Inland Revenue Commissioners v Luke: HL 1963

The House applied the literal approach to statutory interpretation. However there may be cases where ‘to achieve the obvious intention and produce a reasonable result [the court] must do some violence to the words.’
Lord Reid said: ‘How, then, are we to resolve the difficulty? To apply the words literally is to defeat the obvious intention of the legislation and to produce a wholly unreasonable result. To achieve the obvious intention and produce a reasonable result we must do some violence to the words. This is not a new problem, though our standard of drafting is such that it rarely emerges. The general principle is well settled. It is only where the words are absolutely incapable of a construction which will accord with the apparent intention of the provision and will avoid a wholly unreasonable result, that the words of the enactment must prevail.’


Lord Reid


1963 SC (HL) 65, [1963] AC 557



Cited by:

CitedHarding v Revenue and Customs CA 23-Oct-2008
Lapsed Currency conversion option lost status
The taxpayer appealed his assessment to Capital Gains Tax on his redemption of loan notes arising following the sale of his computer company. He said that they were qualifying corporate bonds. The question was whether a security in which a currency . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Taxes Management

Updated: 11 June 2022; Ref: scu.200611