The decision of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in Giraffe Concepts Ltd v Jackson (VO) (2018) UKUT 0344 (LC) marks a clear change in the way in which the Upper Tribunal expects to see rating appeals conducted.
In May 2018 the ratepayer in this case lodged appeal to the Upper Tribunal against a decision of the Valuation Tribunal for England in respect of a restaurant property at King’s Cross Station, but did not file a statement of case with the appeal; instead requesting an extension of time of 60 days for filing its statement of case. At the end of that period, in July 2018, the Appellant requested a second extension of time to file statement of case, this time of three months. This second extension was granted although, in its decision, the Upper Tribunal suggests it should not have been.
Towards the end of this second extension, in September 2018, the Appellant requested a further extension because had reached a provisional agreement to settle the appeal but the Valuation Officer required approval before a consent order could be submitted. This request resulted in the Upper Tribunal listing the application for a hearing, at seven days’ notice, and requiring the Appellant to show why the appeal should not be struck out. By the time of that hearing the parties had agreed directions for the conduct of the appeal, which allowed a further six weeks for the Appellant to file statement of case.
The Appellant did not produce statement of case either at, or before, the hearing of its application for a further extension of time. The Upper Tribunal considered that the appeal was a straightforward valuation matter and there was no reason why the statement of case should not have been filed with the original notice of appeal. It considered that the failure to file statement of case represented a serious breach of the Tribunal’s rules and directions and, in the absence of a proper explanation for that breach, the appeal should be struck out.
Those conducting appeals of this type may regard the decision as a draconian response to a delay in submitting a statement of case to support an appeal, but the Upper Tribunal had signalled its intentions in this respect in its judgment in Hammerson UK Properties PLC v Gowlett (VO) (2017) UKUT 0469 (LC) issued last year, and what has come out of this latest judgment is no more than a (rather severe) application of the principles set out in that earlier case. It is clear that, having fired its warning shot in Hammerson last year, the Upper Tribunal is now operating on a “shoot to kill” basis in this respect. Practitioners will need to file statements of case with notice of appeal, or very shortly thereafter, or have very good reasons for not doing so, if they wish to avoid risk of their appeals being struck out.