The elephant test

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There are those who are arguing that they aren’t tax havens

Of late we’ve heard it from Jersey, Guernsey, Switzerland, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, Cayman and Bermuda.

As Geoff Cook of Jersey Finance has said:

No one can define [‚Äòtax haven’] meaningfully

He’s right of course. No one can. Which is why we prefer the precisely defined term ‚Äòsecrecy jurisdiction’.

And yet not being able to define something is not an impediment to the use of a term. As Lord Justice Stuart Smith said in the Court of Appeal in 1998:

This seems to me to be an application of the well known elephant test. It is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it.

Quite so. The above places are on just about every list of tax havens published in the last thirty years. People know they are tax havens. The fact that they are sticking their heads in the sand and sticking a few feathers on does not make them ostriches, (or international finance centres) as they seek to claim. Only they are persuaded by that.

The elephant test says they are and remain tax havens.

For those of us on the Clapham omnibus (I would stress, a legally recognised concept – as is the elephant test) that’s good enough.

It will be for the G20 as well.

Don’t waste your time protesting guys. Spend it reforming what you do.

PS for a list of references to places claiming they're not tax havens see here.