JUDGES ARE considering unprecedented legal action against the government in a row over changes to their pension rights, reports The Times .
A working group of senior judges has instructed leading counsel to advise on the legal options, including suing the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC. The move opens up the intriguing question of which judge would hear a case brought by the judiciary against the Lord Chancellor, says the paper.
One solution would be for the case to be heard by a judge unaffected by the row over pensions. But last night Andrew Tyrie, a Conservative member of the Commons Constitutional Affairs committee, gave a warning against potential legal action. Tyrie says: “If it is the case that parts of the judiciary were considering taking legal action, I would have thought that would be very unwise.”
The senior judges — as well as the Lord Chancellor’s own legal advisers — have instructed counsel at the leading pensions set of chambers, Wilberforce Chambers, to help to resolve the crisis that has arisen over tax changes to take effect in April which severely hit judges’ pensions. A senior High Court judge confirmed leading counsel had been instructed, saying: “If you’re asking me, ‘is suing the Department for Constitutional Affairs a theoretical proposition?’ I don’t see why not. If you’re asking me, ‘is it actively under consideration?’ I’m not in a position to say.”
Several judges are threatening to resign unless the Lord Chancellor takes steps by April to protect their pensions from the impact of the new legislation. The Lord Chancellor has pledged to introduce a Judicial Pensions Bill to restore the judges’ position, but that is unlikely to find a slot and, even if it does, is unlikely to be carried by the Commons, which regards it as special pleading by the judiciary.
THE FINANCIAL services industry pays over a quarter of all corporate tax revenues, official figures have shown, illustrating the vulnerability of the Treasury's finances to swings in the sector, says the Financial Times.
The contribution from financial services is out of all proportion to the size of the industry, which accounts for less than one-tenth of national income.
The figures from HM Revenue & Customs also show how the Exchequer has suffered from the travails of the markets after the bursting of the high-technology bubble.
The share of corporate tax receipts paid by financial services has fallen from a peak of 36% in 2000.
The significance of the industry for tax revenues, underpins the Treasury's optimistic forecasts for the public finances. Chancellor Gordon Brown, expects banking profits to continue to surge ahead, raising corporate tax revenues back to their peak levels of 2000.
If financial services profits fall short, the Treasury would find it almost impossible to hit its borrowing targets. Its forecasts project corporate tax revenues to rise from 2.3% to 3.5% of gross domestic product in the four years to 2007-08.
BUSINESS INVESTMENT has plunged to the lowest ever under Labour's tax-and-spend policies, draining the dynamism of the UK economy, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will state today, says the Daily Telegraph.
In a Pre-Budget report broadside, the CBI says the budget deficit is mounting to risky levels despite a raft of new taxes that have cost business an extra £50bn since 1997 and pushed Britain far down the Oganisation for Economis Cooperation and Developement world tax league.
The CBI calls for £10bn a year in cuts on health, benefits, and local authorities to help plug the "black hole" in state finances and rein in the "dramatic rate of growth of public spending".
Failure to control borrowing will lead to a damaging rise in debt and interest costs, but any savings must come from lower spending not taxes.
STANDARD LIFE will this week release its last set of results that do not give any profits figures, as it gears up to demutualise, reports the Scotsman.
Being a mutual insurer, the Edinburgh-based group is not obliged to disclose profitability and has previously only released details of funds under management and new business.
But, its annual report and accounts for the 2005 calendar year will give pre-tax profits figures for this year, last year and the previous one, as it vies to rally the support of the City in the run-up to it shedding its mutual status.
Third-quarter results out this week will no give such details, but are expected to show a further upturn in profitable business lines.
"These will be the last figures that will not feature profits," says a spokesman. "Our annual results will give profits for 2005 and what they were in 2004 and 2003.
ONE OF the country's biggest fund management groups has written to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to demand that foreign companies listing their shares in London should be expected to meet higher boardroom standards, according to the Guardian.
In the letter to the FSA, F&C Asset Management highlights the rise in the number of international companies listing their shares in London and suggests this is because the standards demanded here are less onerous than in the US.
F&C, which does not mention specific companies, wants the regulator to bring the standards required of foreign firms up to those of British-based companies. Companies from Russia or former Soviet republics are among overseas domiciled firms to list, or consider listing, in London in recent months. Among them are two of Russia's biggest steel firms: EvrazHolding and Novolipetsk.
At the moment, any company based outside Britain does not have to comply with the City's combined code on corporate governance, which sets out the standards with which UK-based companies must comply. The code is regarded as one of Europe's toughest. It requires the roles of chairman and chief executive to be split, for instance, and for a balance of executive and non-executive directors.
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Senior Managers Regime
Interest rate outlook unchaged
FCA made demands last week
'Unsung' part of FSCS work