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R v Inland Revenue Commissioners, ex p National Federation of Self-Employed [1982]


  • Fleet Street newspapers avoided paying income tax on temporary workers by paying the workers in cash and giving them false names on accounts
  • HMRC negotiated that if the newspapers stopped this unlawful practice, they would only request the previous 2 years of income tax to be paid, rather than the 6 years which statute required
  • This agreement was leaked to the public


  • Could the National Federation of Self-Employed bring a judicial review claim to review the lawfulness of the decision not to act in accordance with the law and demand 6 years’ income tax


  • Permission denied, mandatory order could not be made


  • Lord Wilberforce: when considering whether an applicant has sufficient interest, look at the powers of the respondent, the position of the applicant re those powers and the substance of the breach
  • The second consideration caused the claim to fail; tax agreements are confidential therefore, despite their leaks, no sufficient interest could be found
  • Lord Diplock (dissent): no test, just use discretion; clear words of statute
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