So, in his paper proposing a tax code of conduct Mr. Murphy says that:
It is therefore important to note what a Code of Conduct can achieve that other
mechanisms cannot, especially since a Code is not law and consequently involves voluntary
adoption by those who abide by it. The benefits of a Code are:
1. It is not law. This means it can be promulgated and used when there is no agency
that could promote the same purpose on a statutory basis. There is at present no
agency that can promote a worldwide basis for taxation law;
2. A Code is a statement of principles, which makes it more flexible than a legal
statement because there can be no doubt that it is the principles, and not its
detailed wording, which should guide those involved in interpreting the Code.
3. A Code is flexible. Whilst specifying matters of principle, issues of detail, which
evolve rapidly and can lose relevance almost as fast, can be handled without
requiring changes to the structure of the Code itself. This ensures durability;
4. A Code can concentrate on the rights of participants rather than the minutiae of
individual issues, which is essential if the Code is be applicable to a wide variety of
These merits can also create problems. Many voluntary codes have lacked teeth. If,
however, governments have committed to them, as has for example been the case with
much of the work of the United Nations or the EU Code of Conduct for Business Taxation2
then codes can be made to work.
The advantage is that it is not in fact law and is thus a great deal more flexible.
Today he tells us:
So let’s make it law and be done with it.
Something which, by his own argument, entirely obviates the purpose of having a code in the first place.
Ritchie really is the gift that keeps on giving, isn\’t he?