Entente Cordiale takes a hit! - Part II

The FT have covered the decision by France to categorise Jersey as un cooperative and appears to have obtained comment from the French Finance Ministry.

The FT report can be found here and I quote briefly the extract relating to the French Finance Ministry spokesperson:-

“The finance ministry in Paris said the three territories had been added to the blacklist for not complying with a new criterion enforced by the government, of unsatisfactory compliance with an existing convention with France.

It said, in the case of Jersey, this concerned an individual who owed tax to France who had refused to supply information. It was up to Jersey to elicit the information, an official said. He added that the terms of the blacklist would not enter into force for the three territories until January 1 2014, allowing them time to be removed from the list if they fulfilled their obligations by the end of the year.”

The Jersey government response is contained in the same article:-

The Jersey government’s reaction was “one of amazement”, it said. It added that it had contacted the French government seeking an explanation. It is thought to concern a delay in responding to information requests following an appeal by a French taxpayer who has sought a judicial review of the decision to hand over his tax information. The government said: “We are confident that we will be able to resolve this issue with the French authorities.”

If this story has been reported correctly the French authorities have deemed Jersey uncooperative because the tax payer has decided to dispute the entitlement of the French tax authority to the information through the judicial system.

This despite the fact that Jersey has served a notice requiring the information and is pursuing the matter on behalf of the French administration through the Jersey courts, and in that process complying completely with the terms of the tax information exchange agreement between the two countries!

This is a judicial appeal process and in all democracies worthy of the name the judiciary are independent  of government and citizens have a right of appeal to determine if their government is acting legally.

The treaty with France is the OECD Model Tax Information Exchange Agreement or TIEA.  I looked up its terms this morning, and the treaty does address citizens rights.

I quote:-

"Article 8. The rights and safeguards secured to persons by the laws or administrative practice of the requested Party remain applicable to the extent that they do not unduly prevent or delay effective exchange of information."

The right of appeal to a court for a judicial decision is a basic human right and no democratic government has a right to set aside the judicial process.

The French action, if the facts reported in the FT are correct, is disproportionate and unreasonable.

Download PDF Copy Article HTML to Clipboard