Monday, August 24, 2009

Board of Inland Revenue v Haddock - The Negotiable Cow

This was a ficticious case written by the humourist A. P. Herbert for Punch magazine as part of his series of Misleading Cases in the Common Law.

The case involved a Mr. Albert Haddock, who had been in profound disagreement with the Collector of Taxes in relation to the size of his tax bill.

Eventually Mr. Haddock appeared at the offices of the Collector of Taxes, and delivered to him a large white cow "of malevolent aspect". On the cow was stencilled in red ink:

To the London and Literary Bank, Limited
Pay the Collector of Taxes, who is no gentleman, or Order, the sum of fifty seven pounds £57/0/0 (and may he rot!)

Mr. Haddock tendered the cow to the Collector in payment of his tax bill and promptly demanded a receipt.

During the "hearing", the fictitious judge, Sir Basil String, enquired whether stamp duty had been paid on the negotiable instrument. The fictitious prosecutor, Sir Joshua Hoot KC confirmed that a two-penny stamp was affixed to the dexter horn of the cow.

The Collector declined the cow, and had objected that it would be impossible to pay the cow into a bank account. Perhaps unhelpfully, Mr Haddock suggested that the Collector could endorse the cow to any third party to whom the Collector might owe money, adding that "there must be many persons in that position".

A full and entertaining summary of the case can be found on Wikipedia

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