Random Musing

“The happiness that is genuinely satisfying is accompanied by the fullest exercise of our faculties and the fullest realization of the world in which we live.”- Bertrand Russell

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The Government is beginning to enjoy this retrospective legislation lark.

I previously wrote about retrospective legislation when Labour were busy wringing the last drops of blood out of the bond market to fund state largesse :

Our current government seems to be getting quite keen on using retrospective legislation; that is, legislation which makes something which was legal at the time now illegal under the new legislation. Imagine, for a moment,  performing some perfectly legal act only to find yourself prosecuted at a later date due to new legislation. Not really a way to run a country I think.

And, last week, noted that Greece was also enjoying playing the game of changing the rules after the event :

Salary cutbacks (called “unified payroll”) for contract workers at the public sector set to be finalized today. Cuts to be valid retroactively since november 2011. Expected result: Up to 64.000 people will work without salary this month, or even be asked to return money. Amongst them 21.000 teachers, 13.000 municipal employees and 30.000 civil servants.

Which neatly brings me on to today’s fresh example of our masters making up the law of yesterday as they go along to maximise the tax take and prop up the ever expanding state :

A bank in the UK has been forced to pay more than half a billion pounds in tax which it had dodged by using “highly abusive” tax avoidance schemes.

One tax dodge involved the bank claiming it should not have to pay corporation tax on profits made when buying back its own IOUs.

The government said it would change the law retrospectively and immediately to stop anyone else using the scheme.

It will be OK though in this case, being a naughty grasping bank which has been subject to this banana republic rule of law which makes it all good in the current bash the banker mood engendered by both state and MSM to deflect attention away from the failings of government itself.

Wikipedia has quite a good section on Ex post facto law, noting that it is generally not permitted in many common law states and, in the case of the USA, expressly forbidden in the constitution. In the case of the United Kingdom, it has this to say (all links as per wiki article) :

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, ex post facto laws are frowned upon, but are permitted by virtue of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. Historically, all acts of Parliament before 1793 were ex post facto legislation, inasmuch as their date of effect was the first day of the session in which they were passed. This situation was rectified by the Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793.[citation needed]

Some laws are still passed retrospectively, in 1990 the Pakistan Act (which readmitted Pakistan to the Commonwealth) was one such law, despite being passed on 29 June 1990, section 2 subsection 3 states that “This Act shall be deemed to have come into force on 1st October 1989”, nine months before it was enacted.[6]

Retrospective criminal laws are prohibited by Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the United Kingdom is a signatory, but several noted legal authorities have stated their opinion that parliamentary sovereignty takes priority even over this.[7][8] For example, the War Crimes Act 1991 created an ex post facto jurisdiction of British courts over war crimes committed during the Second World War.

Taxation law has on multiple occasions been changed to retrospectively disallow tax avoidance schemes.[9]

So, whilst “frowned upon”, they seem quite liberally applied when it comes to raising taxes (see original article linked at the top). Not too much surprise there I suppose but I will stick to my original assertion – not really a way to run a country.

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