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Unit information: Rich Law, Poor Law in 2015/16

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Unit name Rich Law, Poor Law
Unit code LAWD30017
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Cowan
Open unit status Not open



LAWD30120 Trusts.

School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit’s overall aim is to give students an understanding of the complex, diverse but complimentary approaches to social security and taxation law in England and Wales.

It does so through providing students with a broad appreciation of certain key aspects of taxation, financial services and social security law, including pensions – such as income tax (focusing on, for example, bankers’ bonuses), capital gains tax and inheritance tax, charitable taxation; jobseekers’ allowance, personal independence payments, asylum-seeker support, housing benefit – with a focus on the ways in which “fraud”, “avoidance” and “evasion” are constructed in each. In particular, the development of the law around tax avoidance schemes is considered. We look at different images and discursive narratives (official and media) for each; the different patterns and mechanisms of investigation and prosecution; the different concerns that are raised about companies like Amazon, Starbucks etc, which pay little, if any tax, compared with profits, or the banking bail outs, and welfare “fiddles”. The unit seeks answers to these issues partly through history, partly through legal and other constructions, and partly through analysing political responses.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students will have acquired the following:

  1. an ability to appreciate the different identities and principles underpinning taxation and social security
  2. an understanding of the ways in which fraud is considered and prosecuted across taxation and social security
  3. the different images and discourses of taxation and social security fraud
  4. the different issues underpinning taxation and social security prosecutions, including but not limited to non-police and police prosecutions, CPS approaches, and gendered and intersectional difference

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through 10 one-hour lectures and 10 two-hour seminars.

Assessment Information

In order to achieve the learning outcomes, the assessment is made up of two 2000 word essays, both worth 50% each so as to reflect the different aspects of the unit. The subject-matter of the first assessment will concern an engagement with the literature on personal, corporate and commercial taxation fraud. The second assessment will concern an engagement with the literature on social security fraud.

Students will also have the opportunity to submit one formative essay. There will also be ongoing peer and tutor review of performance through mechanisms such as formal class presentations.

The summative assessments will test the learning outcomes by requiring the students to understand the terrain of fraud, linking together and contrasting the different policy aims around taxation, financial services, and social security fraud. This will require an appreciation of the different history and policy aims of the issues, an appreciation of the global flow of capital as well as the link between states and capital, and a reflection on the gap between law and practice.

Reading and References

Dee Cook, Rich Law, Poor Law, Milton Keynes: Open UP, 1989

Ross Cranston, Legal foundations of the Welfare State, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1984

Peter Golding and Sue Middleton, Images of Welfare, Oxford: Blackwell, 1982

Neville Harris, Law in a Complex State, Oxford: Hart, 2013

Neville Harris (ed), Social Security Law in Context, Oxford: OUP, 2006

Natalie Lee, Revenue Law – Principles and Practice, London: Bloomsbury, 2014

Ann Mumford, Tax Policy, Women and the Law: UK and Comparative Perspectives, Cambridge: CUP, 2010

Sol Picciotto, International Business Taxation, Cambridge: CUP, 1989

Andrew Sanders and Richard Young, Criminal Justice, Oxford: OUP, 2010

John Tiley, Revenue Law, Oxford: Hart, 2013