Savjani v Inland Revenue Commissioners: CA 1981

The question arose as whether the Inland Revenue were concerned with the provision of services in their activities relating to the adminsitration of the taxation system, so as to bring them within section 20 of the 1976 Act.
Held: They were providing services.
Templeman LJ said: ‘The Race Relations Act 1976 undoubtedly poses and is continually posing a large number of administrative difficulties both for the Crown and for large organisations; and in the present instance the Inland Revenue are to be treated with sympathy rather than criticism. Undoubtedly their task has been made more difficult by the Act if it applies to them. On the other hand, the Act was brought in to remedy very great evil. It is expressed in very wide terms, and I should be very slow to find that the effect of something which is humiliatingly discriminatory in racial matters falls outside the ambit of the Act. Nevertheless, of course, one must look at the Act and construe its provisions. ‘ and ‘As Mr. Moses on behalf of the revenue submitted, the board and the inspector are performing duties – those duties laid upon them by the Act which I have mentioned – but, in my judgment, it does not necessarily follow that the board and the inspector are not voluntarily, or in order to carry out their duty, also performing services for the taxpayer. The duty is to collect the right amount of revenue; but, in my judgment, there is a service to the taxpayer provided by the board and the inspector by the provision, dissemination and implementation of regulations which will enable the taxpayer to know that he is entitled to a deduction or a repayment, which will entitle him to know how he is to satisfy the inspector or the board if he is so entitled, and which will enable him to obtain the actual deduction or repayment which Parliament said he is to have. For present purposes, in my judgment, the inspector and the board provide the inestimable services of enabling a taxpayer to obtain that relief which Parliament intended he should be able to obtain as a matter of right subject only to proof. ‘ and
‘On behalf of the revenue Mr. Moses submitted that the Race Relations Act 1976 does not apply to the Inland Revenue at all, but he naturally and wisely recoiled from the suggestion that the inspector of taxes might decline to interview a taxpayer if the taxpayer were coloured. He makes forcibly the submission that, when the board decides for sensible reasons that a higher standard of proof is required from taxpayers who come from the Indian sub-continent, the board are not providing a service to that taxpayer; they are carrying out their duty to the Crown. As I have already indicated, it does not seem to be that the two concepts are mutually exclusive. The board and the inspectors perform their duty and carry out a service and, in my judgment, it is a service within the meaning of section 20 of the Race Relations Act 1976.’
Lord Denning MR said: ‘I would only mention Reg. v Immigration Appeal Tribunal, Ex parte Kassam [1980] 1 WLR 1037, which was before another division of this court. In that case discrimination was alleged against the immigration authorities. The court held that, in dealing with people coming in under the immigration rules, the immigration authorities were not providing ‘services’ within the meaning of the Act. This case is very different. The revenue are providing ‘services’ in regard to relief from tax or repayment of tax. Those services come within the provisions of the Act. If there is discrimination in the carrying out of those services, it is unlawful. ‘


Lord Justice Templeman, Lord Denning MR


[1981] QB 458


Race Relations Act 1976 20


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Immigration Appeal Tribunal, Ex parte Kassam CA 1980
Discrimination was alleged against the immigration authorities.
Held: In dealing with people coming in under the immigration rules, the immigration authorities were not providing ‘services’ within the meaning of the Act. The words the . .

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Entry Clearance Officer, Bombay, Ex parte Amin HL 1983
The House was asked whether the grant of special vouchers under the special voucher scheme introduced came within section 29 of the 1975 Act. Acts performed pursuant to a government function did not come within the meaning of service. Discrimination . .
CitedSaggar v Ministry of Defence EAT 25-May-2004
Three Defence employees sought to bring claims of variously race and sex discrimination against the Ministry. In each case their services were provided almost entirely abroad, and the defendant argued that there was no jurisdiction to hear the case, . .
CitedGichura v Home Office and Another CA 20-May-2008
The claimant sought damages after his treatment as a disabled person whilst held in immigration detention centres. The court dismissed his claim on the basis of Amin.
Held: The application of the Amin case was too simplistic. The various . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.222589