Issue: Travel expenses to and from home

This case considered the situation of a barrister, Mr Newsom, whose chambers were in London but who lived in Whipsnade, which is some distance from London. Mr Newsom had a fully stocked library in his home and during holiday periods, even though his London chambers remained open, he had papers sent to him at his home. It was not disputed that he worked from his home. The issue was whether or not the expense of journeys from his home to London, either to attend court or his chambers, was wholly and exclusively for the purposes of his profession.

The High Court held that Mr Newsom:

“… had chosen to live at Whipsnade because he liked living in the country and wished to enjoy its amenities. On any view, therefore, travelling between Whipsnade and [his chambers] was due partly to the calls of his profession and partly to the requirements of his existence as a person with a wife and family and a home. It followed that the expenses of that travelling were not incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of his profession.”

The Court of Appeal decided:

“Mr Newsom’s purpose in making the journeys was to get home in the evenings or at weekends. The fact that he intended to do professional work when he got there, and did so, does not makes this even a subsidiary ‘purpose’…” Sommervell LJ

The Court further held that:

“… it cannot be said even of the morning journey to work that it is undertaken in order to enable the traveller to exercise his profession; it is undertaken for the purpose of neutralizing the effect of his departure from his place of business, for private purposes, on the previous evening. In other words, the object of both journeys, both morning and evening, is not to enable a man to do his work but to live away from it” Romer LJ. It was found that Mr Newsom carried out his profession in his chambers in London. The fact that he had a law library in his home, for which he was entitled to claim tax deductions, did not change the purpose of his journeys between London and Whipsnade.

“Even busy barristers occasionally have an evening free from legal labour, and I feel sure that if Mr Newsom were lucky enough to have one he would not remain in London on the ground that there was no work to take him to Whipsnade.” Romer LJ.

This is an important case in illustrating that the mere fact that some work is carried on from home does not mean that the journeys to that location are undertaken wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade or profession.

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