and there is no automatic or rigid rule to that effect.
[38] Secondly, in this case it is not possible to say that the principle of the taxation of occupied non-residential hereditaments is governing or dominant in this sense so as to justify such an approach. In fact, there is no exception to the principle of taxation of occupied non-residential hereditaments, but a carefully calibrated relief provision first in section 11 of the 1961 Act and now in section 43(6) (the extent of the relief having been adjusted over time) to fulfil a distinct policy objective as identified in the Pritchard Report.
" (London Borough of Merton Council v. Nuffield Health [2023] UKSC 18)

Ejusdem generis (general words following specific words apply to things of the same kind)
No presumption that statutory power cannot be used to override statutory duty (depends on interpretation)
Principle against doubtful penalisation
Act governing liability takes precedence over management act
No domestic law principle that exceptions to be construed strictly
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