Why we need to know what the law is

You know, this thing about us all obeying the spirit of the law instead of the actual law. When HMRC comes knocking, just write the ceque for whatever they demand. Don\’t ask for clarification, don\’t ask them how or why you owe the money: just cough up for anything else would be tax avoidance wouldn\’t it?

And certainly never ask for clarification of the law before you decide how to do something: that would just be proof that you were planning tax avoidance, wouldn\’t it?

Well, yes:

More than £88 million has been seized from people found guilty of counterfeiting tobacco brands since 2005. But an appeal by one man, William Chambers, revealed that Customs officers and prosecutors obtained a confiscation order against him under 1992 excise duty regulations, amended in 2001 to exclude tobacco products.

The case forced the Revenue & Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO) to track back through 4,000 case files. Dozens of similar errors have been unearthed, with many more files still to be examined. The RCPO faces repaying millions and being sued by people who had to sell their homes to meet the confiscation demands.

Those authorities themselves are entirely capable of breaking the law. Because they are ignorant of it. So perhaps actually we ought to be questioning their every move, insisting that they show us each and every time where their powers come from, how and why we owe their imposts, instead of supinely rolling over to present our sphincter for a raping?

If the authorities will not act by either the letter nor the spirit of the law in their dealings with us then why should we in our dealings with them?

One comment on “Why we need to know what the law is

  1. They don’t know the law either. It’s impossible for anyone to know ALL the ins and outs of the thousands of new laws and regulations introduced by Labour over the last 12 years (and previous Tory administrations to be fair).

    The problem that arises when dealing with State officials is that they can effectively interpret what the law is, and the only way you can prove otherwise is to go to court. They will oppose you all the way, even if they are wrong, because they hate to lose face. And they have the full weight of the State resources behind them.

    So in practise the officials can force you to do all sorts of stuff they may have no legal power to do. Its only if you can start quoting the actual law clauses at them they begin to take notice.

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