Quite marvellous

Your comment is absurd

If you genuinely think that there is no room for misunderstanding in the interpretation of the written word you’re either a) naive or b) deceiving yourself

In which case perfect legsilation is not possible – but the spirit of the law remains intact none the less

So how are we to divine the spirit of the law without recourse to that inevitably potentially misunderstood written word?

Hmm, the only way I can see this being done is that we have some group of, oooh, I dunno, senior and well respected people to do this for us.

Mebbe something along the lines of lawyers who have been lawyering for a few decades? Get \’em together, anyone who has a problem with what the law actually is, you know what\’s the real meaning of this not quite clear piece of prose, can go and ask them.

Mebbe even if people are having an argument about what the law is, they could pay some fees and end up in front of these experienced lawyers?

And these greybeards, they could, when deciding what that law really means, have a look around the world at other, similar, systems and see how other, similar, systems have decided in other, similar, such arguments about that true meaning?

Heck, we\’ll even let them look at Hansard so that they can try and divine what the politicians thought they were doing rather than what they\’ve actually written down.

Sounds like an entirely reasonable and effective system of deciding what is in fact the law, sorting through these arguments about what is the spirit and the letter of said law, no?

The only remaining question I suppose is why we don\’t go off an build such a system. To which the answer is:

This is exactly what our current legal system does.

We have \”judges\” who sit in \”courts\” and use \”cases\” in which they sort through \”legislation\” and where the \”letter\” and \”spirit\” of the law seem to diverge they look at the \”proceedings of Parliament\” and \”other jurisdictions\” and \”precedent\” to see both what was \”intended\” and what was \”written\”.

And then they tell us what the law is, having reconciled both spirit and letter of it.

What really bugs Ritchie is that what the judges think the spirit of the law is (ie, every Englishman has an absolute right to order his affairs so as to reduce his tax bill) isn\’t what Ritchie thinks the spirit of the law ought to be.

But then who do you think knows what it is better? 20 odd old farts in wigs or a retired accountant from Wandsworth?

Your call.

8 thoughts on “Quite marvellous”

  1. “But then who do you think knows what it is better? 20 odd old farts in wigs or a retired accountant from Wandsworth?”

    Line of the decade.

  2. “every Englishman has an absolute right to order his affairs so as to reduce his tax bill”: you must be thinking of this, Tim –

    “No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer’s pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue”.

    Since Lord Clyde was presiding at the Court of Session, it’s unlikely that it was Englishmen that he particularly had in mind.

  3. dearieme, your quote is indeed Lord Clyde, in Ayrshire Pullman Motor Services (1929).

    But Tim’s quote is Lord Tomlin the Duke of Westminster case (1935); “Every man is
    entitled to arrange his own affairs so that the tax … is less than it otherwise would

    And in the Duke of Westminster case, I’m sure he would have been thinking of an Englishman!

  4. No it couldn’t be Richard Smurphy – he’s never read a case in his life. This post demonstrates once again that he has very little understanding of the law, and only wishes to use it or abuse it to enforce his ideology on everyone else. One of things which is still Great about Britain is our legal profession. Some might hate them, but they’re some of the best in the world, and contribute to our upholding of the rule of law.

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