Clark (Inspector of Taxes) v Oceanic Contractors Inc: HL 16 Dec 1982

HL Income tax, Schedule E – Non-resident employer – Employees working in U.K. sector of North Sea – Whether employer liable to deduct tax from emoluments – Income Tax (Employments) Regulations 1973 – Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970, s 181 and s 204 – Finance Act 1973, 5 38 – Continental Shelf Act 1964 – A foreign company which was not resident in, but maintained places of business within the United Kingdom, engaged personnel (United Kingdom residents and others) to work on barges and other vessels in the United Kingdom sector and other sectors of the North Sea. The employees were paid in U.S. dollars by cheques drawn in Brussels on a New York bank account. Cheques might be (a) deposited in a bank designated by the employee, (b) seat to any person designated by the employee or (c) delivered to the employee himself on his barge or vessel.
The House considered the principle of statutory interpretation that a statute should be confined to the territory within which it operates. Lord Wilberforce said: ‘That principle, which is really a rule of construction of statutes expressed in general terms, and which as James LJ said is a ‘broad principle’, requires an enquiry to be made as to the persons with respect to whom Parliament is presumed, in the particular case, to be legislating. Who, it is to be asked, is within the legislative grasp or intendment, of the statute under consideration?’ and
Lord Scarman said: ‘the general principle . . is simply that, unless the contrary is expressly enacted or is so plainly implied that the courts must give effect to it, United Kingdom legislation is applicable only to British subjects or to foreigners who by coming to the United Kingdom, whether for a short or a long time, have made themselves subject to British jurisdiction. Two points would seem to be clear: first, that the principle is a rule of construction only, and secondly, that it contemplates mere presence within the jurisdiction as sufficient to attract the application of British legislation.’
Whether and to what extent a law applies in relation to foreigners outside the jurisdiction depends upon who is ‘within the legislative grasp, or intendment’ of the relevant provision.

Lord Wilberforce, Lord Scarman
[1983] 2 AC 130, [1982] UKHL TC – 56 – 183
Income Tax (Employments) Regulations 1973, Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 181 204, Finance Act 1973 38, Continental Shelf Act 1964
England and Wales
ApprovedEx parte Blain; In re Sawers CA 1-Aug-1879
Where legislation regulates the conduct of an individual, it may be so construed as to limit it to conduct by United Kingdom citizens anywhere.
James LJ referred to ‘broad, general, universal principle that English legislation, unless the . .

Cited by:
CitedSerco Ltd v Lawson and Foreign and Commonwealth Office CA 23-Jan-2004
The applicant had been employed to provide services to RAF in the Ascension Islands. He alleged constructive dismissal. There was an issue as to whether somebody working in the Ascension Islands was protected by the 1996 Act. The restriction on . .
CitedGaudiya Mission and others v Brahmachary CA 30-Jul-1997
The High Court had found the plaintiff to be a charity, and ordered the Attorney-General to be joined in. The A-G appealed that order saying that the plaintiff was not a charity within the 1993 Act. The charity sought to spread the Vaishnava . .
CitedSerco Ltd v Lawson; Botham v Ministry of Defence; Crofts and others v Veta Limited HL 26-Jan-2006
Mr Lawson was employed by Serco as a security supervisor at the British RAF base on Ascension Island, which is a dependency of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena. Mr Botham was employed as a youth worker at various Ministry of Defence . .
CitedAgassi v Her Majesty’s Inspector of Taxes HL 17-May-2006
The tax payer played tennis and was paid sums for when he played in England. The sums were paid to his overseas based company.
Held: The revenue’s appeal succeeded. The ‘legislative intendment in relation to sections 555 and 556, and their . .
CitedOffice of Fair Trading v Lloyds TSB Bank PlC and Others HL 31-Oct-2007
The House was asked whether the liability of a credit card company under the 1974 Act applied where the contract was performed abroad and subject to foreign law.
Held: The principle which disapplied an English statute in an extra-territorial . .
MentionedMasri v Consolidated Contractors International Co Sal and Others HL 30-Jul-2009
The claimant sought to enforce a judgment debt against a foreign resident company, and for this purpose to examine or have examined a director who lived abroad. The defendant said that the rules gave no such power and they did, the power was outside . .
CitedCox v Ergo Versicherung Ag SC 2-Apr-2014
The deceased army officer serving in Germany died while cycling when hit by a driver insured under German law. His widow, the claimant, being domiciled in England brought her action here, claiming for bereavement and loss of dependency. The Court . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Jurisdiction, Taxes Management, Income Tax

Updated: 10 December 2021; Ref: scu.192277