Jewish Blind Society Trustees v Henning

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date10 November 1960
Judgment citation (vLex)[1960] EWCA Civ J1110-2
Date10 November 1960
CourtCourt of Appeal

[1960] EWCA Civ J1110-2

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal


The Master of the Rolls,

Lord Justice Pearce, and

Lord Justice Harman

The Jewish Blind Society

MR. ANTHONY CRIPPS, Q.C., and MR. J. RAYMOND PHILLIPS appeared on behalf of the Appellant, instructed by the Solicitor of Inland Revenue.

MR. W. ROOTS, Q.C, and MR. JOHN C. TAYLOR appeared on behalf of the Respondents, instructed by Messrs. Rubinstein, Nash & Co.


: This appeal relates to certain premises known as "Rokefield", Westcott Street, Westcott, near Dorking, being a home for blind persons maintained by the Jewish Blind Society, The case turns upon the effect, as applied to this case, of Section 9 (1) of the Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955.


The facts are set out in the Decision of the Lands Tribunal and from that decision I will quote shortly: "The hereditament comprises a large three-storey house standing in ten and a half acres of grounds. The house which was originally built as a private house has been extended and adapted for its present use for the accommodation and treatment of blind persons. Accommodation is provided for sixty-four blind persons, twenty of whom are chronic invalids and the remainder all suffer from some disability in addition to blindness for whose treatment occupational therapy is provided." The Decision goes on to refer to the resident nursing and medical staff and the outside and domestic staff. Then it states that the Society "have arrangements with Local Authorities in regard to the home both under the National Health Service Act, 1946, and the National Assistance Act, 1948", although it is later stated "I had no evidence of the terms of any arrangements" under the Acts, But on the assumption (as I suppose) that there were such arrangements, the Lands Tribunal decided that the case did fall within paragraphs (b) and (c) of the first sub-section of Section 9 of the 1955 Act.


When the case first came before this Court some little time ago, it appeared desirable that we should know what in truth the facts were about those so-called arrangements. The case was therefore adjourned and an agreed statement of facts was prepared, to which I shall make some allusion later, but which makes it quite plain that, save and except to some small extent under one of the sections, there are in fact no arrangements properly so called at all.


As appears from the Decision, the argument for the Valuation Officer before the Lands Tribunal was that the word "structure" which is used in the sub-section meant something different from, something less extensive than, the entire hereditament which would or might be the subject matter of rating. The Lands Tribunal rejected this argument, applying the general definition of "structure" which had been pronounced, in a case quite different from this case, by the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, For my part, I think this hereditament is in truth not a structure within the meaning of that sub-section, although that view is not necessarily decisive in the present case for reasons which will later appear.


It will at this stage be desirable that I should make the necessary reference to the 1955 Act, it is relevant to observe that Section 7 of the Act deals with cases where "hereditaments", being used as places of religious worship, are entitled to relief from rates. Section 8 is expressed to apply to "the following hereditaments, that is to say" — and in paragraph (a) there is a well-known class of case, "any hereditament occupied for the purposes of an organisation (whether corporate or unincorporate) which is not established or conducted' for profit", etc, and other "hereditaments" are referred to later in the subsection. Then one comes to Section 9, and sub-section (1) opens with this language: "For the purpose of ascertaining the gross value of a hereditament for rating purposes, no account shall be taken — (a) of any structure belonging to the Minister of Health and supplied by that Minister, or (before the thirty-first day of August, nineteen hundred and fifty-three) by the Minister of Pensions, for the accommodation of an invalid chair, or of any other vehicle (whether mechanically propelled or not) constructed or adapted for use by invalids or disabled persons". Proceeding to the other paragraphs: "or (b) of any structure belonging to a local health authority, or to a voluntary organisation formed for any of the purposes mentioned in sub-section (1) of section twenty-eight of the National Health Service Act, 1946 (which relates to the prevention of illness, and to the care and after-care of persons suffering from illness or mental defectiveness), and supplied for the use of any person in pursuance of arrangements made under that sub-section; or (c) of any structure belonging to a local authority, within the meaning of section twenty-nine of the National Assistance Act, 1948 (which relates to welfare arrangements for blind, deaf, dumb and other handicapped persons), or to such a voluntary organisation as is mentioned in Section 30 of that Act, and supplied for the use of any person in pursuance of arrangements made under the said section twenty-nine; or, (d) of any structure which is of a kind similar to structures such as are referred to in paragraph (a), paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of this sub-section, but does not fall within that paragraph by reason that it is owned or has been supplied otherwise than as mentioned in that paragraph". I drew attention in my citation to the opening words of the sub-section, and I further note that paragraph (a) is clearly limited to structures which are merely adjuncts to some other building, and it would, I should have thought, have been most unusual and unnatural as a matter of drafting for a section to begin by first illustrating an obviously limited nature of edifice and then to go on gradually to expand the significance of the word "structure" until it had become synonymous with the hereditament as a whole.


I therefore think that the argument which the Valuation Officer presented to the Lands Tribunal, and which was presented to this Court, is a very cogent argument, and for my part I would be prepared to hold that "Rokefield" is not a structure within this section at all. But, as I have said, it is not necessary to decide that point in this case, and I therefore refrain from attempting any definition of the word "structure" as it is used in this sub-section. I will proceed on the basis that I am not right in my limitation of the word so as to exclude the premises here in question.


I turn therefore, to paragraph (a) of sub-section (1), Section 9. I do not re-read the paragraph, but it is quite plain that this house "Rokefield" is not a structure within the terms of paragraph (a). Next comes paragraph (b), and the first question which arises is: is the Jewish Blind Society "a voluntary organisation" — within that paragraph — "formed for any of the purposes mentioned in sub-section (l) of Section 28 of the National Health Service Act, 1946?" I think the answer to that question is in the negative. The purposes which are mentioned in sub-section (l) of Section 28 of the 1946 Act are threefold; they are first "the purpose of the prevention of illness", second "the care of persons suffering from illness or mental defectiveness", and third "the after care of such persons" — that is, persons suffering from illness or mental defectiveness. The present case can only, as I see it, be brought within that catalogue by treating the blindness from which the unfortunate inmates of "Rokefield" suffer as being an illness within the meaning of that sub-section. The word "illness" is interpreted in Section 79 of the Act as follows: "'illness' includes mental illness and any injury or disability requiring medical or dental treatment or nursing". It is true from the facts which I have stated that a great number of these unfortunate people do require medical treatment or nursing; but that is not because they are blind; it is because, as the Decision states, they suffer also from some other additional disability. The main object of this Society as stated in its constitution, is that of providing assistance to indigent Jews who are blind or virtually blind. I therefore think that this organisation is not one which falls within the words I have quoted from paragraph (b), and if that conclusion is right it follows that the case cannot be brought within that paragraph.


If I am wrong as to that point, and if in truth it was proper to hold that the organisation was one formed for any of the purposes mentioned in the sub-paragraph, then it is still necessary for the Society to satisfy the Court that the promises were supplied for the use of persons in pursuance of arrangements made under sub-section (1) of Section 28 of the National Health Service Act, 1946. It is at this point that I feel the new evidence is decisive, because it is quite plain that at the most only four of the sixty-four inmates of this home are there as a result of anything which could be called in any sense an "arrangement" with a Local Authority. It seems to me that is insufficient to enable you to predicate of this structure (if I may so describe it) that it has been "supplied for the use of any person in pursuance of arrangements made under" sub-section (1) of Section 28 of the Act of 1946.


Then there follows paragraph (c), and that opens with the Delphic remark: "of any structure belonging to a local authority, within the meaning of Section 29 of the National Assistance Act, 1948". The Lands Tribunal, when the matter was before it, made the pertinent observation that "The sub-section lacks that clarity which usually distinguishes the work of Parliamentary draftsmen", and it is indeed a problem...

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8 cases
  • Almond v Birmingham Corporation
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal
    • 20 December 1965 favour of theratepayer, adopting the widest construction of "structure", but for expressions of opinion in this Court in Jewish Blind Society Trustees v. Henning (1961 Weekly Law Reports page 24) and Walkerv wood (supra) 7 The provision of motor vehicles for disabled people and the provi......
  • Vandyk v Oliver
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 10 February 1975 Section 29. Therefore, it is contended by the Valuation Officer, it is not caught by paragraph (c) of Section 45. 32 In Jewish Blind Society v. Henning (1961) 1 Weekly Law Reports 24, decided under Section 9 of the Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955 which was simil......
  • Royal Cross School for the Deaf v Morton
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 21 February 1975
    ...contributes to the well-being of handicapped people follows from the decision of this Court in Jewish Blind Society v. Banning (1961) 1 Weekly Law Reports 24 where it was held that Section 29 does not cover residential accommodation for the blind. That conclusion was founded on the presence......
  • Eng Chong How and Another; Koay Tuan and Another
    • Malaysia
    • High Court (Malaysia)
    • 1 January 1987
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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