Empty rates mitigation schemes represented “misuse of legal process”

The Supreme Court has found that empty rates mitigation schemes using special purpose vehicles involved a misuse of the legal process which, on the facts of these cases, entitled the billing authorities to claim empty rates from the building owners, rather than from the special purpose vehicle companies. This judgment is another in a now long line of cases regarding empty rates mitigation schemes and will be of significant concern to those seeking to mitigate empty rate liabilities in this way. ...Read More

Empty rates mitigation scheme was legal and effective

The High Court has found that an empty rates mitigation scheme involving intermittent occupation of a building complex that was otherwise vacant was an effective and legal strategy to reduce empty rate liabilities. The decision is the latest in a long line of cases disputing empty rates mitigation schemes, and will be greeted with some relief by owners of empty properties. The judgment also sets out helpful guidance on “occupation” for rating purposes, and a protocol for resolving disputes about rateable occupation. ...Read More

Rating appeal struck out as invalidly made

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has struck out an appeal made by a ratepayer against the rating assessment of its property, on the basis that the appeal was made on the same grounds as a previous appeal that had already been determined by the Valuation Tribunal for England, and was therefore invalid. Ratepayers seeking to appeal against the assessment of a property need to be aware of the “one bite of the cherry” rule. ...Read More

Rates mitigation scheme ineffective because of “sham” leases

The High Court has determined that leases put in place for an empty rates mitigation scheme were “sham” transactions and, as a consequence, the rates mitigation scheme was ineffective and the owner of the building was liable for empty rates. The Court dismissed an appeal by the ratepayer against a ruling by the Magistrates’ Court in Leeds that the transactions were shams. This is the latest in a now lengthy series of legal challenges to rates mitigation schemes. ...Read More

COVID-19 “material change” business rates appeals to be quashed

The Government has announced that it will introduce legislation to “rule out” business rates appeals made seeking reductions in assessment because of any “material change of circumstances” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, an additional £1.5 billion of support will be made available to businesses affected by the pandemic that have not, so far, been eligible for business rates relief. The additional relief will be made available through local authorities, on application by affected ratepayers. Applications will commence only once the legislation to suppress appeals is in place. ...Read More

Budget 2021 – limited extension of business rates reliefs

In his 2021 Budget, the Chancellor has announced a limited extension to business rates holiday that has been in place since 1 April 2020. Qualifying retail, hospitality and leisure, properties will continue to receive 100% rates relief for the period April to June 2021. From June 2021, relief will continue at 66% for the rest of the 2021-22 rate year, but will be capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties. ...Read More

Review of Business Rates is delayed

The publication of the Government’s final report on the fundamental review of business rates has now been delayed until Autumn 2021. The review was announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget of 2020 and was originally due to publish a final report in time for the 2020 Autumn Statement. When that Autumn Statement was scrapped because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, publication of the final report of this review was postponed until Spring 2021. It has now been postponed further to Autumn 2021 ”when there is more economic certainty”. ...Read More

Freeze in Uniform Business Rate multipliers for 2021/22 confirmed

The Local Government Finance Act 1988 (Non-Domestic Rating Multipliers) (England) Order 2021 confirms that the Uniform Business Rate multiplier for 2021/20 in England will be frozen at it current level of 49.9 pence. The Order confirms an announcement made as part of the Autumn Statement last year, but will offer little real assistance to ratepayers struggling under the burden of the current lockdown in England ...Read More

Rating assessment not deleted as works had not commenced

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has dismissed an appeal made by a ratepayer seeking deletion of the rating assessment of a property that was to be redeveloped because, at the relevant date, the works to alter and redevelop the property had not commenced and it was still capable of beneficial occupation. The Upper Tribunal’s decision reminds ratepayers and others that it is works that render a property incapable of beneficial occupation, rather than an intention to redevelop, that dictate when a property should be deleted from the rating list. ...Read More

Valuation Tribunal cannot quash a Completion Notice

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has allowed an appeal against a decision of the Valuation Tribunal for England that quashed a Completion Notice issued by the London Borough of Newham in respect of a new building in East London. The Upper Tribunal also determined a completion date for the new property. The decision is of particular interest at present as new buildings may be completed, but remain unoccupied because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. ...Read More