Brennan v Attorney General

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
Judgment Date01 January 1983
Date01 January 1983
(H.C.)
Brennan
and
The Attorney General

Property rights -Valuation of agricultural land - Valuation carried out between 1852 and 1866 - No revaluation ever taking place - Valuation determining the extent of liability in respect of certain taxes, and the extent of eligibility for certain benefits - Valuation unrelated to the circumstances of the present day - Whether an unjust attack on property rights - Whether arbitrary and unjust discrimination -Whether legislation, by virtue of its purported amendment in 1961, entitled to the benefit of the presumption of constitutionality - Valuation (Ireland) Act, 1852, (15 16 Vict. c. 63 - Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961. (No. 39) -Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Articles 40, 43.

The plaintiffs are members of an unincorporated association of Wexford farmers under the auspices of the Wexford branch of the Irish Farmers Association. As holders of agricultural land the valuation of such land is made by reference to an estimate of the net annual value thereof which in turn was estimated by reference to the average prices of certain agricultural products listed in s. 11 of the Valuation Act, 1852, and which in turn represented an average of prices prevailing from 1849 to 1852. The valuation, known as "The Griffith Valuation" took a period of 14 years to complete for the whole of Ireland on a county by county basis from South to North. When the first valuation was conducted in 1852 agricultural holdings were depressed. Over the course of the following years agriculture became more prosperous and rents rose, with the result that the valuations given to agricultural land in southern counties where the valuation had first been carried out were lower than those other counties where the work was conducted during more prosperous times. The amount of the rateable valuation (PLV) determined the extent of liability of farmers inter alia in payment of income tax and other revenue matters and the payment of rates on agricultural lands to the relevant county council. The plaintiffs claimed. (i) that the Valuation Acts constitute an invidious and unjust attack on property rights, contrary to Article 43 of the Constitution; (ii) that the Act delimits the plaintiffs' rights of ownership in a manner inconsistent with the principles of social justice or in a manner not required by the exigencies of the common good; (iii) the statutory provisions constitute an arbitrary and unjust discrimination against the plaintiffs...

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