Christian Charity Advertisement Ban Justified

The decision to ban from the sides of London buses a Christian charity’s advertisement - which was perceived by some as homophobic - was not unlawful even though Transport for London had breached rules of procedural fairness and demonstrated a failure to consider relevant issues, the High Court has ruled.

Serious flaws in the decision-making process were outweighed by factors in favour of banning the advertisement, including the ‘grave offence’ that it might cause to gay people, ‘thus increasing the risk of prejudice and homophobic attacks’. The posters had read: ‘Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!”

Core Issues Trust had argued that the ban was ‘politically driven’ and that there was nothing discriminatory about a campaign which suggested that gay people could be helped to ‘move out of homosexuality’ Opponents to the advertisement submitted that it suggested that homosexuality could be ‘cured’ and that this could be viewed as offensive. However, the charity insisted that that was not the meaning intended and that it had nothing but ‘utter respect for people struggling with same-sex attraction’.

The judge said that TfL had applied its advertising policy ‘inconsistently and partially’, but, in the particular circumstances, its refusal to display the advertisement was ‘justified and proportionate, in furtherance of the legitimate aim of protecting the rights of others’. Its policy not to accept advertisements that might cause offence to members of the public was ‘a justified and proportionate restriction’ on the charity’s right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

“The advertisement would cause grave offence to a significant section of the many inhabitants of London - and for those who are gay it was liable to interfere with the right to respect for their private and family life”, the judge said. The advertisement ‘was not a contribution to a reasoned debate’ and leaflets, articles, meetings and the internet provided alternative vehicles for the expression of the charity’s message.

To have displayed the advertisement would also have breached TfL’s duties under the Equality Act 2010 to foster good relations, tackle prejudice and promote understanding, said the judge, who also dismissed arguments that the ban breached article 14 of the ECHR, which forbids discrimination.  However, acknowledging that crucial issues in respect of freedom of expression had been raised by the case the judge said that there were ‘compelling reasons’ why the charity should be granted permission to challenge her decision in the Court of Appeal.

Court decides case based on 37 year old postcard

The resolution of a long-running dispute between the children and carer of Oscar-winning composer, Sir Malcolm Arnold, largely hinged on the interpretation of a brief postcard he wrote to his son. The Court of Appeal ruled that 82 potentially highly valuable manuscripts of his work had been gifted by Sir Malcolm to his children prior to his death and therefore did not form part of his estate.

Sir Malcolm, who was most famous for his score to classic film, the Bridge on the River Kwai, was going through a chaotic period in his life in 1976 when he sent several boxes of his possessions to his daughter, Katherine, including books, works of art, his Oscar statuette and a large number of manuscripts. At the same time, he wrote a card to his son bearing the words: ‘All the books, pictures, sculptures etc. are for you and Katherine to share and keep, or sell it if you like! Dad’.

In upholding an appeal by Robert and Katherine, the court ruled that the word ‘etc’ used by Sir Malcolm in the card embraced the manuscripts and that he had intended to give them to his children. The ruling means that, of 103 manuscripts held by the Royal College of Music pending the outcome of the litigation, Robert and Katherine are entitled to 82 that were contained in the boxes.  The remainder will pass to Anthony Day (who devotedly cared for the composer in his final years) under the terms of the composer’s will of which Mr Day was the principal beneficiary.

Ruling on a separate issue in the case, the court rejected Robert and Katherine’s plea that Mr Day should be required to repay into Sir Malcolm’s estate £36,000 that he received from their joint bank account in the four years before the composer’s death.  The money had been gifted, with the composer’s consent, to Mr Day who had held an enduring power of attorney over the ailing Sir Malcolm’s affairs.

 

Summary of today’s budget

A summary of the more important planning points for clients arising from today's budget.

Private Client[bulletlist]

  • SEIS scheme will be extended.

  • Tax-free childcare vouchers to be introduced plus increased support for low-paid families.

  • Single-tier pension brought forward to 2016.

  • Equitable Life - additional help for those who bought with-profits purchasers on their with-profits before 1992 (by way of ex-gratia payments).

  • 'Help to Buy'. Interest-free government backed loans for newly built homes costing £600,000 or less.

  • Mortgage guarantees offered for loans to homeowners.

  • Fuel Duty Escalator. September fuel duty increase cancelled.

  • Alcohol duty escalator for beer is scrapped and beer duty cut (Beer will be a penny a pint cheaper).

  • Income Tax personal allowance to be raised to £10,000 from 2014 (a year early).

  • The amount which can be owed to an employer for a loan at a beneficial rate is to be increased to £10,000 from 2014.

  • The 'exempt amount' for IHT which can be transferred to a non-domiciled spouse is being increased to the current 'nil band'.[/bulletlist]


Commercial[bulletlist]

  • CGT relief to be extended for companies .

  • R&D 'above the line' credit being increased to 10 per cent.

  • AIM to be reformed by abolition of stamp duty on transactions.

  • Main rate Corporation Tax to be cut to to 20% from 2015 (the same as the small rate of CT).

  • Employment allowance - will allow employers to deduct £2,000 from their NI bills - an incentive to small business to hire more people.(from next year)

  • Benefits in kind on company cars will increase overall, but new lower rates are introduced for cars with low emissions of carbon dioxide.

  • Tax planning benefits of using limited liability partnerhsips (LLPs) are being limited.[/bulletlist]


General

A 'massive' package of measures to prevent tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

 

Sir Joshua Reynolds’ Masterpiece a ‘Wasting Asset’

The latest custodians of one of Britain's best loved stately homes have triumphed in their fight to avoid capital gains tax on the £9.4m sale of a painting which many view as Sir Joshua Reynolds' greatest masterpiece. The Upper Tribunal ruled that the painting should be viewed as ‘machinery or plant’ within the meaning of section 44 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 and was thus deemed to be a ‘wasting asset’.

‘Omai’, Sir Joshua's romantic portrait of one of the first South Pacific Islanders to visit Europe, was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776 and for centuries graced the walls of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. The painting, which was part of the estate of politician, soldier and erstwhile Chairman of the BBC's Board of Governors, Sir George Howard, was sold at Sotheby's in 2001.

The executors argued that, as the painting was one of the main draws for visitors to the stately home, it should be categorised as plant or machinery used in the running the house as a business and thus exempted from capital gains tax. It was submitted that, on a correct interpretation of the act, the painting was a wasting asset that became worthless, at least for tax purposes, 50 years after it was placed on public display in the 1950s.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs argued that, although ‘Omai’ was ‘no doubt greatly admired by visitors’, its sale did not lead to any falling off in visitor numbers. However, Mr Justice Morgan accepted the executors' plea that the painting was part of the ‘functional apparatus’ used in the management of the estate and that no capital gains tax was payable on its sale.

"I accept that there is something surprising in holding that an asset of high value, and one liable to appreciate in value, with a predicted life of more than 50 years, was a wasting asset", the judge observed. But he nevertheless ruled the wording of the act was clear and meant the painting was deemed to be a wasting asset ‘even though it would not otherwise be thought of’ as such.