Attorney-General v Wilts United Dairies Ltd: HL 1922

The House heard an appeal by the Attorney-General against a finding that an imposition of duty on milk sales was unlawful.
Held: The appeal failed. The levy was unlawful. Lord Buckmaster said: ‘Neither of those two enactments enabled the Food Controller to levy any sum of money on any of his Majesty’s subjects. Drastic powers were given to him in regard to the regulation and control of the food supply, but they did not include the power to levy money, which he must receive as part of the national fund. However the character of the transaction might be defined, in the end it remained that people were called upon to pay money to the Controller for the exercise of certain privileges. That imposition could only be properly described as a tax, which could not be levied except by direct statutory means.’

Lord Buckmaster
(1922) 38 TLR 781
Bill of Rights 1688 4
England and Wales
CitedGosling v Veley 1850
Wilde CJ said: ‘The rule of law that no pecuniary burden can be imposed upon the subjects of this country, by whatever name it may be called, whether tax, due, rate, or toll, except under clear and distinct legal authority, established by those who . .
Appeal fromAttorney-General v Wilts United Dairies Ltd CA 1921
The Food Controller had been given power under the Defence of the Realm Acts to regulate milk sales. In granting the dairy a licence to buy milk in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, the Food Controller required the Dairy to pay 2d. per imperial . .

Cited by:
CitedTotal Network Sl v Customs and Excise Commissioners CA 31-Jan-2007
The defendants suspected a carousel VAT fraud. The defendants appealed a finding that there was a viable cause of action alleging a ‘conspiracy where the unlawful means alleged is a common law offence of cheating the public revenue’. The defendants . .
CitedTotal Network Sl v Revenue and Customs HL 12-Mar-2008
The House was asked whether an action for unlawful means conspiracy was available against a participant in a missing trader intra-community, or carousel, fraud. The company appealed a finding of liability saying that the VAT Act and Regulations . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.248340