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Edwards v Bairstow

[1956] AC 14 (HL)

Case summary last updated at 07/01/2020 19:25 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Edwards v Bairstow

This was a case involving an error of fact by The General Commission regarding tax liability. HL set aside the commission’s decision because it was wrong on the key issue, namely that the operation in question was “in the nature of trade”. 
 
Viscount Simonds: The commission have acted without any evidence or on a view of the facts which could not reasonably be entertained, and therefore made a mistake of fact, which entitled the courts to set aside the DM’s conclusion. 
 
Lord Radcliffe: The facts found may be such that no person acting judicially and properly instructed as to the relevant law could have come to the determination reached; the court may then intervene, having no option but to assume that some misconception of law is responsible for the decision. “But, without any such misconception appearing ex facie, it may be that the facts found are such that no person acting judicially and properly instructed as to the relevant law could have come to the determination under appeal. In those circumstances, too, the court must intervene. It has no option but to assume that there has been some misconception of the law and that, this has been responsible for the determination. So there, too, there has been error in point of law. I do not think that it much matters whether this state of affairs is described as one in which there is no evidence to support the determination or as one in which the evidence is inconsistent with and contradictory of the determination, or as one in which the true and only reasonable conclusion contradicts the determination.” 

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