E-law cases
Custom Search
   Case summaries      Pepper v Hart

Pepper v Hart  [1992] 3 WLR 1032 House of Lords

The House of Lords had to decide whether a teacher at a private school had to pay tax on the perk he received in the form of reduced school fees. The teacher sought to rely upon a statement in Hansard made at the time the Finance Act was passed in which the minister gave his exact circumstance as being where tax would not be payable. Previously the courts were not allowed
to refer to Hansard (See Davis v Johnson).


The House of Lords departed from Davis v Johnson and took a purposive approach to interpretation holding that Hansard may be referred to and the teacher was not required to pay tax on the perk he received.

Lord Griffiths on the purposive approach:

"The days have passed when the courts adopted a literal approach. The courts use a purposive approach, which seeks to give effect to the purpose of legislation and are prepared to look at much extraneous material that bears upon the background against which the legislation was enacted."

Lord Brown Wilkinson on reference to Hansard:

"My Lords, I have come to the conclusion that, as a matter of law, there are sound reasons for making a limited modification to the existing rule (subject to strict safeguards) unless there are constitutional or practical reasons which outweigh them. In my judgment, subject to the questions of the privileges of the House of Commons, reference to Parliamentary material should be permitted as an aid to the construction of legislation which is ambiguous or obscure or the literal meaning of which leads to an absurdity. Even in such cases references in court to Parliamentary material should only be permitted where such material clearly discloses the mischief aimed at or the legislative intention lying behind the ambiguous or obscure words. In the case of statements made in Parliament, as at present advised I cannot foresee that any statement other than the statement of the Minister or other promoter of the Bill is likely to meet these criteria."
Back to lecture outline on aids to statutory interpretation
Back to lecture outline on the purposive approach
Back to lecture outline on judicial precedent