Law Report: Farmhouse was not "agricultural land"

Starke v Inland Revenue Commissioners. Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Stuart-Smith, Lord Justice Morritt and Lord justice Ward). 19 May 1995

Farmhouse was not 'agricultural land'

Technical requirements of

affidavit must be observed

Starke v Inland Revenue Commissioners. Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Stuart-Smith, Lord Justice Morritt and Lord Justice Ward). 19 May 1995.

The expression "agricultural land or pasture" in the first part of section 115(2) of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 did not include buildings or other structures on the land, since they were more specifically included in the latter parts of the definition in that section.

Accordingly, a 2.5 acre site, containing a substantial six-bedroomed farmhouse and an assortment of outbuildings together with several small areas of enclosed land, used as part of a medium-sized farm which carried on mixed farming, did not constitute "agricultural land" so as to be exempt from inheritance tax.

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the plaintiffs, Colin Barrymore Starke and Peter Michael Barlow (executors of the will of Wilfrid Edward Arnold Brown) against the decision of Mr Justice Blackburne ([1994] STC 295) dismissing their appeal against the commissioners' determination, on 21 May 1993, that Highways Farmhouse, Wiggington Heath, Oxfordshire, which had been transferred on the death of the deceased on 13 May 1988, did not qualify for agricultural property relief from inheritance tax under section 116.

Section 115(2) "agricultural property" was defined as "agricultural land or pasture and included woodland and any building used in connection with the intensive rearing of livestock or fish if the woodland or building is occupied with agricultural land or pasture and the occupation is ancillary to that of the agricultural land or pasture; and also includes such cottages, farm buildings and farmhouses, together with the land occupied with them, as are of a character appropriate to the property."

Gordon Apsion (Hancocks, Oxford) for the executors; Michael Furness (Solicitor, Inland Revenue) for the commissioners.

LORD JUSTICE MORRITT said that the executors originally applied for judicial review of the commissioners' determination. That application was obviously misconceived. By their amended application they sought leave to appeal for an order that the determination was wrong. But in view of the need to demonstrate that the appeal was substantially confined to a question of law, the executors undertook not to contend that the property came within the third part of the section 115(2) as being "such cottages, farm buildings and farmhouses, together with the land occupied with them, as are of a character appropriate to the property". Nor did they contend it within the second part, as being "woodland and any building used in connection with the intensive rearing of livestock or fish". The only question was whether the property fell within the first part, as "agricultural land or pasture". The Interpretation Act 1978 required "land" to be read as including "buildings or other structures" unless the contrary appeared. The contrary must appear, if at all, from other parts of the definition. In that connection, the second part was not of assistance. But the third part referred expressly to the buildings and structures that would be most obviously included in the words "agricultural land" if the Interpretation Act applied in full. Considering the structure of the definition as a whole, with the exception of "woodland" all that followed the words "agricultural land or pasture" was concerned with the buildings of one sort or another which were to be included. In such a context it would be surprising to find that buildings were already included in the phrase "agricultural land or pasture".

Paul Magrath, Barrister

Starke v Inland Revenue Commissioners. Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Stuart-Smith, Lord Justice Morritt and Lord Justice Ward). 19 May 1995.

The expression "agricultural land or pasture" in the first part of section 115(2) of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 did not include buildings or other structures on the land, since they were more specifically included in the latter parts of the definition in that section.

Accordingly, a 2.5 acre site, containing a substantial six-bedroomed farmhouse and an assortment of outbuildings together with several small areas of enclosed land, used as part of a medium-sized farm which carried on mixed farming, did not constitute "agricultural land" so as to be exempt from inheritance tax.

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the plaintiffs, Colin Barrymore Starke and Peter Michael Barlow (executors of the will of Wilfrid Edward Arnold Brown) against the decision of Mr Justice Blackburne ([1994] STC 295) dismissing their appeal against the commissioners' determination, on 21 May 1993, that Highways Farmhouse, Wiggington Heath, Oxfordshire, which had been transferred on the death of the deceased on 13 May 1988, did not qualify for agricultural property relief from inheritance tax under section 116.

Section 115(2) "agricultural property" was defined as "agricultural land or pasture and included woodland and any building used in connection with the intensive rearing of livestock or fish if the woodland or building is occupied with agricultural land or pasture and the occupation is ancillary to that of the agricultural land or pasture; and also includes such cottages, farm buildings and farmhouses, together with the land occupied with them, as are of a character appropriate to the property."

Gordon Apsion (Hancocks, Oxford) for the executors; Michael Furness (Solicitor, Inland Revenue) for the commissioners.

LORD JUSTICE MORRITT said that the executors originally applied for judicial review of the commissioners' determination. That application was obviously misconceived. By their amended application they sought leave to appeal for an order that the determination was wrong. But in view of the need to demonstrate that the appeal was substantially confined to a question of law, the executors undertook not to contend that the property came within the third part of the section 115(2) as being "such cottages, farm buildings and farmhouses, together with the land occupied with them, as are of a character appropriate to the property". Nor did they contend it within the second part, as being "woodland and any building used in connection with the intensive rearing of livestock or fish". The only question was whether the property fell within the first part, as "agricultural land or pasture". The Interpretation Act 1978 required "land" to be read as including "buildings or other structures" unless the contrary appeared. The contrary must appear, if at all, from other parts of the definition. In that connection, the second part was not of assistance. But the third part referred expressly to the buildings and structures that would be most obviously included in the words "agricultural land" if the Interpretation Act applied in full. Considering the structure of the definition as a whole, with the exception of "woodland" all that followed the words "agricultural land or pasture" was concerned with the buildings of one sort or another which were to be included. In such a context it would be surprising to find that buildings were already included in the phrase "agricultural land or pasture".

Paul Magrath, Barrister

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all