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LAW JOURNAL REPORTS
THE YEAR 1896.
DECIDED BY THE
JUDICIAL COMMITTEE AND THE LORDS OF
ber majesty's Pridy Council,
The House of Lords (Scotch and Trish Appeals),
JAMES EYRE THOMPSON,
PRIVY COUNCIL, VOL. LXV.
[CONTENPORARY WITH LAW REP. (1896] A. C.)
Law Publishers and Booksellers.
CASES ARGUED AND DETERMINED
IN THE COURT OF
THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE AND THE LORDS OF
Wer Majesty's Privy Council
(INCLUDING SCOTCH AND IRISH APPEALS IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS).
MICHAELMAS 1895 TO MICHAELMAS 1896.
THE HUNTER DISTRICT WATER
Held, that no lands outside the limit of 1895.
sixty yards were rateable, as there was Nov. 18. (appellants) v. THE NEWCASTLE nothing to shew that the Act intended lands Dec. 7.
WALLSEND COAL COMPANY, LI- in one occupation to be regarded as one in-
divisible unit for rating purposes.
Appeal from the Supreme Court of New
South Wales The facts sufficiently ap1892-By-law--Construction,
pear in the judgment. An Act of Parliament of New South Wales empowered the appellants to make H. H. Cozens-Hardy, Q.C., F. Vaughan by-laros in regard to water supply, “ for Hawkins, and W. H. Cozens-Hardy, for determining, making, and levying the rate
the appellants. to be paid in respect of lands and
Joseph Walton, Q.C., G. Wood Hill and tenements distant not more than sixty yards H. G. Davies, for the respondents. from any main, ... although such lands or premises are not actually connected with
LORD MACNAGATEN delivered the judg
ment of their Lordships (1): The respondents were owners and occu
The appellants are a “board of water piers of land with a colliery in operation supply and sewerage” for the district of the and a private railway, and a water main Lower Hunter. They were incorporated belonging to the appellants crossed this rail
by Act XXVII. of 1892 as the “Hunter way and ran through one corner of the District Water Supply and Sewerage land. The respondents used no water sup- Board." plied by the board. The appellants con
The respondents are owners and occutended that lands outside the prescribed limit were rateable when they formed one
(1) Lord Hobhouse, Lord Macnaghten, Lord holding with lands within that limit: Morris, and Sir Richard Couch. VOL. 65.-P.C.
HUNTER DISTRICT WATER SUPPLY &c. BOARD v. NEWCASTLE &c. Coal Co. piers of a mining property within the ment. Four, styled “municipal members,” district of the Lower Hunter comprising are elected—two by certain specified muni8,772 acres of land with a colliery in cipalities, and two by smaller municipalioperation and a private railway connect- ties within the district of the Lower ing their works with the Great Northern Hunter, grouped together for the purpose Railway.
of the election. The board, as was pointed A water main belonging to the board out by the learned counsel for the appelcrosses the line of the respondents' rail- lants, is not a trading corporation. It way and runs through one corner of their earns no profits for itself or for any of the land.
boroughs or municipal districts within the It is contended by the board that, ac- area under its charge or for the Governcording to the true construction of the ment. The scheme of the Act is shortly Act of 1892, the whole of the respondents' this : The water supply for a “ water disproperty, including their private railway, is trict”- -an expression defined by the Act rateable for water supply. This conten- as meaning “ The area within which water tion is disputed by the respondents, who is or may be from time to time supplied use no water supplied by the board, whose by the board" (sections 2 and 40land in some parts is above the level of is in the first instance provided by the the board's reservoir, and who, if the con- Government. The main works are contention of the board is well founded, would structed by the Government and at their apparently be liable, in addition to the
When the works are passed rate, to a charge of two shillings and six- and approved by the Government officer, pence
every horse and every head of they are by a notification in the Gazette cattle kept on their property, and double transferred to and vested in the board that charge if they were to use any water behalf of her Majesty.” An account supplied by the board.
is made up, and the whole cost becomes This action was brought by the board to repayable by the board by means of enforce their claim. There were no facts periodical payments. A similar account in dispute, nor was there any question as is made up every successive year for the to the amount of the rate, assuming the whole amount expended on the works view of the board to be correct. A verdict during the year. The repayments are was therefore taken by consent for the sum divided into two classes under the heads of 7961. 98. 9d., which was the full amount of “ Permanent works” and “ Renewable of the rate claimed for the year, with works”; with different periods of repayleave for the respondents to move the ment. When the works are vested in the Court to enter the verdict for them. board it becomes their duty to administer
On appeal to the Supreme Court the all matters relating to the water supply verdict was entered for the respondents. “in correspondence
with the Sir Frederick Darley, C.J., with whom Minister" (that is, the Secretary for Public Mr. Justice Innes concurred, was of opi- Works or other responsible Minister of the nion that the language of the Act was Crown) "charged with the administration" not so clear as to compel the Court to of the Act and under the control of the decide against the respondents, “consider- Governor and Executive Council (sections ing the extraordinary result of upholding 31,32, and 2). It is also their duty, subject to the contention” of the board. Mr. Jus- the limitations in the Act, to levy by rates tice Foster, who dissented, thought that and charges a sum sufficient for the serthe verdict was a gross hardship on the vice of the year (section 129), but no money respondents, but, after full consideration,
passes through the hands of the board he could not say that he had any such except for the purpose of collection and doubt as to the meaning of the words used payment into the Treasury sections 28, by the Legislature as to enable him to 29, and 30). The board therefore in subagree with the rest of the Court.
stance is a Government department acting The board is composed of seven mem- under a sort of mixed commission. bers. Three, who are styled “official For the purpose of carrying the Act members,” are appointed by the Govern- into execution the board is empowered to HUNTER DISTRICT WATER SUPPLY &c. BOARD V. NEWCASTLE &c. Coal Co. make by-laws (section 35). In regard to of this case to treat the place rated as a water supply by-laws may be made for tenement.” “ Two houses,” he observes, various purposes, including the following: “or two tenements, are clearly not more
“(V.) For the appointment of a scale distant than sixty yards from one another of charges for water supplied by measure if the nearest parts of each are within and the minimum quantity of water to be that distance.” That may be so. The charged for where water is so supplied. leading idea in the case put by his Honour
“ (VI.) For determining, making, and is the distance between two places. But levying the rate to be paid in respect of here it is not the purpose of the enactlands and tenements to be supplied with ment to define or specify the distance water for domestic purposes otherwise between two objects. The purpose is to than by measure or in respect of lands mark out an area for taxation, which is and tenements distant not more than a very different thing. For the sake of sixty yards from any main constructed by illustration, suppose there were an Act or vested in the board, although the lands declaring that for the purpose of mainor premises by or in respect of which the taining a sea wall lands within the diswater is used may be more than one tance of one mile from high-water mark hundred and fifty feet from any water should be taxed, would anybody seriously reticulation pipe, or although such lands contend that the whole of a man's park or or premises are not actually connected demesne, containing perhaps a thousand with any main. ..."
acres or more, was taxable because an acre Omitting words which are immaterial or two of it happened to lie within the or inapplicable to the case under con- area of taxation ? sideration, the Act declares that by-laws It may, perhaps, be objected that in the may be made “ for determining, making, case supposed the tax or cess would be at and levying the rate to be paid .... in so much per acre, and that consequently respect of lands and tenements distant there would be no difficulty in arriving at not more than sixty yards from any main, the amount of the tax for any given .... although such lands or premises quantity of land. Here, as it was pointed are not actually connected with any main.” out, the tax imposed is according to the Those are the words which seem to have municipal valuation when the subject of given rise to so much difficulty in the taxation is within a municipality and inCourt below. The enactment says that cluded in the municipal valuation. That the board may rate lands within a certain provision, it was argued, must create seridistance from their main. How can that ous difficulty if the view of the responmake lands outside the limit rateable ? dents be adopted. Now the first observaThe appellants contend that lands outside tion that occurs to one on that line of the prescribed limit are rateable when argument is this : If the respondents are they form one holding
with lands within right—if there is nothing in the section the prescribed limit. Where is that to be by or under which the tax is imposed found in the Act? There is nothing in authorising a charge on lands outside the the Act about lands forming one holding prescribed limit-why should any such or being held together with other lands. lands be taxed merely because otherwise There is nothing to shew that the Act there may be a difficulty in assessing some intended lands in one occupation or “held lands which are liable to taxation ? Even as under one ownership," to use Mr. Jus- if the difficulty was insuperable, it would be tice Foster's language, to be regarded as more reasonable that lands declared to be one indivisible unit for rating purposes. liable to taxation should go-scot free than
Mr. Justice Foster indeed seems to that lands outside the taxable area should think that the contention of the appel- be swept within the net. But the truth lants is in accordance with the natural is that when the Act is fairly construed and ordinary meaning of the language the difficulties presented to their Lordships used. After commenting on the expres- in the course of the argument, such as sion “lands and tenements," " it would they were, vanish altogether. be sufficient,” he says, “ for the purposes
It is to be observed that the board is