Opinion Number. 918

Subject

COMMONWEALTH IMMUNITY FROM STATE LAWS WHETHER COMMONWEALTH IS SUBJECT TO STATE STAMP DUTY ON BILLS OF LADING

Date
Client
The Secretary, Commonwealth Flax Industry Committee

The Secretary to the Commonwealth Flax Industry Committee has forwarded

for advice the following memorandum:

The Flax Committee recently shipped 10 tons of flax fibre and tow to Great Britain per S.S. Runic.

Dalgety & Co., the agents of the ship insisted on duty stamps being affixed to the bills of lading.

I argued that as the Commonwealth Government was specified in the bill of lading as the consignor no duty stamp was necessary, but the Company refused to issue the bills of lading unstamped.

To avoid delay, the demand of the Company was complied with under protest.

Future consignments of fibre will be made, and although the amount involved is trivial, will the Attorney-General's Department please give its opinion as to the legal obligation of the Commonwealth Government to affix duty stamps on bills of lading.

In my opinion, the Commonwealth is not liable, under any Act of a State, to pay stamp duty on the bills of lading relating to flax fibre and tow exported by the Commonwealth to Great Britain (D'Emden v. Pedder 1 C.L.R. 91).

[Vol. 16, p. 215]