We have all had experience of this. I was in the Land Commission Appeals Tribunal one day and the price, we will say, was 70X, and in went my valuer into the witness box and produced a telegram: "I have got a bid for 80X as the price of the place", so that fixed the value and the Tribunal fixed the value on that basis. Of course neither the Tribunal nor myself nor the Land Commission examined behind that 80X. I took it as axiomatic and I used the same approach in another case in which I was at the paying end. I was at the grabber's end in the first one, at the paying end, and I did not twig it, and my clients paid the duty. Fair enough, on my advice, solicitor's advice, valuer's advice, and we agreed. Deputy de Valera is quite right to raise this question of the special purchase, particularly as we are a developing country. Anybody who has been involved in property evaluation realises that there are about 20 different areas that command 20 different prices and there are 20 different types of soil and 20 areas of climate. Open market values are what have to be considered. This is what has to be considered without limitations being written into the Act. Deputy Fitzpatrick said this section gives far too much power to the valuation commissioners. When I first looked at this Bill I wanted limitations. Section 8 is based on all the sections that are relevant to the valuing of assets for estate duty purposes. We all know estate duty was an unjust tax. The actual instruments in relation to valuing the property that was possibly subject to estate duty worked, and worked very well.
The Minister has mentioned various cases. As far as my knowledge as a lawyer goes, there were only three reported cases since the beginning of the century that dealt with the value of the shares in a company. They are the only ones that give difficulty, because the other ones can be dealt with by auctioneers' valuation by the national arbitrator. As regards going to court on the assessment values of shares in a company and in private companies, there are only three reported cases over that long period of time. I think I am right in saying that the three cases were the Jameson case, the Smith case and the McNamee case. The McNamee case was in 1948. If any layman is concerned about the powers of the Revenue Commissioners, he will see in the judgment of the late Martin Maguire a very good judgment in relation to what is evasion and avoidance and the way you value shares in a private company and all the possible matters that can come into the consideration of the valuation of the shares of a company. I would add one that may not appear in the report, that is, the historical interest of a company, and that can go back to Tib's eve. There is no limit on how far it can go back.
If one is a private practitioner acting for a person in relation to assets that have got to be valued for revenue purposes, this is the one skeleton in the cupboard or the unknown terror that we all have in relation to property. It is due to the fact that a lot of transactions take place rather under cover. Property is not sold by public auction or if it is sold by public auction, people do not appreciate all the conditions that are attendant on the title and value of the property. People say a property of 40 acres was sold for such and such but Jim Ryan's was sold for another price. How do you make that out? From my experience of negotiating professionally with the Valuation Office—I should not stigmatise it as the Valuation Office but the Commissioners always refer a case to the Valuation Office unless it is agreed in the first instance —I can say they are skilled in this matter. Might I say that the valuers are not just valuers; a lot of them have other sciences to their credit, agriculture, and so on. They take a very reasonable and liberal view provided they are presented with the proper facts and the proper case.
If some smart aleck comes in and tries to get away with portion of the value, fair enough, he will be resisted, but if a fair case is put to them they will understand it. They always have in my experience. I am not criticising them on this but in fairness they have always, if there was a doubt, because estate duty was such a criminal tax, erred in favour of the alleged criminals, to use the old common law principle; they have always erred in favour of the taxpayer. It is most important that that should have been their attitude to the matter. All I can say is that I have the highest praise for them. I know taxpayers may not think that way but talking to them as a professional man I know the difficulties they have to contend with.