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Valuation Office Agency loses important business rates case

wantspacegotspace.co.uk - Valuation Office Agency loses important business rates caseFirst case heard under new procedures by President of the Valuation Tribunal and President highly critical of Valuation Officer’s actions

The recent hearing of the case between West London Aero Club (represented by commercial property consultants Vail Williams) and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has resulted in a landmark Valuation Tribunal decision, confirming the application of a general legal principle to business rates.

This is the first case heard under a new procedure entitling the President of the Valuation Tribunal for England to call the case in for his own decision. The decision heavily criticised the Valuation Officer’s conduct.

In 2009, the VOA increased the rateable value of White Waltham Airfield, near Maidenhead, Berkshire – despite the rateable having been confirmed by an earlier tribunal decision in 2008.  Advising West London Aero Club, Vail Williams appealed the increased rating assessment and argued that the 2008 decision must stand for the full duration of the Rating List and the valuation could only be adjusted for the subsequent physical changes in 2009.

The circumstances of this case held such significance it was called in for consideration by the President of the Valuation Tribunal for England, Professor Graham Zellick QC, who asked both sides for legal arguments over the Valuation Officer’s power to override the previous Valuation Tribunal decision.

At the Valuation Tribunal hearing, counsel, Cain Ormondroyd, instructed by Vail Williams, defended West London Aero Club on the general legal principle that a litigated decision is binding – in this case the 2008 decision (effective from 2005), unless appealed by the VOA.

In his judgment, Valuation Tribunal President, Professor Graham Zellick QC, took the opportunity to heavily criticise the Valuation Officer’s case as a “clear-cut an example of abuse as it is possible to imagine”.

He added: “Indeed, to countenance the Valuation Officer’s argument would be subversive of the rule of law, an affront to justice, repugnant to the statutory framework, and evince contempt for the Tribunal by the losing party in the proceedings. It has only to be stated in that form for its crudeness to be exposed.”

Vail Williams’ spokesperson Richard Jones said: “This is an excellent outcome for West London Aero Club. The intervention by the President confirms how important he believed this case to be and how unfairly the ratepayer had been treated. It’s a landmark decision and establishes a fundamental principle that once a Valuation Tribunal decision has been given (and not appealed) the Valuation Officer cannot amend the rateable value. The outcome will be of great significance for other cases. It is clearly unjust that our client has no recourse to recover costs from the VOA for any of the hearings.”

Posted by The Editor (wantspacegotspace) on 16th June 2013 (updated 24/06/2013)

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