Trinity College Dublin v Commissioner of Valuation

CourtKing's Bench Division (Ireland)
Judgment Date01 January 1920
Date01 January 1920
T. C. D. v. Commr. of Valuation.
THE COMMISSIONER OF VALUATION in Ireland, Respondent (1)

K. B. Div.

Rates - Exemption - Building of a public nature or used for public purposes - Trinity College, Dublin - Freedom from external control - 15 & 16 Vict. c. 63, ss. 15 and 16 - 17 & 18 Vict. c. 8, s. 2.

Trinity College, Dublin, provided university education, and was open to all members of the public, subject to the payment of certain fees. The College was free from all external control, as regards its government, teaching, and finance.

Held, that the buildings of the College were not of a public nature or used exclusively for public purposes, and were not exempt from assessment under the Irish Rating and Valuation Code.

Case Stated for the opinion of the King's Bench Division by the Recorder of Dublin, under the provisions of 23 & 24 Vict. c. 4, sect. 10.

The case came before the Recorder on appeal by the Provost, Fellows, and Scholars of Trinity College, Dublin, against the decision of the Commissioners of Valuation that the buildings of the College were not exempt from assessment as being of a public nature or used exclusively for public purposes.

The following facts appeared from the Case Stated:—

The University of Dublin was founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1591, when the College was incorporated by Charter or Letters Patent under the title of "the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, near Dublin, founded by Queen Elizabeth." The benefits of the College were at one time confined to members of the Church of Ireland, but by the Statute 36 Vict. c. 21, all religious disabilities were abolished, and the College and all offices in it were thrown open to persons of all religious denominations.

The government of the College is in the hands of the Board, in conjunction with the Visitors, save that in matters relating to the conferring of Degrees the sanction of the Senate is required. The

Board consists of the Provost and seven Senior Fellows, and the Fellows, if any, other than Senior Fellows who may be elected by the Board to the office of Bursar, Senior Lecturer, or Registrar, with two representatives of the Junior Fellows and two representatives of the professors. The Senate consists of the Chancellor, or, in his absence, the Vice-Chancellor, and such Doctors or Masters of the University as keep their names on the books of the College. The Council consists of the Provost, or, in his absence, the Vice-Provost, the Senior Registrar, the Registrar, and sixteen elected members of the Senate; the Council nominates to all professorships, except those the nomination to which is vested in some other body or person by Act of Parliament, or by directions of private founders. The Provost is appointed by the Crown. When the office of Chancellor becomes vacant, the Board propose to the Senate the names of three persons from amongst whom the Senate elect a Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor is appointed by the Chancellor. The Fellows are elected by the Board. The Visitors are the Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. The students of the College are of five orders, viz.: 1, noblemen, sons of noblemen, and baronets; 2, Fellow Commoners; 3, Scholars; 4, Pensioners, namely, ordinary students in arts; 5, sizars, admitted annually by examination. For Pensioners, the entrance and half-yearly fees are fifteen pounds and eight guineas respectively; for Fellow Commoners, thirty pounds and sixteen guineas respectively; for noblemen, sons of noblemen, and baronets, sixty pounds and thirty-two guineas respectively. Of the half-yearly fees, one half is distributed among the tutors and professors; the other half is paid into the common fund of the College. The sons and brothers of Fellows and ex-Fellows are exempt from tuition fees.

The College has large endowments, derived in part from parliamentary grants. By Royal Letters of 18th Vict. an auditor of the College accounts must be appointed with the consent of the Visitors, and the annual accounts must be transmitted to the Visitors. By decree of the Board and Visitors, a second auditor, not a Fellow, is to be appointed by the Board to re-audit the accounts of the preceding year, and the annual balance sheet is open at stated times fixed by the Provost for the inspection of the Fellows, and of them only.

The College is free from all external control as regards its government, teaching, and finance. The teaching of the Divinity School is that of the Church of Ireland, and the service in the College Chapel are those of that Church. Degrees in divinity are under the control of a prescribed court of divinity professors, subject to the approval of the Board. Special arrangements may be made for divinity students of other religious denominations; all schemes of divinity teachers must be approved of by the Board, and the Regius Professor of Divinity must be an examiner. No such scheme has been sanctioned by the Board.

Molony C.J. :—

The question for determination by this Court is whether the hereditaments and premises situate in College Green and Lincoln Place, in the city of Dublin, constituting the premises known as Trinity College, Dublin, save and except such portions of the buildings as are used as residences for the students, are of a public nature within the meaning of the provisions of the Valuation Acts, which the Commissioner of Valuation is bound to distinguish as such in the List of Valuations under 17 Vict. c. 8, c. 27.

Trinity College was founded by Charter of Queen Elizabeth in 1591 (34 Elizabeth) under the style and title of "The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity near Dublin, founded by Queen Elizabeth." The object of the foundation was declared to be "for the education and training and instruction of youths and students that they may be better in the study of the liberal arts and in the cultivation of virtue and religion." The Provost, Fellows, and Scholars were declared to be a corporate body, with power to sue and be sued by their corporate name, and to make laws for the regulation of the College.

Immediately upon its incorporation the College received lands from the Corporation of Dublin, comprising the premises now in question, and they subsequently received from the Crown various grants of land in other parts of Ireland, and in addition were voted by Parliament large sums of money for the erection of buildings.

At first the benefits of the institution were confined to members of the Church of Ireland, but admission to the College has been

open to members of all denominations since 1793, and since 1873 the Provostship, Fellowships, and Foundation Scholarships have also been, under the provisions of the statute 36 Vict. c. 21, thrown open to all religious denominations.

I do not propose to go in detail into the history of the institution, which will be fully dealt with in the judgment of my brother Gibson. In determining the question whether they are entitled to exemption, the state of the institution must be considered as of the time when exemption is claimed.

Poor rate was first imposed in Ireland in 1838, and from that year down to 1917 poor rate was regularly paid by the College, and no exemption claimed. In 1902, however, when an effort was made by the Corporation to put into the poor rate items which had never hitherto been borne by the College, they contested the matter, and lodged the amount of the original poor rate in Court, and succeeded in defeating the claim in this Court, and also in the House of Lords.

The position of the College at present is this. The premises that we are dealing with consist of the college park, library, examination hall, dining hall and kitchen, lecture rooms, medical school, museums, laboratories, regent hall, steward's house, Fellows' rooms, printing house, Provost's howe, and gate lodge. It was admitted in the case stated that the students' rooms are not exempt, and Mr. Jellett, in the course of the argument, made a similar concession with regard to the printing house. All the premises here in, question are used in connexion with and form part of the buildings known as Trinity College, and must be considered as a whole: Greig v.University of Edinburgh(1). The College has a large revenue, varying in some details from year to year. The financial statement for the year ending 30th September, 1916, was put in evidence, and it discloses the financial state of the College at that date. It appears from it that the revenue for the year ending 30th September, 1916, amounted to £65,169 13s. 6d., and the outlay to £64,179 17s. 7d., leaving a balance of income over outlay of £989 15s. 11d.. The net rental of estates amounted to £30,954 2s. 6d., and in addition there was received from the

Public Trustee, under the provisions of sect. 39 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, the sum of £1434 13s.. The dividends on investments brought in £17,885, and in addition there were grants from the India Office and the King's Inns in respect of students, amounting to £375. The Amounts received from students in fees and brought into the account amounted to £11,430 14s. 8d.. The amount paid by graduates in respect of the conferring of the higher degrees amounted to £1641 16s. 2d., and there were sundry other sums received amounting to £1448 4s. 10d.

Out of this income the Provost and Fellows, Professors and Lecturers were paid, and in addition the various buildings were maintained, and the salaries and upkeep of the various professional schools provided for. Provision was also made for the Chapel and domestic expenses, and a moderate sum was devoted to charity. The money which comes into the account and which was paid to Tutor Fellows does not, however, represent the entire sum which they receive, because only half the amount of the fees of students is paid into the common fund, the other half being devoted in accordance with the financial rules made...

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