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as may be gathered from the footnotes, and, perhaps, from a case mentioned in the appendix not altogether to the point), that "appeals once heard are to be final, without "further appeal upon any pretence whatever;" and "all questions and differences touching any assessments are to be "heard and finally determined by the Commissioners, upon complaint by the party aggrieved, without further trouble "or suit at law in any court whatever."
As a matter of courtesy, I apprehend no owner or agent would refrain from calling attention to any irregularity in the schedule, if he became aware of such, but he need not, and further, he need not either "appeal or pay" if he be prepared with evidence of redemption. Collectors, it has been found from experience, will think more than twice or thrice before distraining on properties which they are told are land tax free, and where land tax clerks are faced boldly they will find means for effecting amendments in the schedule.
This view, probably perfectly well known to the initiated on the receiving side, is not, perhaps, so well known on the paying side. It was taken with success in the case of one parish where there were a number of small redemptions of properties formerly held under ecclesiastical leases, the grantees of which had redeemed under the powers given to Ecclesiastical Corporations. The clerk and the assessors had solved the problem arising from past neglect by reassessing nearly all the lands in the district. Being met by the threat of actions for illegal distress if they proceeded, they, being unable to identify the lands redeemed, were glad to make terms. The identification was completed with some considerable trouble on behalf of the owners, and by their courtesy the collector and commissioners were saved the scandal of illegal distraints. The net result of the discussion was to reduce a charge of £58 levied at 10d. in the £ to
one of £45 levied at 11d. in the £, equal to, say, £400 capital value.*
A case subsequently tried in the Frome County Court bears out the view taken herein. It is true the judgment is that of a court of first instance, but, as far as can be ascertained, no appeal from the Judge's decision has taken place, and this fact will speak for itself. The only report yet found, except a short paragraph in the Daily Telegraph, is in the Somerset Standard, October 24, 1891.†
There are some other points in connection with the subject of land tax that might be further discussed, but those above referred to are, perhaps, of most interest to the practical readers of "Professional Notes," whose attention has not, in the course of their experience, been yet drawn to the question raised.
J. HENRY SABIN, Professional Associate.
* In another more important case the collectors and assessors have so far given the go-by to the dictum laid down, that they have allowed two years to elapse without proceedings, although the assessment still shows the property, alleged by the owner to be redeemed, as liable.
+ FROME COUNTY COURT.
[Before His HONOUR JUDGE CAILLARD.]
THE LAND TAX CASE: JUDGMENT.
The case of James Padfield v. Samuel Smith came up for judgment. The evidence has been fully reported in our columns of December 27th and August 22nd. His Honour, in giving judgment, said the action was brought to recover £30 damages from the defendant, a collector of land tax, for trespass upon land belonging to plaintiff, and for an illegal distress by seizing and selling a cow and calf, also his, under a warrant from the Inland Revenue Authority to recover 30s. alleged to be due for land tax. The defendant had paid £11 11s. 2d. into Court in satisfaction of the claim. The 30s. claimed was for two years' tax at 158. per year. The defendant admitted the first 15s. was not due and had paid that into Court as part of the £11 11s. 2d. He further admitted by his learned advocate (Mr. Ames) that the tax upon the land had been redeemed. Even without that admission he (the Judge) should have found without hesitation upon the evidence adduced on plaintiff's behalf that the land tax was redeemed in 1799, and had
The New London (Consolidation) Building Bill.
Some apparently innocent clauses have issued from the Building Act Committee of the London County Council. These clauses are proposed to be inserted in the new Bill, are lettered (a) to (h), and are printed at the end of this article.*
With the exception that old buildings are now practically brought into the same category as new buildings, I do not see any objection to Clause (a). But under Clause (b), the
never since been paid nor even (save for the two years) been claimed
* See page 222.
Council are seeking for power over buildings which may be erected even in a park, because "domestic buildings" are not defined. Of course, blocks of artisans' dwellings, "enclosed "in a courtyard exclusively belonging to them," should be subject to the same control as if they fronted a street, but I much question whether the Council had only in view such dwellings. The "light and air" part of the clause requires very careful consideration.
Clause (c) is distinctly of a confiscatory character. Under it, a rebuilding may be impossible, and the explanatory note
"and the only question is whether the plaintiff ought to have appealed "to the Commissioners. We think that he was not bound to do so. Being assessed in respect of that which was not subject to the land "tax, he had as much right to treat the assessment as a nullity, as if "if it had been in respect of property not in his occupation. See "Governors of Bristol Poor v. Wait. The verdict, therefore, is right. "... The rule must be discharged." His Honour was not aware that this case had ever been in any way impeached; it certainly had not been by any of the cases cited for the present defendant. The very substantial difference between them and Charleton v. Alway was, without going any further into details, that in every one of those there was an unredeemed and so existing land tax or other tax, and, therefore, the question whether the Commissioners had or had not, exclusive of any jurisdiction when the land tax had been redeemed was not, and of course could not be, raised. It followed from what he had said that the defendant Smith was a trespasser and wrong-doer ab initio, and it remained for him to award damages against him. The payment into Court was clearly insufficient. He had no right to make any deductions out of the proceeds of the sale, since he had none to distrain and sell. The auction was peculiar, the plaintiff himself having purchased the cow and calf seized by the defendant. Upon the evidence he could not find that the plaintiff suffered any loss by the mere sale, but he was entitled to be repaid the full proceeds of it, and under the circumstances (there was trespass on plaintiff's premises as well as illegal seizure) to something more. He gave judgment for £15, including the money paid into Court. Mr. Metcalfe asked as to costs. His Honour said the question was about the scale, and he would suggest Scale B, with special allowances. Mr. Ames asked for a copy of the judgment to lay before the Commissioners. His Honour said if he wished to appeal he might say that until Charleton and Alway was reversed his judgment must stand. Mr. Ames said it rested with the Commissioners.-(The Somerset Standard, October 24th, 1891.)
First, the Council
of the Council does not relieve matters. says that "setting back should be compulsory," and then, that "there was no sufficient reason why the public should not "pay a fair price for what it required." A "fair price who is to determine it? Not a word as to this; but if it is left to the Council to determine, an owner would probably get an inadequate price per foot superficial for the land required for the "setting back," and not a shilling in respect of a building site which was thereby rendered absolutely useless as such.
Clause (d), again, may render useless land which is at present of value, and it is extremely generous on the part of the Council to say that "in their case the owner shall not "be compelled to give up to the public way the land so left "free from buildings." But the Council does not say what is to become of the land" so left free." Nor does it condescend to a "fair price," as for Clause (c). The site may be rendered valueless, the owner may perambulate it as an open space, and may even grow cabbages on it; but what owner could say "nay" when the Council politely tells him that the land taken from him (so far as building upon it goes) "is not to "be given up to the public way, only the open space is"?
Clause (e), on the face of it, is harmless, but who is to determine what is an "adequate" internal area? Some members of the London County Council would, perhaps, leave a fourth of the site as that to be covered with bricks and mortar.
Clause (f) is designed to heal the wounds caused by certain rebuffs which the Council has received on their interposition in the laying-out of new streets. It will be seen that, by this clause, no new street can be laid out without the sanction of the Council in writing, and the man who has acquired an area of land in London, and cannot form a street through it without the consent above stated, has my commiseration. In my opinion, the present Council cares not