Law Report: Case Summaries

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The Independent Online
THE following notes of judgments were prepared by the reporters of the All England Law Reports.

Employment

Yorkshire Blood Transfusion Service v Plaskitt; EAT (Tuckey J, Dawson P, Mackie A); 20 July 1993.

An employer could rely on his own mistake in paying one of his employees, the male comparator, a higher salary than that fixed by the relevant scale, as 'a material factor which is not the difference of sex' within s 1(3) of the Equal Pay Act 1970, as substituted by the Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations 1983 (SI 1794), in defence to an equal pay claim brought by a female complainant. There was no evidence of intention to discriminate or of actual discrimination, and the industrial tribunal erred in law in requiring an objective justification of the difference in pay.

Stuart Brown QC and Alaris Daziel (W J Lovel, Harrogate) for the employers; Helen Mountfield (Robin Thompson & Partners) for the complainant.

Jurisdiction

Gulf Bank KSC v Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd; QBD (Hobhouse J); 22 July 1993.

A contract between foreign companies subject to a foreign law, namely that of Kuwait, but with an indemnity clause made subject to English law, and declared void under the governing law of the contract, was nevertheless a matter concerning a contract within the meaning of RSC Ord 11, r 1(1)(d) and came within the jurisdiction of the English courts. The words of sub-para (d) were clearly intended, together with the references to breach of contract, to make a comprehensive reference to contractual claims. Neither the language nor the police of Order 11 disclosed any intention to exclude any category of contractual claim.

Mark Barnes QC and Kenneth Maclean (Stephenson Harwood) for the plaintiff; Richard Aikens QC and Steven Berry (Baker & McKenzie) for the defendants.

Sale of goods

Allen v Redbridge London Borough Council; QB Div Ct (Watkins LJ, Leonard J); 22 July 1993.

A retailer who stocked goods in a locked glass cabinet with price labels that could only be seen with the assistance of a member of the shop's staff was wrongly convicted by justices of failing to indicate the selling price of his goods in accordance with arts 3 and 8 of the Price Marketing Order 1991 (SI 1382), contrary to s 7 of the Prices Act 1972 and its schedule. Provided there was an indicator on or beside the goods, unmistakeably relating to them and showing their price, the 1991 Order was fully complied with; it was not necessary that a would-be purchaser could see the price without assistance from anyone else.

Michael Beloff QC and Jonathan Fisher (Charles Russell) for the appellant; Leslie Joseph QC and James Taylor (GR Bassett, Ilford) for the local authority.

Tax

National Westminster Bank plc & anr, and Barclays Bank plc & anr v Inland Revenue Commissioners; ChD (Rattee J); 30 July 1993.

For the purposes of s 289 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988, shares acquired under a business expansion scheme were 'issued' to the shareholders when a letter of allotment was sent to them, not when the shares were eventually registered by the company. A new s 299A inserted into the 1988 Act by s 111 of the Finance Act 1993, to prevent tax avoidance by investors in business expansion schemes, took effect in respect of shares issued on or after 16 March 1993. Consequently shareholders who were notified that shares had been allotted to them on 12 March but not registered until after 16 March were not caught by the new provision.

Robin Potts QC and Kevin Prosser (Lovell White Durrant) for the banks; Anthony Grabiner QC and David Unwin (Inland Revenue Solicitor) for the Crown.

Forward contract

Whittles (Inspector of Taxes) v Uniholdings Ltd; ChD (Jonathan Parker J); 29 July 1993.

A UK resident company which made a forward contract in US dollars as a hedge against risk of loss on a dollar loan, argued before a special commissioner that the forward contract and the loan constituted a single composite transaction within the principle of WT Ramsay Ltd v IRC (1982) AC 300, and planned to maintain that argument in the High Court. Since, however, the case stated by the commissioner was unclear as to whether he had made a finding that there was a single composite transaction, the case would be remitted to the commissioner for clarification on the company's application.

Andrew Thornhill QC and Giles Goodfellow (Herbert Smith) for the company; Launcelot Henderson (Inland Revenue Solicitor) for the Crown.

VAT

Customs and Excise Commissioners v Le Rififi Ltd; QBD (Leonard J); 27 July 1993.

If any part of a global VAT assessment covering a number of prescribed accounting periods was out of time under s 22 of the Finance Act 1985 (six years from the end of the relevant accounting period), then the whole assessment was invalid. The time-barred period could not be severed leaving the rest of the assessment operative.

Nigel Pleming QC (Customs and Excise Solicitor) for the Crown; Edward Cohen (Tarlo Lyons) for the taxpayer.

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