Ramsay in reverse
Ramsay in reverse

The following Tax practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Ramsay in reverse
  • Bird
  • Whittles v Uniholdings (No. 3)
  • Blenheims Estate and Asset Management
  • Other ‘Ramsay in reverse’ cases

Lexis®PSL Tax is grateful to Nigel Doran of Macfarlanes LLP for his comments on an earlier draft of this Practice Note. However, the views expressed are those of Lexis®PSL Tax.

The background to the Ramsay principle is described in Practice Note: Ramsay as a guide to statutory construction.

The courts have refined the Ramsay principle over time so that in Arrowtown Assets it was possible for Ribeiro PJ to sum it up in one sentence: 'the ultimate question is whether the relevant statutory provisions, construed purposively, were intended to apply to the transaction, viewed realistically.'

This summary has been quoted approvingly in many later cases (such as BMBF).

It is striking that the summary does not refer to tax avoidance, despite the fact that this is the context in which the Ramsay has been developed. Earlier expressions of the principle, such as in Lord Brightman's judgment in Furniss v Dawson, expressly confined it to tax avoidance cases. However, once the principle had been distilled into Ribeiro PJ's statement in Arrowtown, it no longer appeared to be limited in this way.

This led to an intriguing question: could taxpayers raise the Ramsay principle to their own advantage?

This Practice Note is about some cases in which taxpayers have sought to do just that. In short, there has yet to be a case in which a taxpayer has been successful in

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