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Cutting a good deal - UK Uncut, Goldman Sachs and the challenge to administrative discretion

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-22, 16:45 authored by Malcolm David James
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess the issues raised by and the possible long-term significance of the judicial review obtained by the pressure group UK Uncut into HM Revenue and Customs’ decision to forgive £10 m of interest payable by the investment bank, Goldman Sachs. Design/methodology/approach – Using Lukes’ (2005) three dimensions of power as a conceptual framework, the paper compares this case with a similar case from the 1980s in order to discuss the importance of democratic oversight of the way in which public bodies discharge their duties, the extent to which this should override the principle of taxpayer confidentiality and the extent to which legal rules and procedures permit such oversight. Findings – The comparison shows that, by permitting the review to proceed, greater weight was given to the importance of democratic oversight in the UK Uncut's case, but the rejection of both cases demonstrates that the tax authority is permitted very wide administrative discretion. However, whilst UK Uncut's challenge ultimately failed, it exposed aspects of the tax authority's relationship with large taxpayers to public gaze. This has contributed to demands for changes in the taxation system, which legislators might eventually feel forced to heed. Originality/value – This paper reminds that any significant shift in public attitudes must always have a beginning, and that, even if the challenge fails, it might be the first tangible evidence of a demand for greater transparency in the administration of the tax system which might lead to future changes.


Published in

Journal of Applied Accounting Research




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


James, M. (2013) "Cutting a good deal – UK Uncut, Goldman Sachs and the challenge to administrative discretion", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, 14 (3), pp.248 - 267

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Management

Cardiff Met Authors

Malcolm David James

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Welsh Centre for Business and Management Research

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  • © The Publisher


  • en

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