Law, Society, and Economy: Centenary Essays for the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1895-1995

By Richard Rawlings | Go to book overview

6
Tax Law in and after the Wheatcroft Era*

ANDREW PARK

INTRODUCTION: PROFESSOR G.S.A. WHEATCROFT

G.S.A. (Ash) Wheatcroft had a varied and consistently distinguished career during his working life. He was a practising solicitor for a number of years, having qualified in 1929; then a serving officer during the war and for a time after it; he returned to his solicitor's practice for five or six years; then he became a Master of the Chancery Division and held that position from 1951 to 1959; in 1959 he became a Professor of English Law at the LSE, where he remained until 1968, becoming Professor Emeritus thereafter; then he was a director of life assurance companies until 1979; after that he lived mostly in retirement for the rest of his life. He died in December 1987.

Although I am sure that in Ash's periods as a practising solicitor he had to deal with many areas of the law, and taxation was only one of them, nevertheless tax law plainly had a special fascination for him, and he devoted himself to it to an extent that went far beyond merely dealing with the tax problems of his clients. This continued in the years when he was a Chancery Master. In his working life as a Master he probably never had a single tax case to deal with. He was concerned with exciting questions such as whether the case should have been commenced by originating summons or by motion, and whether the costs of the application should be the plaintiff's costs in any event or only plaintiff's costs in the cause. All the same, during this time he was establishing and consolidating his standing as the nation's foremost authority on the law of taxation. He published his first book in the field in 1953,1 a book described 34 years' later by his obituarist in the British Tax Review as 'a revelation to practitioners'.2 The British Tax Review was itself a Wheatcroft innovation in his years as a

____________________
*
A revised version of a lecture given in commemoration of Professor G.S.A. Wheatcroft on 13 June 1995.
1
The Taxation of Gifts and Settlements ( London, 1953; 2nd edn. 1954; 3rd edn. 1958).
2
( 1987) British Tax Review 409. The obituarist was Philip Lawton, who had himself been an editor of the BTR.

-131-

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