Not Saussure

September 29, 2006

Above the law?

Filed under: Law, UK — notsaussure @ 4:41 pm

As many others, notably Mssrs Worstall and Eugenides have complained:

Neil Martin faces bankruptcy and losing his home because of an error by the taxman. He has been told the law can do nothing. The taxman is not liable for his mistakes even when he seriously disadvantages customers, a judge ruled yesterday

Neil Martin lost his case after being the first person to sue the Inland Revenue over allegations of negligence or administrative incompetence

Andrew Simmonds, QC, said that the Inland Revenue had been responsible for a 52-day “negligent” delay that had helped push a builder to the brink of bankruptcy.

However, he ruled that the tax office is immune to prosecution by individuals and businesses, unlike other public services such as hospitals and police forces. Neil Martin, 38, became the first person to sue the Inland Revenue, now known as Revenue & Customs, for alleged negligence or administrative incompetence (Telegraph)

We may, I suppose, take some comfort in the fact that

Mr Simmonds acknowledged that the case had raised “some very tricky legal questions” of general public importance and granted Mr Martin permission to challenge his ruling in the Court of Appeal

assuming, that is, that Mr Martin doesn’t go bankrupt in the meantime.

However, the bit of the report that really worried me was that

The Revenue had argued that, had Mr Martin won, it would have opened the floodgates to thousands of claims from businesses and individuals who believed that they had been disadvantaged.

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