The specialist Empty Rates Team at Altus Group highlights the VOA’s failure to take account of the Supreme Court judgement in Monk v Newbigin
Six weeks after Monk v Newbigin was decided by the Supreme Court on 1 March, the Valuation Office Agency continues to resist settlement of appeals against properties subject to similar redevelopment work, where rates assessments should have been deleted or reduced to £1.
The Valuation Office says that it is currently taking advice on the correct application of the Supreme Court decision and the circumstances under which a nominal assessment would be appropriate. In the meantime, there are instances of the VOA calling for these appeals to be dismissed.
Altus alone has hundreds of appeals waiting for the decision in Newbigin v Monk and estimates that the total could run to thousands of challenges out of the 250,000 appeals in the system.
Following the Supreme Court judgement, Altus called on the VOA to move swiftly to update their rating manual and empower their valuation officers to settle the hundreds of rating appeals which had been held up for many years in anticipation of the ruling. Altus noted that two years since the Supreme Court ruled in the Mazars case a great many ratepayers had yet to see their rating assessments corrected.
National head of the specialist empty rates team at Altus Group, Robert Hayton, comments, “This is improper. The highest court in the land has ruled. The VOA as an organisation might not have published guidance to its staff, but valuation officers who have cases and are writing expert reports to tribunals or courts cannot say that they have no opinion. They certainly should be not be calling for a dismissal.”
“We will push for every case such as this to be heard. The alternative is an indefinite wait for the VOA and their officers to decide that they can now start to agree cases. It should not be necessary and it needlessly increases the costs for ratepayers who are funding rate liabilities on buildings.”
“We note that the VOA appears able to establish its position more quickly and comprehensively when an appeal court’s decision, such as the Court of Appeal’s in Newbigin v Monk, is in its favour.”