Commissioners of Inland Revenue v City of Glasgow Police Athletic Association

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Normand,Lord Oaksey,Lord Morton of Henryton,Lord Reid,Lord Cohen
Judgment Date09 March 1953
Judgment citation (vLex)[1953] UKHL J0309-4
CourtHouse of Lords
Docket NumberNo. 3.
Date09 March 1953
Commissioners of Inland Revenue
City of Glasgow Police Athletic Association

[1953] UKHL J0309-4

Lord Normand

Lord Oaksey

Lord Morton of Henryton

Lord Reid

Lord Cohen

House of Lords

Upon Report from the Appellate Committee, to whom was referred the Cause Commissioners of Inland Revenue against City of Glasgow Police Athletic Association, that the Committee had heard Counsel, as well on Monday the 2d, as on Tuesday the 3d and Wednesday the 4th, days of February last, upon the Petition and Appeal of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, praying, That the matter of the Interlocutor set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Interlocutor of the Lords of Session in Scotland, of the First Division, sitting as the Court of Exchequer of the 19th of December 1951, might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Interlocutor might be reversed, varied or altered, or that the Petitioners might have such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the printed Case of City of Glasgow Police Athletic Association, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen assembled. That the said Interlocutor of the 19th day of December 1951 complained of in the said Appeal be, and the same is hereby, Reversed except in regard to expenses: And it is further Ordered, That the Question of Law in the Case Staled be answered in the negative: And it is further Ordered, That the said Cause be, and the same is hereby, remitted back to the Court of Session in Scotland to proceed as accords: And it is further Ordered, (by consent), That the Appellants do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Respondents the Costs incurred by them in respect of the said Appeal to this House, such costs to be taxed as between Solicitor and Client and the amount thereof to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered, That unless the Costs, certified as aforesaid, shall be paid to the party entitled to the same within one calendar month from the date of the certificate thereof, the Court of Session in Scotland, or the Judge acting as Vacation Judge, shall issue such Summary Process or Diligence for the recovery of such costs as shall be lawful and necessary.

Lord Normand

My Lords,


The question in this appeal is whether the Respondent Association is a body of persons established "for charitable purposes only". If so, it is agreed that the profits of a trade, namely the holding of annual athletic sports, carried on by them, will be exempt from income tax under Schedule D, by virtue of section 30 (1) ( c) of the Finance Act, 1921, as amended by section 24 of the Finance Act, 1927.


I will first summarize the facts found in the Case Stated by the Special Commissioners. Before 1938 there were various clubs connected with the City of Glasgow Police. In February, 1938, they were merged in the Respondent Association, which was established at that time in order to co-ordinate the various athletic and sporting activities of the members of the Police Force. Attention must be drawn to certain excerpts from the General Rules of the Association.

Rule 2. Objects.—The objects of the Association shall be to encourage and promote all forms of athletic sports and general pastimes.

Rule 3. Officers.—… The Chief Constable shall be President and the Assistant Chief Constables and Superintendents of the Force shall be Vice-Presidents.

Rule 4. Management.—The Management of the Association shall be vested in an Executive Committee, Divisional activities by a Divisional Committee and each branch of sport or pastime by a Sectional Committee.

Rule 5. Committees. (1) Executive Committee.—The Executive Committee shall consist of the President, two Vice-Presidents, one representative from each Divisional Committee, one representative from each Sports Sectional Committee, the Honorary General Secretary and the Honorary Treasurer, ten to form a quorum.

(2) Divisional Committees.—The Annual General Meeting of each Division shall be held in the second week of September… . The business to be transacted at such meetings shall be … ( b) to elect the Divisional Committee, consisting of Superintendent, Lieutenant, Inspector, two Sergeants and five constables.

Rule 8. Membership.—Ordinary membership shall be restricted to officers and ex-officers of the City of Glasgow Police Force.

Rule 10. Subscriptions.—The subscription for each serving member shall be 3d. per week deducted from pay.

Rule 21. Alteration of Rules.—None of the foregoing Rules shall be altered or revoked save by a two-thirds majority of those present at the Annual General Meeting or at a Special Meeting called for the purpose.

Rule 23. Sanction of Chief Constable.—All resolutions and decisions passed at all meetings of the Association are subject to the approval of the Chief Constable.


Membership of the Association was, until 1947, a condition of service for all new entrants into the Glasgow Police Force. In 1948 membership became voluntary but in fact all recruits have continued to join the Association. The present membership is about 85 per cent, of the Force, and there were in September, 1950, nine ex-officers who retained their membership. Ex-officers can render useful services as coaches. The activities of the Association include angling, athletics, badminton, billiards, bowling, boxing and wrestling, cricket, association football, golf, rugby football, shooting, swimming and training in life saving, table tennis, dances, 'bus runs, "mystery tours" by 'bus, and whist drives. Sports are held in May of each year as a preparation for the Annual Sports, the "trade" carried on by the Association for the purpose of raising funds. These Annual Sports are held on the ground of an amateur association football club, the use of which is given without charge. There is an attendance of about 50,000 people, who pay for entry, and the profits are applied solely to the purposes of the Association. Some events are confined to members of the Association, others to members of other police clubs in Great Britain. But the majority of the events are open to all amateurs, including members of the Association. Efforts are made to have some outstanding competitors to attract the public. The members of the Association control the Sports, the spectators and the traffic, and no charge is made for their services. The net proceeds are paid into the general fund of the Association. In the year ended 30th September, 1950, the total revenue of the Association was £2,778, of which £1,225 was derived from members' subscriptions and £1,214 from profits of the Annual Sports. The Association is affiliated to the Police Athletic Association, a body whose rules are approved by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland, and whose objects are to encourage the development of all forms of amateur sport in the Police Forces and to promote and control suitable competitions and championships. The relations between the Respondent Association and the Glasgow Police Force are close, and the Association is regarded as an essential part of the police organization. It plays a valuable part in maintaining health, morale and esprit de corps. It helps to bring the Force into friendly contact with the public, and it enables the members of the Association to mix with members of other professions and trades. The hours of police duty make it almost essential that some special provision should be made for the recreation of the police. The activities of the Association are thus conducive to a contented, fit and efficient police force; they are a help towards recruiting, and to the promotion of good relations with the public. By these means, also, the Association has directly benefited the public.


The Special Commissioners, having found these facts, rejected the only contention then put forward on behalf of the Crown that by reason of the wide nature and extent of the objects of the Association, it was not a body of persons established for charitable purposes only. They were aided in arriving at this conclusion by such cases as in re Goode [1905] 2 Ch., 60 and re Gray [1925] 1 Ch., 362. As I shall not have occasion to refer to these cases again I will say now that so far as they are founded on the principle that gifts exclusively for the purpose of promoting the efficiency of the armed forces are good charitable gifts, they are, in my opinion, unassailable, but that the decision that the actual gifts were of that nature is more doubtful. I would hold further that gifts or contributions exclusively for the purpose of promoting the efficiency of the police forces and the preservation of public order are by analogy charitable gifts.


The Stated Case came before the First Division of the Court of Session. Their Lordships did not address themselves to a discussion and decision of the question of law submitted for their opinion, "whether the City of Glasgow Police Athletic Association is, within the meaning and for the purposes of section 30 of the Finance Act, 1921 (as amended by section 24 of the Finance Act, 1927) a charity, namely a body of persons established for charitable purposes only". The Lord President pointed out that Pemsel's case, [1891] A.C., 531, decided that the words "charity" and "charitable" in the Income Tax Act, 1842 must be construed in their technical meaning according to English law. The words which have to be construed under the Acts now in force are the same. Pemsel's case also disapproved of Baird's Trustees 15 R., 682, in which Lord President Inglis had held that the words "charitable purposes" in the Act of 1842 were to be...

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