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The Supreme Court Annual Report and Accounts 2015–2016

annual-report-2015-16

Section two Performance

Section two Performance Report: Jurisdiction and casework 31 In the particular appeals, both convictions for murder were set aside and submissions were invited as to whether a conviction for manslaughter should be substituted or a retrial for murder take place. UBS AG v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and linked appeal [2016] UKSC 13 HMRC brought appeals in respect of schemes adopted by the respondent banks which were designed to avoid the payment of income tax on bankers’ bonuses. The schemes, which awarded employees ‘restricted securities’, exempt from tax, in place of cash bonuses, had been upheld as effective by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court allowed the appeals, applying the purposive approach to statutory construction which disregards for fiscal purposes elements of a composite transaction which have no purpose other than tax avoidance. An analysis of the purpose of the exemption for restricted securities established that Parliament had not intended it to extend to awards with commercially irrelevant conditions, the only purpose of which was the obtaining of the exemption. Both the schemes imposed restrictive conditions which had not business or commercial rationale. Although the exemption did not therefore apply, the proper basis for the taxation of the bonuses was as shares and not as cash, the value of which was to be assessed as at the date of their acquisition and take account of the impact of the restrictive conditions on the shares’ true value. The JCPC Jurisdiction and casework The JCPC is the court of final appeal for the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies and for those Commonwealth countries that have retained the appeal to Her Majesty in Council or, in the case of republics, to the Judicial Committee. A list of the relevant countries is at Annex A. Although the Judicial Committee was instituted by a United Kingdom Act, the substantive law which it applies is the law of the country or territory from which the appeal comes. The Judicial Committee therefore plays an important role in the development of law in the various constituent jurisdictions and the impact of its decisions extends far beyond the parties involved in any given case, and often involves questions arising out of the relevant constitution and/or the fundamental rights and freedoms of the inhabitants of the country or territory. The JCPC hears a wide variety of cases and deals with complex commercial or wide-reaching matters – often in a short timeframe. The JCPC also has jurisdiction in a number of miscellaneous areas such as appeals from the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College for Veterinary Surgeons, certain maritime disputes and non-doctrinal ecclesiastical matters. Supreme Court Annual Report 2015–2016

32 Section two Performance Report: Jurisdiction and casework Rules and Practice Directions The underlying procedure of the JCPC is in many respects the same as that of the UKSC. The Rules are kept under review and feedback from users, whether formally through the User Group or informally in other ways, is welcomed. The Rules, Practice Directions and forms for the JCPC can be accessed on the JCPC website at www.jcpc.uk The procedure for appealing Unlike in the UKSC where, in most cases, an Appellant requires permission to appeal before he can bring an appeal, the Judicial Committee hears a number of appeals ‘as of right’. The right of appeal to the JCPC is largely regulated by the constitution and legislation of the relevant individual jurisdiction or by Order in Council. In broad terms, provision for leave ‘as of right’ is made where the value of the dispute is more than a specified amount or where the appeal raises questions as to the interpretation of the constitution of the country concerned. In other civil cases, leave may be granted by the court appealed from or, on application, by the JCPC itself. The JCPC receives a number of applications for permission to appeal in criminal cases including ‘death row cases’. Permission to appeal is granted in criminal cases for applications where, in the opinion of the Board, there is a risk that a serious miscarriage of justice may have occurred. The timescale for dealing with applications for permission to appeal in the JCPC is often dependent on the actions of local attorneys or of the relevant court from which the appeal is brought. Although the JCPC can, and has, dealt with applications for permission to appeal quickly, an application for permission would normally be determined with 12 sitting weeks. TABLE 7 – PTAs (1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016) Applications Received 48 Applications Granted 13 Applications Refused 44 Applications with other result 0 Appeals As in the Supreme Court, the hearing date for an appeal is fixed using the time estimate provided by the parties or by the panel which granted permission to appeal, and appeals are almost invariably listed to the convenience of the parties involved, particularly if they are having to travel long distances. Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016: • 45 appeals were heard • 48 judgments were given. Supreme Court Annual Report 2015–2016

Annual Report 2016