Recent case updates affecting Rating forecasts


Museums – Hughes (VO) v Exeter City Council (2020) UKUT 0007 (LC)
Following our last update to clients in July, we have been working with rating agents and the Valuation Office Agency to discuss a way forward on appeals both on 2010 and 2017 in respect of museum assessments.

We know the all remaining 2010 appeals will be targeted for discussions by the end of November and an approach is being agreed in relation to 2017 which should see some cases being able to be settled quite quickly with more contentious cases requiring more in depth discussions.

WHE will update clients on progress on museums in the coming months.

Clients will alos be aware of the recent Supreme Court decision Cardtronics UK Ltd and others (Respondents) v Sykes and others (Valuation Officers) (Appellants) [2020] UKSC 21 in which the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal ruling that ATM machines are not rateably occupied separately from the host stores. Whilst this does not mean that all ATMs will be removed from the list, a significant number will be. We are therefore factoring this decision into our forecasting of losses for clients. The benefit of our line by line approach will mean that our forecasts in this area will be the most accurate available.

The Secretary of State was recently unsuccessful in his attempts to apply for the winding up of a special purpose vehicle created purely for rates avoidance. In the case of  SS Business Energy and Industrial Strategy v PAG [2020] EWCA Civ 1017, the High Court had originally refused to wind the company up on the grounds of ‘public interest’ and the Court of Appeal refused to overturn the decision. Without legislative change, it is unlikely that such situations can be dealt with on the grounds of public interest.

Completion Notices have come under some welcome scrutiny in the case of London Borough of Newham v Rad Phase 1 Type B Property Company No1 Ltd (2020) UTLC. In this case, the Upper Tribunal confirmed that the Valuation does not have the option of quashing a Completion Notice if it determines that a building cannot be reasonably completed within 3 months . The Tribunal found that the only options available to the VT is to either dismiss the appeal and confirm the date in the completion notice, or to determine an alternative date.

One final case that might interest LA clients is Atos IT Services v Fylde [2020] EWHC 647 (QB). This was a rather unusual case where the ratepayer had previously paid and then applied to the High Court for a refund on the basis that he should not have been held liable because there was competing occupation of the premises. On the basis that the ratepayer did not have exclusive occupation, it was held that this was a defence to liability and as such, a refund was due. This might become a more established route for ratepayers to dispute liability where they do not wish to refuse to pay and defend a liability order.

Future cases to note where permission to appeal has been granted are:

  • Ludgate House (property guardians) (November 2020)
  • Nuffield (charitable relief and public benefit) (Jan 2021)
  • Derby Teaching Hospitals (charitable relief for NHS foundation hospitals) (May 2021)