No "public importance"; leave denied
2009 case note - 'Public importance' is a crucial factor in the grant of leave - leave to appeal, no general or public importance, commercial significance.
Tax Administration Act 1994; Supreme Court Rules
The Supreme Court refused the applicants leave to appeal, there being no point of law that was of general or public importance, or of commercial significance.
Impact of decision
The decision confirms that "public importance" is a crucial factor in the grant of leave.
The Commissioner issued manual (due to a corruption in the FIRST system) notices of assessment for the applicants' 1992-1995 income tax years. The notices of assessment set out the adjustments to be made to the applicants' assessable income as returned, but did not quantify the amount of tax payable. Statements of account were later issued.
Following further investigation and discussion with the applicants, subsequent notices of assessment were issued. These notices of assessment were also manually prepared and specified the applicants' adjusted assessable income, but did not quantify the amount of tax payable. Further statements of account were issued.
The applicants initially commenced judicial review proceedings against the Commissioner. The judicial review proceedings were settled by way of a Settlement Deed in which the Commissioner agreed to accept the applicants' notices of proposed adjustment outside the statutory response period; the Deed stated that the notices of assessment issued on 17 September 1996 were to be treated as if they had been issued after 1 October 1996, which enabled the dispute to be dealt with under the statutory disputes procedure. The applicants' subsequent challenge to the correctness and validity of the assessments was unsuccessful before the Taxation Review Authority and on appeal to the High Court. The applicants appealed to the Court of Appeal, challenging the jurisdiction of the Taxation Review Authority to determine the initial challenge proceedings. That appeal too was unsuccessful.
The applicants then sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Commissioner opposed the application.
The Supreme Court refused the application for leave to appeal on the basis that the:
- case is unusual, in that the notices of assessment were manually issued and not computer generated
- facts of the case did not give rise to a point of law that was of general or public importance, or of commercial significance
- Court of Appeal's conclusion that the statements of account issued could, in the circumstances, be properly regarded as notices of assessment was a factual conclusion which did not give rise to an issue of principle.