Council Tax Manual

Section 3: England - proposals and appeals

The Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) technical manual for assessing domestic property for Council Tax.

Part 1: receipt of proposals - England

1.0 Legislation

Legislation for the application of Appeals Direct in England can be found in Statutory Instrument 2009 No 2269 The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax & Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 and Statutory Instruments 2009 No 2270 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009.

1.1 Who may make a valid proposal?

An interested person who may be

  • The taxpayer

  • The occupier

  • The owner (if neither the taxpayer or occupier) but only if they have a material interest in the dwelling AND at least part of the property is not subject to an inferior interest ie has not been let out and part is retained available for occupation. (See definition of owner in LGFA 1992 S.6(5)).

If a proposal is not received by one of the above or an agent who has authority to act on their behalf, it will be invalid –see Section 3 Part 2 CTM (England) on invalidity.

1.2 Appeals direct

The Council Tax (Valuations, Alterations of Lists & Appeals) (England) Regulations 2008 apply from the 1st April 2008. This has introduced changes in the way the VOA deals with proposals and appeals. A Council Tax Appeals Direct Resource Kit provides comprehensive guidance and the letters relevant to the procedure.

The leaflets “What to do if you disagree with your banding‘’ and ‘’Understanding your Council tax banding – the current rules for Council Tax in England‘’ provide general information about enquiries, proposals and appeals and are available to the public.

1.3 Proposal form

Although no statutory form has been prescribed, a standard proposal form has been produced by the VOA. This also serves as a computer input document. For the definitions of “proposal” and “appeal” see below.

It is preferable that taxpayers (or their agents), Interested Persons (IPs) and Billing Authorities (BAs) use the VOA’s form VO7455 (Appendix 3.1) whenever they wish to make a Council Tax proposal. This form includes a detachable sheet, Part D ‘Dwelling Details’, which contains questions relating to the attributes of the dwelling. Completion of these details is not compulsory and this sheet does not form part of the proposal for legal purposes. A set of guidance notes (VO7455GN) has also been produced and must be made available to taxpayers, their agents and other IPs. The guidance notes are pre-printed and ordered from an external supplier.

The Council Tax Internet Valuation List (IVL) application, which is accessed through the Directgov website, or via a link on the VOA web page, has an option to complete a proposal form electronically and to send this to the VOA by email. This form is a slightly different design from VO7455, but must be accepted as a proposal. At present this does not include an equivalent of Part D of VO7455.

Taxpayers may be provided, free of charge, with a quantity of forms corresponding to the number of dwellings occupied or owned by them. The LO should supply an additional form(s) to any intending maker, for his/her own retention, on request. Where the taxpayer has completed a Dwelling Details Questionnaire (VO7497 – Appendix 1.9) recently, Part D should be detached before the form is issued.

Some organisations and firms of surveyors have devised their own forms. Although they may differ in certain ways from the VOA version, they should be accepted, provided all the statutorily required information is supplied.

A reasonable quantity of forms may be supplied free of charge to taxpayers’ associations and similar local organisations for use by their own members. Before supplying them, the LO should arrange to discuss with the chairman or other official of the organisation the grievance(s) giving rise to the request and explain the basis of Council Tax. Such a discussion may prevent the making of misconceived or frivolous proposals. If the organisation decides that its members still wish to make proposals, the LO should supply the necessary number of forms.

Firms such as surveyors, estate agents and solicitors, may be supplied on request with no more than 50 blank forms at any one time free of charge. Where a firm indicates that it is acting for a particular group of taxpayers, or for the taxpayer(s) of a number of dwellings, it may be supplied free of charge with the number of forms corresponding to the number of dwellings involved. A similar number of forms for retention by the firm as their own copies may be supplied if requested.

Before a form is issued, the address of the Listing Officer should be inserted in the box in the top centre of the form to assist in its correct return.

BAs should be asked to issue single forms only to individual taxpayers and to forward any requests for bulk supplies to the LO.

1.4 Proposals in the form of letters

A letter may be accepted as a proposal if it fulfils all the statutory requirements. Any letter so identified should be processed as a proposal and attached to a blank VO7455. Guidance on what constitutes a proposal is given in Appendix 3.2.

Information to be Included

In deciding whether or not to accept a form or a letter as a proposal, it is important to distinguish between information that is statutorily required, and other information.

For example, VO7455 asks for the reference number shown in the Council Tax List. This is not a statutory requirement but merely helps to identify the dwelling to which the proposal relates. The omission of this does not disqualify a form or letter from being accepted as a valid proposal provided that the dwelling to which it relates can be identified from the address. As stated in paragraph 1.1 above, completion of Part D of VO7455 is not a statutory requirement, and failure to complete it does not make a proposal invalid.

If a proposal contains all the information statutorily required and is served within any appropriate statutory time limit, it should be treated as validly made and accepted as valid.

The basic requirements for a valid proposal are set out in Appendix 3.3.

If a letter purports to be a proposal but does not meet all the basic requirements of validity set out in Appendix 3.3, it should be treated as invalid and the invalidity procedures followed.

1.5 Petitions

A document in the form of a petition should be examined carefully to decide whether it contains all the necessary information to constitute a proposal. Although it is considered unlikely that a petition, signed by a number of signatories, will constitute valid proposals, such a document must not be ignored. If it is the clear intention to seek an alteration to the List, it will almost invariably be necessary to write to each of the signatories individually, enclosing a proposal form, with a request for it to be completed and returned to the LO within any statutory time limit. If a taxpayer is unable to make a proposal that can be accepted as valid, it may still be possible to raise a CR15 to review the band.

Letter VO 7714 should be sent to acknowledge a telephone enquiry that results in a CR15 case being raised and similarly VO 7715 acknowledges an e-mail or letter enquiry for the same purpose. Should an enquiry be received that cannot initially be treated as a proposal, but proposal rights exist, a CR18 case can be raised and the enquiry acknowledged with VO 7716. Further information on enquiries and band reviews, including decision letters for CR15’s and CR18’s can be found on the CT & HA homepage.

1.6 Rights of Billing Authorities and interested persons to make proposals

Regulation 4 of SI 2009/2270 (England) sets out the circumstances and time limits within which BAs, IPs and new taxpayers can make proposals to alter the valuation list. Appendix 3.4 sets this out in schedule format.

BAs in common with other IP’s and new taxpayers have the right in certain circumstances to make proposals for dwellings they own or occupy. In addition they have the right in respect of any dwelling in their area to make proposals whenever an IP would have the right except when that right is limited to a new taxpayer.

New taxpayers can only make a valid proposal within six months of becoming the taxpayer of the dwelling. Where a taxpayer has never paid tax before in relation to the dwelling, the date becoming actually liable for payment will trigger the beginning of the six month period. In rare occasions a relevant distinction may be made between date of ownership and date of tax payment where an exemption has applied and tax does not become due immediately on ownership. The distinction between general liability as set out in LGFA 1992 S.6 and a duty to pay tax on a chargeable dwelling being triggered by a demand from the billing authority was made in a High Court liability decision in Regentford and Thanet DC 2004. It follows that where an exemption has been made under the Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order 1992, the commencement of paying tax will be the relevant date for becoming a taxpayer. Clearly this would only happen once for a taxpayer on any dwelling.

A valid proposal cannot be made by a new taxpayer if one or more of the following applies:-

i) a proposal in relation to the same dwelling and arising from the same facts has already been considered by a VTE or the High Court (HC);

ii) the new taxpayer is a company which is a subsidiary of an immediately preceding company or the immediately preceding taxpayer is a company which is a subsidiary of the new taxpayer company, the new taxpayer and the immediately preceding taxpayer are companies which are subsidiaries of the same parent company;

iii) where the change of occupation occurs solely by reason of the formation of a new partnership in relation to which any of the partners was a partner in the previous partnership.

1.7 Former contractors

Reference is made in Section 1, part 2, to outside contractors who assisted with the initial banding exercise.

Their contract stated:-

“The Contractor undertakes that neither he nor his servants or employees will represent any taxpayer on any appeal, arbitration or other proceedings whenever, arising from any valuation banding(s) conducted by him in the Contract Area(s) shown in the Acceptance Schedule of The Contract.”

If a proposal is received which is valid in all other respects but appears to breach this undertaking, it should be registered, but the matter should be notified to the Council Tax Policy, Process and Assurance Team for further guidance.

Any instances which come to the attention of LO staff of former contractors advising taxpayers within their former Contract Area(s) without formally making proposals should be similarly referred to the Council Tax Policy, Process and Assurance Team.

1.8 Re-incarnated appeals (Appeals arising following withdrawals)

Under the VTE (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 a party which has withdrawn its appeal may apply to the VTE for the appeal to be reinstated. Such an application under paragraph (3) must be made in writing and be received by the VTE within one month after either the date on which the VTE received the notice or the date of the hearing at which the appeal was withdrawn orally at a VTE hearing.

1.9 Multiple-dwelling proposals

A proposal form may deal with more than one dwelling where:-

i) the proposal seeks to delete entries (including where the appellant considers the dwelling should not have been disaggregated);

ii) the proposer does so in the same capacity for each dwelling, providing the dwellings are within the same building or curtilage.

Separate cases must be registered within the Council Tax application where a form deals with more than one dwelling (except where the proposal seeks a reconstitution of existing dwellings).

1.10 Listing Officers not to alter proposals: alterations not permitted

Proposal forms Parts A – C, including documents purporting to be proposals, are documents with a legal status. They cannot, in any circumstances, be amended or altered by the LO, or any other member of staff, except in the column marked “For official use only”.

1.11 Service of proposals on Listing Officers by post

A completed proposal must be served on the LO for the BA area in which the subject dwelling is situated. If a dwelling straddles BA boundaries, the proposal must be served on the LO who holds the Council Tax list in which the dwelling is entered.

1.12 Electronic service of proposals

All proposals sent by electronic means are automatically submitted directly from the IVL application to the CT Unit for the BA in which the dwelling is situated. Specific email addresses exist in each Unit and these are used for the service of Council Tax proposals.

Proposals sent by email must be treated as received on the actual day the message is received, regardless of the time of day. For example, a proposal received electronically on 9 June at 23.59 is deemed to have been received on 9 June; one received electronically on 10 June at 00:01 is deemed to have been received on 10 June. A proposal received during a weekend or on a Bank Holiday should be treated as received on the next working day. On the rare occasion when this occurs, the retained email message should be endorsed accordingly.

At present there is no facility to transfer details electronically from the internet into the Council Tax Application. Proposals received electronically need to be printed out and then treated as those received in hardcopy. If Council Tax processing for the subject dwelling is carried out at another site within the Unit, the hardcopy should be forwarded as described below.

The electronic proposal should be saved in EDRM in accordance with the guidance given via the link on the EDRM Homepage.

The electronic proposal and any attachments must be saved in the folder on the Unit drive called “CT Proposals”.

Saving electronically is an audit requirement and is also necessary operationally should there be a dispute at a later date

1.13 Proposal forms sent to wrong locations

If the subject dwelling is dealt with at another location within the CT Unit, it should be forwarded to the correct processing location by internal mail. The date of receipt should be treated as that when the form is received at any location within the Unit.

If the subject dwelling is not in the LO’s Unit, it should be returned to the maker with a covering letter explaining that the proposal has not been properly served, and giving the title and address of the LO to whom it should be sent.

Rarely, the subject dwelling will have been transferred between Units as a result of Agency Restructuring or a Local Government Boundary Change. So as not to disadvantage the taxpayer who has served a proposal on whom they believed to be the correct LO, the proposal form should be date-stamped on receipt. The LO receiving the form will, in effect, be acting as agent for the correct LO but should not carry out any test to determine its validity. The form should be forwarded to the correct LO by internal mail. At the same time, the proposer should be informed in writing of the action taken. The title, address and telephone number of the site to which the proposal has been sent should be quoted so that the taxpayer can make any future enquiries to the correct LO.

1.14 Initial procedures

On receipt of a completed form, (including printed electronic version or a letter which has been accepted as a valid proposal), the following procedures should be followed:-

i) date stamp the form in the space to the right of the LO’s address box. Any further markings by the LO must be restricted to the “Official use only” box;

ii) check that the dwelling referred to is within the LO’s Unit and dealt with at that location;

iii) check that the form has been fully and correctly completed;

iv) check that the proposal has been validly made (see Appendix 3.3)

1.15 Proposals received “out of time”

The Regulations stipulate the time limits for the service of proposals and various notices. Where it appears that a proposal or a notice has been received outside the prescribed statutory time limit, the LO should first check the facts of the case. It should be noted that for a proposal as a ‘new taxpayer’ to be accepted as within time to be valid (i.e. 6 months from becoming the taxpayer), the clock starts ticking from the date they first became liable (solely, jointly etc.) to pay council tax in respect of that dwelling, which may be later than the date they acquired an interest in the property. Occasionally the two dates may not tally. Where this becomes a particular issue advice should be sought from the Head of CT Technical.

When considering whether the maker of a proposal or notice intended to comply with a statutory time limit for service by post, the rules laid down in Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 together with the guidance provided in the Practice Direction dated 8 March 1985 and issued by the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court on service in the ordinary course of post (reproduced as Appendix 3.5) should be applied. LOs should have regard to:

i) the postmark shown on the envelope

ii) the class of post used

iii) the date on which the document was actually received at any site within the Unit

Where a proposal or notice was posted in sufficient time for it to have been delivered “in the ordinary course of post” within four working days (second class) or two working days (first class), the document should be treated as validly made as regards the time limit. A proposal may, however, still be considered invalid for some other reason.

Where it is evident that there was a postal delay in the delivery of the document which was outside the control of the LO and/or the taxpayer or, following investigation, the LO is satisfied as to the bona fide intentions of the maker of the proposal or notice to comply with the particular time limit requirements, the LO should exercise discretion in favour of the maker and treat the proposal as valid.

In other cases, consideration should be given to treating the proposal as invalidly made.

1.16 Completion of “official use only” box

When all checks regarding validity have been carried out, the “Official use only” box of VO7455 must be completed. Additional items of information to be inserted are:

i) whether the form is to be treated as a valid proposal or an invalid proposal (tick boxes)

ii) the relevant reason code

iii) the party status (OCC, etc)

iv) the initials of the person carrying out the above

This box is completed with the computer-generated case number following the case registration process as either an invalid proposal (Section 3 part 2) or a valid proposal (Section 3 part 3).

Where a taxpayer’s has used his / her own form, or one printed out following an electronic submission, these items of information should be recorded on a sheet of paper and stapled to the original document.

1.17 Status of proposals as public documents

Section 29 of LGFA1992 states that a proposal is a public document. Hence if requests are made to view proposals that have previously been made, this should be complied with within the terms of the legislation that states:-

(1) A person may, at a reasonable time and without making payment, inspect any proposal made or notice of appeal given under regulations made under section 24 above, if made or given as regards a list which is in force when inspection is sought or has been in force at any time in the preceding five years.

(2) A person may—

(a) make copies of (or of extracts from) a document mentioned in subsection (1) above; or

(b) require a person having custody of such a document to supply to him a photographic copy of (or of extracts from) the document.

(3) If a reasonable charge is required for a facility under subsection (2) above, that subsection shall not apply unless the person seeking to avail himself of the facility pays the charge.

(4) If without reasonable excuse a person having custody of a document mentioned in subsection (1) above—

(a) intentionally obstructs a person in exercising a right under subsection (1) or (2)(a) above; or

(b) refuses to supply a copy to a person entitled to it under subsection (2)(b) above, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.

Part 2: invalid proposals and invalidity appeals - England

VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates

Legislation for the application of Appeals Direct in England can be found in

Statutory Instrument 2009 No 2269 The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax & Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009 No 2269)

and

Statutory Instruments 2009 No 2270 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009 No 2270).

2.1 Introduction

A decision on whether or not to serve a Notice of Invalidity must be made by the LO within 28 days of the receipt of the proposal form or of the letter purporting to be a proposal. Specific guidance is given in Section 3 part 1 and Appendices 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4.

A proposal should be considered as invalid where:-

i) it is served on the LO after any statutory time limit has expired; or

ii) it is made by a person who is not entitled to make a proposal; or

iii) it does not contain all the information statutorily required; or

iv) it is not made in any of the circumstances outlined in Reg 4 of the 2009 Regulations (2009 No. 2270) for England.

If the proposal is valid, except that a certain item of information is missing, it should not be treated as invalid but should be returned to the appellant with a request to complete the form. If it is returned completed, it should be registered as a valid proposal and dealt with in accordance with Part 3 if it then passes all other tests for validity.

All invalid proposals need to have had a code of grounds allocated to them, and added in manuscript to the appeal form in accordance with Section 3 part 1.16.

It should be noted, in the context of time limits, that for a proposal as a ‘new taxpayer’ to be accepted as within time to be valid (i.e. 6 months from becoming the taxpayer), the clock starts ticking from the date they first became liable (solely, jointly etc.) to pay council tax in respect of that dwelling, which may be later than the date they acquired an interest in the property. Occasionally the two dates may not tally. Where this becomes a particular issue advice should be sought from the Head of CT Technical.

2.1.1 Following the VTE decision in Alexander VO v Imperial Tobacco, certain principles were accepted concerning determining invalidity, and all advice in this section is subject to these principles. In summary, defects in proposals will come within four categories and this will determine LO action as follows:

1. Minor clerical error - does not require invalidity notice.

2. Significant omission - may or may not require notice depending on what is omitted.

3. Misleading information – in all cases where deliberate will require invalidity notice.

4. Fundamental error - does require invalidity notice, or can be raised at later date.

Only in category 1 will an invalidity notice never be served. Only in category 4 will a notice always be served. In categories 2 and 3, the deciding factor is, will the omission of poor information prejudice the LO’s case to arrive at a correct band?

In categories 2 and 3 the LO does not have the right to raise invalidity at a later date, where a notice could have been served within 28 days, using information available, but wasn’t.

Only in category 4 can a LO raise invalidity outside the time limit, or even at an appeal hearing, when it becomes apparent that a fundamental problem exists with the proposal, that could not have been determined earlier.

Examples of categories

Minor clerical errors: spelling errors, wrong post code, not signed but where name given

Significant omission: Where information statutorily required is omitted. In this case the onus is on the LO to make a judgement on receipt as to whether the omission will be detrimental or prejudicial to the LOs case or ability to maintain a correct list. An invalidity notice will not be required when

The date of the LON is missing and the date is known and within time limit.

The date of becoming new taxpayer is missing but LO knows from a transaction that proposal would be valid

Misleading or incorrect information: A judgement must be made on a similar basis to 2. above. Most usually misleading or incorrect information will be prejudicial to LO properly carrying out his/her duty. Deliberate attempts to mislead will invariably be treated as invalid. A proposal that claims a property has been subject to a physically changed locality, that is judged not to be so, will come under this category.

Fundamental errors:

Taxpayer not occupier of dwelling with no proposal rights.

Property mis-identified on proposal.

2.1.2 The following table gives examples of 2, 3, and 4 above with appropriate action

Significant Omission May or may not require notice depending on what is omitted. Cannot raise at later date. Where essential information is missing, return to taxpayer with Invalidity Notice, but draw attention to defect and give opportunity to amend and re-serve as a valid proposal. Misleading Information In all cases where deliberate and significant, will require invalidity notice. Cannot raise at later date. Fundamental Error Does require invalidity notice, or can be raised at later date.
A new taxpayer makes a proposal but doesn't write the date on which they became the taxpayer. If we know the date (we have a record of the transaction). We can make this valid if it is within the time limit. Deliberate attempts to mislead will invariably be treated as invalid. When a knowable error is not spotted and we do not serve an Invalidity Notice, we cannot raise invalidity again at a later date, or at the hearing. Examples might include: Change to the property as cited hasn't happened Physical Change to the locality that hasn't happened. Lacks the name and address of the proposer, and the capacity in which the proposer makes the proposal. We must make sure that the proposer has a legal right to make the proposal.
A taxpayer makes a proposal against a notice but doesn't write the date of the notice; We will know the day - (look it up on the CDB). We can make this valid if it is within the time limit. Does not correctly identify a relevant decision of the VTE or the High Court relates. Fails to establish an essential link between relevant decision and their own property, but provides spurious reasons. The proposer does not need to provide the date of that decision; we can find that ourselves. Does not identify the dwelling to which it relates; this need to be clearly identified. Make a reasonable attempt to match with the correct CDB entry before serving an invalidity notice. This may include returning the proposal for clarification or telephoning the taxpayer for more information.
If the balance of a composite has been changed and a proposal has been made without a date of the change being included. LO cannot alter list correctly without a date; Invalid return to taxpayer for completion. If the date is known to LO consider serving LON to correct list.    
Proposal in letter form where it is clear what the taxpayer is seeking, though not all the information is present or in the statutory form; Accept as proposal where intention is clear, and substantially conforms.    
A statement of the reasons for believing the list to be Inaccurate; If it is clear from the context of the rest of the proposal then we can accept as valid.    
Not telling us the date/description of the material increase or reduction. The date date/description will usually be key to us dealing with the case; Invalid - Return to Taxpayer for completion.    
If the proposal disputes the day from which an alteration should have effect, a statement of the day proposed in its place. Invalid - Return to taxpayer for completion.    
Does not identify the respects in which it is proposed the list be altered; Invalid - Return to taxpayer for completion. A statement or clear inference a band reduction is required, but a specific band not essential.    

For more detail please see Appendix 3.3 in this section - Basic requirements for a valid proposal.

2.2 Recognising invalid proposals at point of receipt

2.2.1 Who may make a valid proposal?

An interested person who may be

  • The taxpayer

  • The occupier

  • The owner (if neither the taxpayer or occupier) providing he has a material interest in the dwelling AND at least part of the property is not subject to an inferior interest ie has not been let out and part is retained available for occupation. (See definition of owner in LGFA 1992 S.6(5)).

If a proposal is not received by one of the above or an agent who has authority to act on their behalf, it will be invalid.

2.2.2. Proposals not subject to time limits

  • Proposals on grounds of material reduction (see 2.23)

  • Proposals requesting a new dwelling or deletion of a dwelling

  • Proposals for a change in balance of domestic value in a composite dwelling, or becoming or ceasing to become composite

2.2.3 Proposals made on ‘material reduction’ grounds

There are three types of change that might lead to a ‘material reduction’:

(i) demolition in whole or part

(ii) any change in the physical state of the dwelling’s locality

(iii) works of adaptation for disabled person

In cases (1) and (iii) it is usually clear from the proposal whether demolition has taken place or whether there has been adaptation for a disabled person, but a validity decision in a change in the physical state of the dwelling’s locality case can be difficult to make at the point of receipt.

The proposer has to be of the opinion that a material reduction has arisen. The actuality cannot be judged at point of receipt. However, where the grounds on the face of it do not satisfy the wording of the legislation the proposal should be declared invalid.

2.2.4 Explanation of ‘physical state of a dwellings locality’

The phrase ‘physical state of the dwelling’s locality’ should be taken to imply something fixed and permanent, not something which is transient (i.e. subject to daily or weekly change). Increases in traffic and associated nuisance are not valid grounds, unless the local cause is rooted in some physical change to the fabric of the locality.

The Court of Appeal in Chilton-Merryweather v Hunt & others 2008 confirmed existing VOA understanding of the law. The appeal related to material reduction and the meaning of the words ‘physical state’ in relation to four validity appeals concerning traffic increase on the M61 and associated nuisance.

There are two elements to consider:

  • Has there been a ‘change in the physical state’?

  • Is it within ‘the dwelling’s locality’?

change in the physical state…

In essence ‘a change in the physical state’ means a change in the physical landscape, buildings or infrastructure, and could include, for example, new telephone masts or pylons, new or widened roads, and new or extended buildings. An intensification of an exiting use (e.g. an increase in the volume of traffic) does not constitute a ‘change in the physical state’, but permanent alterations to a road layout would constitute such a change.

the dwelling’s locality…

What constitutes the dwelling’s locality will be a matter of fact and degree. In general, the smaller the ‘change in the physical state’, the smaller the locality within which it might have a value impact. An extension to 5 Acacia Avenue is a ‘change in the physical state’ and is clearly in the ‘locality’ of 3 Acacia Avenue, but is not likely to be in the ‘locality’ of 123 Acacia Avenue. A new sewage works close to Acacia Avenue is also a ‘change in the physical state’ and would most likely be perceived as being in the locality of all of Acacia Avenue (and beyond).

The general principles to be adopted are that a proposal may be accepted as valid where any ‘change in the physical state’ has occurred, and has been identified on the proposal, which could reasonably be said to be in ‘the dwelling’s locality’. The proposer only has to be of the opinion that the valuation list is inaccurate and the change has caused a material reduction in the value of the subject dwelling such that a lower banding is warranted. Whether we agree with this opinion is a matter for valuation, and does not affect validity of the proposal.

In accordance with Reg 5 (1) (d) (ii) of SI 2009 No 2270, the proposer must include a statement of the reasons they believe that a ‘material reduction’ has occurred. Where this involves a ‘change in the physical state’, that change must be identified. If that change is within the ‘dwelling’s locality’ then the proposal is valid. Whether the change is band significant cannot often be determined at the point of receipt, but the fact that you don’t think it has much affect at all on value is not a reason for challenging the proposal as invalid.

Examples of a change in the physical state of a dwelling’s locality

There will be many possibilities, but the following examples may help:-

  • The moving of a lamp post a few feet – invalid. This would not considered to be a change to physical state as there was a lamp post in the locality before.

  • The completion of a new road layout close to the boundary of the property – valid

  • The completion of a new road layout a mile from the property, which is said to cause extra traffic – invalid. (The new road layout is a ‘change in the physical state’ but would not reasonably be considered to be ‘in the dwelling’s locality’.

  • Increase in noise and pollution since AVD due to general traffic increase – invalid

  • The completion of a Nuclear Power Station, say a half a mile (or more) from the property – valid. (It would be difficult to argue that a change of that scale would not be considered to affect values in quite a wide locality. The issue will then be whether the affect is such that a lower band is warranted.)

  • The discovery of contamination, which pre-existed the dwelling, and was present at AVD - invalid, no physical change to state of dwelling’s locality.

If at the point of receipt, it is not be possible to determine whether or not the change is in the dwelling’s locality or not, the proposal should be treated as valid and challenged later when the contrary facts are known.

The examples above are illustrative only. The concept of ‘locality’ cannot be interpreted as a purely geographical distance. The size and scale of a physical change will influence how wide the ‘locality’ is and its effect on value. A small change may be value significant in a small locality, whereas a major change could well have impact over a greater distance.

Any change in the physical state of the locality has to be considered in terms of the economic and market conditions at the AVD of 1 April 1991. Whether such changes will be band significant will depend on the evidence. What is perceived to have an effect on value today may not have been relevant at the AVD.

2.3 Initial registration

Every invalid proposal needs to be registered in the Council Tax application immediately following the decision on validity. Ensure that the case type (which defaults to ‘’P’’ in England) is overwritten with ’N’’ on each occasion. A working docket VO7456 should be requested on the day following registration and added to the originating proposal. Owing to the limitations of the application, it is not possible for this to be output on the same day as registration.

If Part D of VO7455 (Dwelling Details) has been completed, the opportunity should be taken to check the individual property details held against the address within Property Details, and to input/amend them as necessary.

2.4 Serving notice of invalidity

When a LO considers that a proposal is invalid, a notice must be served on the proposer under Regulation 7(1) (England) within 28 calendar days stating:-

i) why the proposal is considered to be invalid;

ii) the rights of the proposer, if he/she disagrees with the LO’s opinion.

Where the proposal is considered invalid for a reason other than being “out of time”, the proposer will have the option of submitting a further proposal on different grounds.

When a proposal is input as invalid, an Invalidity Notice will be generated automatically within the Council Tax Application (CDB). The Invalidity Notice gives a formal decision on the validity of a proposal and sets out the rights to appeal the decision to VTE.

2.5 Appeal against notice of invalidity

Following the introduction of ‘’Appeals Direct ‘’ under Statutory Instrument 2009 No 2270 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009, the proposer, should he/she decide to appeal, is required to make this appeal directly to the VTE within four weeks from the date of the LO‘s decision.

2.6 Original proposal now considered valid

Where the LO has reviewed their decision and considers that the original invalidity notice was incorrect, a fresh case for the valid proposal should be registered in accordance with Section 3, part 3. The date of the LO’s decision to treat it as valid should be input as the date of receipt. This will not affect the effective date of any alteration resulting from the appeal; this will still relate to the date the proposal was originally received. If a hardcopy register is maintained, it should be noted accordingly. Letter VO 7740 should be sent to the appellant to inform him/her that the Invalidity Notice has been withdrawn. This letter also provides the name of the caseworker. A copy should be kept with the papers and the whole cased up in accordance with Section 3 part 3. VO7740 is available from the Council Tax Appeals Direct Resource Kit

An acknowledgement letter VO7705 will be output automatically for the valid appeal. This is not required and should be destroyed; the acknowledgement is included in the VO7740. The working docket for the (now valid) appeal should be endorsed with the date of the VO7734 (letter to accompany Notice of Invalidity) as the date of acknowledgement.

Where a proposal is treated initially as invalid and the proposer successfully appeals, the VTE notifies the VOA that the proposal should now be treated as valid. A fresh valid proposal case must be raised (with a new case number) with suitable case remarks and reference to the previous ‘invalid’ case number and VT decision, with the date of the decision being input as the date received. The working docket for the (now valid) appeal should be endorsed with the date of the original VO7734 as the date of acknowledgement.

2.7 Examples of changes to validity status - IT and VTE implications

It is not possible to convert a valid proposal to an invalid proposal (or convert an invalid proposal to a valid proposal) within the current IT. Essentially the IT handles proposal cases in such a way that once the validity of the case has been set, it is not possible to change it. This has always been the case and has not changed due to the implementation of appeals direct.

The following examples set out what to do when the decision on validity is changed, and clarifies the ‘date received’ to be used.

Example 1: Invalidity change within 28 days

Proposal received and considered at first to be validly made but, within the 28 day period for issuing an invalidity notice, and prior to issuing the substantive decision notice, it is identified that the proposal should have been treated as invalid.

The current ‘valid’ proposal must be cleared using code 13 (for the decision notice reason) with appropriate text entered along the lines of:

“this proposal was registered as valid, but is now considered to have been invalidly made”

On production of the decision notice, the notice should be shredded.

A fresh case must be raised but marked as invalid (‘n’) which will provide a new case number. The ‘new’ invalid proposal should be progressed in line with existing guidance on handling invalid proposals.

The correct date of receipt should be the date on which the proposal was first received.

Example 2 : Invalidity indentified after 28 days

Proposal received and considered at first to be validly made. After 28 days from the receipt of the proposal, and prior to issuing the substantive decision notice, it is identified that the proposal should have been treated as invalid. There is no provision for late service of an invalidity notice.

The list entry should be reviewed and dealt with in the normal way (as a valid proposal) in the decision notice. Code 13 should be selected and the following statement should be included:

“Having reviewed your proposal I do not believe that it was made within one of the limited circumstances in which a proposal can be accepted as valid. As a consequence, if you appeal this decision notice to the Valuation Tribunal, I will initially ask the Tribunal to determine whether the proposal has been validly made. If the Valuation Tribunal agrees with me that your proposal been invalidly made, it will not be possible for other aspects of your case to be heard.”

No further work is needed unless the taxpayer seeks to appeal the decision to the VT. Case remarks should be recorded on the ‘valid’ proposal case to the effect that the VOA contend the proposal is invalidly made.

If the taxpayer appeals to the VTE, they must be contacted and advised:

  • why the proposal was considered to be invalidly made

  • that at the VTE hearing, the validity will need to be determined first

  • that if the VTE agree the proposal was invalid, no consideration will be given to the banding decision

At the hearing, the validity will be considered first. In the event that the VTE find it valid, under regulation 33 of the VTE 2009 procedure regs, the VTE must not proceed to consider value without agreement of all the parties. If the LO has not prepared a valuation defense case previously, the clerk should be informed of the LO’s objection to the case proceeding to valuation stage.

There is no need to raise an additional invalid case, because the validity issue will have already been determined at VT.

Example 3: ‘Invalid’ proposal now considered valid

A proposal is received which is considered to be invalid and the appropriate invalidity notice has been issued. After the issue of this invalidity notice, through discussion with the taxpayer, it is considered that the invalidity notice was incorrect, and the proposal should have been treated as validly made. No appeal has been made to the VT against the Invalidity Notice.

Advise the taxpayer that there is no need to appeal our invalidity notice to the VT because we now agree that the proposal should have been registered as valid. The invalidity decision notice should be withdrawn. The letter vo7740 (0508) should be utilised to confirm the withdrawal of the invalidity notice.

Raise a fresh valid proposal case. In case remarks reference must be made to the ‘invalid’ proposal case number and a brief note as to why validity decision changed.

The list entry is considered and the appropriate decision notice is then issued.

The correct date of receipt for the new valid proposal will be the date on which the invalidity notice was withdrawn. The decision notice to be issued on the new valid proposal, must be issued within 2 months from this date (internal target).

Example 4: Invalid proposal made valid by VTE decision

An invalidity decision notice has been issued on an invalid proposal, and this decision notice has been appealed, by the taxpayer, to the VT. The appeal is given a full hearing by the VT who subsequently determine that the proposal had been validly made.

A fresh valid proposal case must be raised (with a new case number) with suitable case remarks and reference to the previous ‘invalid’ case number and VT decision

The new valid proposal should be progressed in the same manner as existing guidance.

The correct date of receipt for the new valid proposal will be the date when the VT arrived at their decision. The decision notice to be issued on the new valid proposal, must be issued within 2 months from this date (internal target).

2.8 Activity codes

Under Appeals Direct, an Invalid Proposal no longer requires an activity code.

2.9 Invalidity hearing at Valuation Tribunal

‘VT Presentation for Invalidity Appeals’ (Appendix 3.9) has been designed to assist caseworkers prepare cases for invalidity hearings. The scenarios cover a range of invalidity possibilities, paragraphs, subject heads, and the relevant regulations are set out to cover the specific circumstances applicable to each case. Regulation 33 of the 2009 VTE procedure regs prohibits a VTE proceeding with the valuation hearing straight away without the agreement of all the parties.

2.10 Settlement by Valuation Tribunal England decision

When the VTE has issued its decision, the case should be cleared on the computer using settlement code ‘I’ or ‘J’ as appropriate.

When this decision is that the appeal is invalid, a review of the band should be carried out if this has not already taken place. If the review has already taken place, no further action need be undertaken. In both instances the papers should be kept with the LO Report.

When this decision is that the appeal is valid, a fresh case for a valid appeal should be created in accordance with Section 3 part 3, with the date of the decision being input as the date received. Letter VO7719 should be obtained from MS Word Template and issued instead of the automatically generated VO 7705; the latter should be destroyed. The working docket for the (now valid) appeal should be endorsed with the date of the original VO7734 as the date of acknowledgement.

Part 3: valid proposals - England

VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates

Legislation

Legislation covering proposals and appeals for Council Tax in England can be found in (the following are hyperlinks)

3.1 Registration of valid proposals

Once a proposal has been checked for completeness and validity, and coded in accordance with the CT Mini Workaid. It should be input onto the central database (CDB). The aim is to carry out the input within three working days of its receipt anywhere in the Agency, regardless of whether the proposal is received in hardcopy or by electronic means. The date of receipt is taken as the next working day if a proposal is received during a weekend or on an official Bank Holiday.

The proposal must be linked to the correct address. This must be an existing address, unless the proposer is seeking to insert a dwelling in the List (AD05) when the address will have to be created (unless it has already been created on the database for other purposes, such as Property Transactions) and Band “X” automatically created as the current band. Linking must be carried out with extreme care, as once a proposal has been linked to an address, it cannot be unlinked if the address or the code is subsequently found to be wrong. The only way to amend this is to clear the proposal and re-register it linked to the correct address.

Where a clerical error has occurred, the proposal should be cleared using decision type B (make no change to band) and reason code 13 (non standard decision). Full notes of any such action must be input to the Remarks field on the CDB and an explanation in hardcopy added to the case papers.

There is no default in the computer application for the date received, and this must always be typed in. It is not possible to input this as a date in the future; the date of receipt can only equal, or be before, the current (system) date.

An “agent” should be regarded as anyone who has made a proposal on behalf of a taxpayer, an interested person (IP) or a BA. This includes not only firms of Surveyors/ Estate Agents, but also individuals such as a relative or a neighbour.

Where a proposal has been made by an “agent”, the “agent” details must be input through the ‘Maintain Case Agents’ functionality before registering the proposal. It is important for monitoring purposes that agents’ details are recorded under a standard naming convention. This is provided in the current list of agents’ details, which can be accessed here Current Agent List. For any party to be accepted as an agent, an authority to act form (A2A) must be included with the proposal. For further details concerning agents and A2A forms, refer to the current information contained in the link accessed from the CT & HA homepage.

3.2 Dealing with hardcopy output

On the day following registration, working dockets should be requested from the CDB. Owing to the limitations of the application, it is not possible for these to be output on the same day as registration. An acknowledgement of the receipt of a valid proposal (VO7706) will be automatically generated when a proposal case is registered.

The document which will be output to hardcopy is the working docket (VO 7456). This document should be checked against the proposal. Any errors arising from input should be highlighted with the correction required shown in red on the working docket. These errors should then be corrected on the computer.

Where incorrect details are shown on the acknowledgement letter, the generated letter should be destroyed and, following input of the correct information, a replacement should be requested from the CDB. When the acknowledgement letter is sent, it must be accompanied by the Appeals Direct leaflet ‘’What to do if you disagree with your banding‘’.

Letters must be posted on the day on which they have been produced. This date appears on the working docket as the date acknowledged.

3.3 Procedure subsequent to the making of proposals

Regulation 8 of the Appeal Regs requires the LO to serve a copy of the proposal, within six weeks from receipt, on any person, not being the proposer, who appears to be the taxpayer, and the BA where it has served notice that it wishes to receive copies.

The former could occur, for example, when a landlord of rented property makes a proposal. The proposal copy must be accompanied by a letter VO 7713 from MS Word Template and a copy of the leaflet “What to do if you disagree with your Council Tax Banding” (VO 7587 in the CT Appeals Direct resource kit, which can be accessed from the CT & HA homepage. A copy of the letter should be kept with the case papers.

Where a BA has opted in, agreement as to the most efficient way of serving copies should be agreed with the BA concerned.

Casing-up procedures

The case papers must be placed in a plastic wallet and include:

  • Proposal

  • Working docket (VO 7456 and schedule VO7457)

  • Copy letters

  • Previous correspondence

  • Relevant questionnaires (VO7497 or 7498)

The case should then be passed to the designated caseworker.

3.5 Dealing with proposals – time limits

Reg 9 states that the LO must provide a decision notice (DN) for Council Tax proposals within four months from the date the proposal was received. In practice, the VOA is committed to the internal target of completing this process within TWO months.

Within six weeks of receipt of a proposal a copy must be served on the BA, where that BA has opted in, and on any party who appears to be the taxpayer of the dwelling, other than the proposer. Each copy of a proposal must be served with a covering statement of the effects of Appeal Regs 9-12.

Within SIX weeks from the decision notice, or date of agreement, the list must be altered where the proposal is well founded or agreement is reached.

Cases should be scrutinised on receipt to ensure they are progressed without delay. For instance, where there is an indication of financial hardship, which is made worse by the CT banding, the caseworker should respond to any request from the proposer for early discussion.

3.6.1 Appeal Reg 9 powers – well founding and agreement

The LO should investigate the band and make a decision within two months of the date of receipt of the proposal

  • Whether the proposal is well-founded – in which case the list must be altered

  • Whether the proposal is part well-founded – e.g. a reduction is warranted, but not to the band proposed

  • Whether the proposal is wholly not well-founded.

A decision notice must be served in writing on:

(a) the proposer

(b) the taxpayer of the dwelling to which the proposal relates

(c) any other competent person (who would have been able to make a proposal at the date of the decision notice).

Reg 9(b) sets out various circumstances and what the LO may do.

  • It requires the LO to alter the list where the proposal is well-founded (Reg 9(b)(i) states “the LO shall decide to alter the list accordingly”)

  • It allows the LO to reach agreement where part well-founded (e.g. where the proposal seeks a reduction, but not to the band proposed)

  • It allows the LO to reach agreement even when the whole of the proposal is not well-founded and the terms of the agreement are wholly different from the proposal. (e.g. agreement would be possible for an increase where the proposal sought a reduction, or vice versa).

  • Apart from well-founding, where the LO cannot reach agreement, or the LO decides not to adopt this course, then the LO has a discretion as to ‘whether or not to alter the list’, notwithstanding the objections of any other party to the proposal.

It will be seen from the above that the discretion of the LO is quite wide in dealing with proposals before appeal stage. LOs, therefore, may enter into discussions with the proposer, and any other identified competent party, and may alter the list according to the LO’s duty to maintain a correct list.

3.6.2 Investigation of proposals

Arriving at a decision is known as making a “considered decision”. In doing so, a review of the list entry might include checking:

(i) Inspection Support Data – a useful CDB tool which gives details of the current and last previous bands, how the current band was settled/introduced, the current property attributes and details of the last sale linked to the dwelling. This information can be obtained by location or postcode.

(ii) 1991 Sales Evidence – the two main sources of domestic sales around the AVD are MILO (a CDB application available for some locations where selected historic sales can be output) and Street Sheets (an index for historic property sales which can be accessed through EDRM).

(iii) Settlement Detail Sheets and CTVS (including previous Tribunal and High Court decisions) – now stored as part of EDRM.

(iv) Comparable Selection Tool - this application should be operated in accordance with Comparable Selection Tool - Guidance on Use

(v) Digital Mapping

(vi) Property Related Internet Sites – these include websites that contain aerial, satellite and street level photography, but also cover other public sites that hold property information. There are limitations to their use and any access must be in accordance with the Policy on VOA use of public websites

3.6.3 Content of decision notices

To assist caseworkers, examples of DN content, and pro forma letters containing supplementary information to accompany DNs, are available from the CT Appeals Direct Resource Kit

Once issues have been investigated, the DN is output from the CDB and sets out the right to appeal the decision to the Valuation Tribunal England (VTE). Drop down lists on the CDB application will allow the caseworker to detail (i) what the decision is and (ii) the broad reason for the decision.

Additional evidence, supporting the decision, should also be provided using the Supporting Information Document (VO 7410). This form can be used to attach further comparable banding evidence as well as broad sales information. As the considered decision relates to valid proposals and not appeals, legislation precludes the caseworker from providing comprehensive details of sales (e.g. full addresses by which specific dwellings can be identified).

Where an agent/representative is acting on behalf of a taxpayer, a copy of the decision notice must be provided to them.

Before a decision is reached a discussion should have taken place with the taxpayer and, if necessary, a further discussion should take place once a decision has been made. This second discussion is to explain the reason for the decision and to outline the options available should the taxpayer remain unhappy. It is essential that all the issues raised by the proposer, in the original proposal and subsequent discussions, are covered when supplying the DN.

For many formal challenge cases, once a decision notice has been issued the matter will be closed. It is for the taxpayer/proposer to decide, after receiving the formal decision, whether they want to accept the decision or appeal directly to the VTE. See Section 3 part 4.

3.7 Activity codes

Activity Codes have been developed to provide statistical data to client bodies about the progress of both valid and invalid proposals and appeals. They are also used for VOA management purposes.

The full list of activity codes currently built into the application can be obtained from accessing the CT Mini Work Aid

3.8 Visits

All proposals should be considered initially from the desk. Caseworkers should only visit with the consent of the occupier(s) and by appointment.

Where the proposal relates to features of the dwelling which require verification, or changes in the dwelling’s locality that require judgement as to effect on value, the property should be inspected and careful, dated notes taken. Any necessary photographs, taken with the permission of the proposer, must also be dated when added to CDB and a record kept of who took the photographs.

Relevant updates should be noted on the CTVS and an ELDA plan created if required. The appropriate activity code must be selected and input to the computer record immediately. Further information on the policy on making visits is provided in Section 2 part 3.

3.9 Discussions with proposers

During the discussion, the proposer should be asked to expand upon the grounds for seeking an alteration to the banding. Adequate notes should be taken, and added to the CTVS. The proposer may provide details in documentary form, e.g. sales particulars. Whenever possible, the caseworker should borrow them, photocopy relevant information and subsequently immediately return the original(s) by post.

3.10 Council Tax Valuation Sheets (CTVS)

A CTVS is the document on which a caseworker records the thought processes in relation to the available evidence and banding decision. It is produced via the Comparable Selection Tool for all required case types using the reviewed/updated property attribute data. The CTVS should record

(i) Key issues of the original enquiry and any subsequent representations made by the taxpayer.

(ii) Any necessary supplementary evidence with comments on its relevance

(iii) The valuation/banding notes (including effective date) and clear reasons explaining the decision.

(iv) Any potential consequential banding on other properties has been considered and CR15/ CR09 reports instigated where appropriate.

(v) If comparables selected by the Comparable Selection Tool are considered to be poor, or otherwise not relevant, an explanatory note must be provided.

3.11 Transmission of appeals from the VTE to the VOA

Following the introduction of Appeals Direct, it is the responsibility of the taxpayer to appeal directly to the VTE if they wish to challenge a considered decision provided in a DN. When an appeal is submitted to the VTE the details are transmitted electronically from the VTE to the VOA. The VTE log on the CDB should be accessed daily and, when an appeal has been transmitted, the relevant appeal dockets will be automatically printed. These should be attached to the original proposal papers and passed to the caseworker for action.

3.12 Consequential matters

Following the settlement of a proposal, consideration must be given to any consequential review of the bandings of other dwellings which may be necessary. Further information on consequentials can be accessed from the CT& HA homepage.

3.13 Quality checking

A sample of cleared proposals will be selected for valuation integrity checks. As part of the quality checking process, reference should be made to the current Valuation Integrity Standards. This identifies the correct processes that should be undertaken when dealing with all Council Tax casework.

3.14 Retention of papers

Documentation, including the CTVS, correspondence and the original proposal, must be scanned into the relevant case file in EDRM. A complete guide to scanning documents into EDRM, how to name, save and protectively mark them, can be found on the EDRM Homepage

Part 4: valid appeals after listing by Valuation Tribunals - England

VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates

Legislation for the application of Appeals Direct in England can be found in:

4.1 Introduction: when does an appeal arise?

After 1 April 2008, the 1993 regulations were amended to reflect the ‘Appeals Direct’ procedures, which now come under Regulation 10 of the Council Tax 2009 Appeals regulations.

An appeal to the VTE will arise when, after receipt of the Decision Notice (DN), a taxpayer who disagrees with it, appeals directly to the VTE. The appeal has to be made within three months of the date of service of the DN.

If no appeal is made following the DN, the proposal loses effect and the case is closed. There is provision, however, for a late appeal to be authorised where the VTE President is satisfied that the reason for failure to initiate an appeal was beyond the control of the proposer.

Only one appeal can be made following a DN. A second appeal by any competent person (i.e. any person who would have had the right to make a proposal at the time the DN was served) is not allowed to proceed in relation to the same DN.

An appeal is made by the proposer sending to the VTE a copy of the DN, together with a written statement, giving the reasons for appeal and other essential information (the latter being in the form of a Settlement Information Pack – SIP).

4.2 Withdrawal of appeals

An appeal may be withdrawn by service of a notice on the VTE at any time up to the date of the hearing, or verbally at the hearing (Reg 19 of Procedure regs). Where verbally withdrawn, the VTE panel must give its consent before the withdrawal becomes effective.

A party can apply to the VTE within one month of the service of a withdrawal notice, or of the hearing, to have the appeal reinstated.

Where the LO alters the list in accordance with the terms of the proposal, the appeal is treated as withdrawn on the date of service of notice on the VTE.

The VTE must notify all parties of receipt of withdrawal of an appeal in writing.

4.3 New appellant’s appeal

Reg 22 of the Procedure regs allows for a competent person to serve notice on the VTE to take over an appeal, provided this notice is served before the date specified in any VTE notification of withdrawal of the initial appeal under Reg 19(9). The VTE is required to serve notice [that the appeal has been taken over] on all other parties.

4.4 Competent person’s right to be party to an appeal

Reg 27 of the Procedure regs gives the right for any interested person, competent to have made a proposal at the appeal date, to serve notice on the VTE within three months of the appeal date, stating that they wish to be a party to the appeal.

4.5 VTE requires missing information held by LO

On receipt of a copy of an appeal statement (CT10) from the VTE, Reg 26 of the Procedure regs requires LOs to serve a written notice on the VTE, stating the name and address of any person party to an appeal, or who appears to be an interested person, affected by the DN, where that information is missing from the appeal. In turn, the VTE must serve a notice on all interested parties, including that information and the date on which the appeal was made.

4.6 General points - VTE powers and procedures

(i) Liaison with VTE: communication with LOs

Under the Appeals Direct procedure, all appeals originate from a challenge to a LO’s DN and are submitted by the taxpayer/appellant directly to the VTE. Information relating to appeals is transmitted by the VTE to the VOA via the VTE log on the CDB. Hardcopy information, including a copy of the appeal, is also supplied by the VTE.

(ii) Powers of the VTE

The VTE has judicial powers and will normally sit in public. It may take evidence on oath or affirmation, and may administer such an oath or affirmation, but does not usually do so. The parties to an appeal may appear at the VTE hearing without giving notice of their intention to appear. As a precaution, therefore, even when there has been no contact with the taxpayer, LOs should prepare a skeleton case in the event that such a case proceeds to a full hearing.

Reg 38 of the VTE Procedure regs, allows a VTE to increase a band. This is not limited either by the band shown in the List at the date of the proposal or by the band contended for in the proposal. The effective date will be the date of the VTE decision. The approach to be adopted, where an increase is found to be justified between the date of receipt of a proposal and the hearing, is given below.

A VTE has powers to hold a pre-hearing review, or a hearing, solely on the validity of a proposal. The scope of jurisdiction at a particular hearing will be limited to the substance of the appeal.

(iii) Invalidity Hearings and Valid Appeal Hearings – VTE Procedure Reg 5

Procedure Reg 5 requires that invalidity appeals under Appeal Reg 7 will be heard before substantive valuation appeals under Appeal Reg 10. Where two or more appeals are on the same property, they will be dealt with chronologically; the Reg states “the order in which the appeals are dealt with shall be the order in which the alterations in question would, but for the disagreements which occasion the appeals, have taken effect”.

The LO must be clear on the subject matter of the appeal and prepare the case accordingly.

(iv) Right to Object after a Validity Hearing

Under Procedure Reg 33, a VTE hearing may only proceed from an invalidity hearing to a valuation appeal hearing with the consent of all parties. The LO may not wish to proceed to valuation, (particularly if an appeal considered likely on a point of law). The LO is entitled to object to any proposal to continue with a valuation hearing, where the LO case either is not prepared or would be prejudiced.

4.7 Agreements

When an appeal is listed it is still possible for the LO and appellant to resolve the matter by agreement prior to a hearing. This should only arise if new evidence is introduced. Regs 12 & 13 of the Appeal regs provide for settlement by agreement. Reg 19 of the Procedure regs provides for settlements by withdrawal by the appellant directly with the VTE.

When an agreement is reached between the LO and an appellant, the VTE must be notified as soon as reasonably practicable. The agreement forms for CT appeals are available from MS Word Template in five versions numbered VO 7475 - VO 7479 to reflect the type of agreement reached.

  • VO 7475 - Amendment

  • VO 7476 - New Entry

  • VO 7477 - Deletion

  • VO 7478 - Deletion and New Entry(ies) i.e. where a split or merger of current entries occurs.

  • VO 7479 - Alteration of Historic Entry(ies). - where the entry or entries being altered are not the current ones e.g. where a proposal is made to reduce a band but, before it is agreed, the LO alters the List on account of a material increase and subsequent relevant transaction. The agreement on the original appeal will be in respect of an historic entry rather than the current entry.

An agreement form must be signed by all necessary parties taken from the list below. Before agreement forms, signed by at least one party, are forwarded to another party for signature, a copy of the original should be taken and kept with the case papers. This procedure should be followed each time a signature is added to the form and the previous photocopy destroyed. In this way, the signatures already obtained will be readily available should a partly signed form be lost in transit or not returned.

The parties whose written agreement is required to comply with Reg 13 are as follows:-

i) the Listing Officer;

ii) the appellant;

iii) the taxpayer at the date of appeal;

iv) the taxpayer at the date of agreement;

v) any other person who would have been competent to make the appeal, usually either the owner or the BA, and has within three months beginning on the date on which the appeal was served on the LO, served notice on the LO that they wish to be party to the proceedings.

4.8 Giving effect to agreements

When an agreement has been signed by all other parties, it must be signed and dated by the caseworker at EO level or above, who has been personally nominated by the LO to sign agreements on his/her behalf.

The CTVS and the working docket should then be completed and the papers passed for case clearance. The case should be cleared on the computer by inputting the relevant details including the appropriate settlement code. The revised entry(ies) will then appear automatically on the next Schedule of Alterations. The date to be input is the date shown on the agreement form. At all times, the aim must be to include the revised entry on the next available Schedule of Alterations. The generation dates of Schedules are shown on the Calendar of Overnight Batch Generations, which is available on the intranet. There is no requirement to notify the BA of an agreement unless they have “opted-in”. For retention of papers see Section 3 part 3.

4.9 Preparation of the Listing Officer’s case

Agreement of facts

Before a hearing, as many relevant facts as possible should be agreed, such as the features of the dwelling, relevant dates and history. This will allow the VTE to focus on the valuation matters in dispute.

Evidence

Evidence can be requested from appellants by using:

  • 1992 LGFA S.27 Notices requesting the supply of information; and,

  • Particulars Delivered (PDs) and data from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) forms

in VTE proceedings.

Authority for the use of PDs during hearings is given in Reg 17 of the Procedure regs; and for SDLT data in Section 48 of the Finance (No 2) Act 2005.

S.21(1) of LGFA 92 requires the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to disclose information obtained from Notices and the content of PD/SDLT data for the purpose of facilitating the compilation and maintenance of Lists by LOs. LOs are, therefore, entitled to use both Notices and PD/SDLT data when banding a dwelling and when considering the correctness of a band.

S.27(2) of LGFA 1992 enables a LO to serve a Notice on a person who is, or has been, an owner or occupier of a dwelling requesting him/her to supply information required in the Notice which the LO believes will assist in carrying out his/her functions.

When the LO is in possession of replies to Notices served, the content of these replies may be quoted when discussing an appeal at any stage before a VTE hearing. To use them at a VTE hearing, a Notice under Reg 17 (VO7474) MUST have been served.

Information from PD and SDLT data can be used in evidence under Reg 17 at any time after transmission to the VTE, but the LO must have complied with the requirements for the service of a Notice under Reg 17(3) as detailed below.

Any difficulty with appellants about the confidentiality of PD/SDLT data must be dealt with in a tactful manner. PD information and SDLT data are regarded as personal information which cannot be divulged without the consent of the parties except when the appeal has been listed by the VTE for hearing.

As the tone of the current Valuation List has become established, the use of VTE appeal decisions and relevant settlement evidence has become a more important factor in settling outstanding appeals. In addition to settlement evidence and evidence of comparable bandings, LOs may have sources of sale prices which are not subject to confidentiality, e.g. auction sales particulars, which may help to overcome any difficulties encountered in early disclosure of PD information or SDLT data.

LOs cannot dispute evidence produced by a taxpayer when this can only be challenged by using PD information or SDLT data not in the public domain or subject to Reg 17 procedures. Where the LO believes such evidence to be factually incorrect, this can be stated; as the burden of proof lies with the taxpayer to verify such evidence.

In the early years of a Valuation List, or when preparing for a revaluation, S.27 Notices may be useful. In practice, during the life of the List, this procedure is rarely used, although it remains available to LOs. Where it is felt that it is essential to obtain information using formal S.27 Notices, technical advice should be sought to ensure the Notice and covering letter meet with the statutory requirement. An example of where a S.27 may be used could be in respect of mobile home sites, where the freehold of the pitch and caravan are not usually sold together. The price paid for the chattel and the site rental may be important to establish where both will form part of the dwelling.

4.10 Information which may be used as evidence

Regulation 17 applies to four categories of information. A statutory procedure has to be followed to allow the documents containing the information to be used in evidence. The categories of documents are:-

i) PD/SDLT data

ii) Notices obtained for CT purposes under S.27(2) served on owners or occupiers;

iii) Forms of Return (FORs) and Notices Requesting the Supply of Information (NRSIs) obtained for Rating purposes under Schedule 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (for composites);

iv) Notices served under S.27(1) on BAs, and any person prescribed for the purposes of the sub-section, requesting information specified in the notice relating to property which the LO reasonably believes will assist in carrying out his/her functions.

Information contained in CT Notices or Rating FORs/NRSIs should be taken to include letters to the LO referring to a Notice recently made and giving additional information in relation to that specific notice/return.

At VTE hearings, LOs may wish to submit other evidence, e.g. facts relating to their inspections of dwellings. The admissibility of this evidence is subject to the normal requirements of VTE procedures.

The initiative in using documents under Reg 17 which contain information rests with the LO and other parties have no rights unless they are introduced into the proceedings by the LO.

Care must be taken to avoid any suggestion that LOs are taking any unfair advantage of this provision.

4.11 Regulation 17 (Procedure Regs)

The Reg 17(4) Notice is contained in form VO 7474, together with the schedule of documents VO 7472 and its continuation sheet. Both are available from MS Word Template. Provision is made in the schedules for the LO to state the number of dwellings in accordance with the CT List at the date of the notice to which the specified documents relate.

Reg 17(4) Notices can also be produced from the VOA CDB within the Appeal Package application. This facility has been produced primarily for the defence of the 2005 List in Wales but applies to all Lists and for all BAs in both England and Wales.

4.12 Using evidence at Valuation Tribunal ‘by agreement’

Whilst it is preferable to agree as many factual matters as possible before a hearing, such agreement cannot take the place of the Reg 17 procedure if a LO wishes to use PD/SDLT data, which is subject to the rules of Inland Revenue confidentiality and may only be disclosed where specific statutory authority exists. Reg 17(4) allows such disclosure but only if the laid-down procedure is followed. This procedure cannot be dispensed with by simply agreeing with the other parties that the information on a PD/SDLT is correct, because the information cannot be disclosed without first serving a Notice under Reg 17(4).

Once a Notice under Reg 17(4) has been served, it is permissible to agree the information as part of the agreed statement of facts.

Notices obtained under Section 27(2) are not subject to the same restrictions as PD/SDLT data. It is, however, usually appropriate to serve a Reg 17(4) notice first, rather than seek to include this information as part of the agreed statement of facts.

4.13 Regulation 17(4) notices

For information to be used in evidence, Reg 17(4) provides that the LO must ensure that:

i) the notice is served, to be received not less than two weeks prior to the hearing, on every party, specifying, in relation to any information to be used, the documents (or other media) containing the information;

ii) any party on whom notice is served, can inspect at any reasonable time and make a copy (other than a photographic copy) of the document.

Reg 17(4) does not require the LO’s notice to specify the information, but only the documents which contain the information. However, LOs will usually find it helpful to supply some or all of the information with the notice.

This may be done by enclosing with the Reg 17(4) Notice (VO7474) a Schedule of the sales (VO7472). The information which the LO wishes to use should be quoted. This is best done by including it on Sales Evidence sheets (VO7465) which will also contain factual details concerning the comparables, and inviting agreement to all the facts prior to the hearing.

The LO should not only select documents which provide information favourable to their case but should aim to give the VTE a fair picture of all the relevant sales evidence.

It is often sufficient to produce a reasonable sample of sales evidence, providing that this is representative of the whole. When it is appropriate to refer only to dwellings in the same short road as the appeal dwelling, the LO may decide to produce all the sales evidence. In other cases, a much wider selection may be required.

Each LO should give guidance to caseworkers on the number of dwellings to be specified but a maximum of 12 is usually sufficient. It should be remembered that the other party has the right to refer to an equal number of other dwellings (or up to four if the LO specifies less than four in the Regulation 17(4) Notice).

The introduction by a LO of sales evidence outside the CT Unit area should be restricted to essential dwellings close to CT Unit boundaries.

Whilst a minimum of two weeks’ notice is required, LOs should serve notices as soon as cases are listed. This will enable them to quote evidence from PD/SDLT data during discussions with taxpayers and other parties to appeals.

4.14 Counter-notices

In addition to the right to inspect, and to make copies of, the documents to be used by the LO, any person to whom notice is given under Reg 17(4) may serve a counter-notice under Reg 17(5) specifying other dwellings which are thought to be comparable in character or otherwise relevant to the case, and requiring the LO:-

i) to permit them to inspect and make a copy (other than a photographic copy) of all documents to which the Reg 17(4) notice applies which relate to the dwelling specified and which are in the possession of the LO; and

ii) to produce at the hearing, or to submit to the VTE beforehand, the documents which they have told the LO they require.

The right is limited in that the number of dwellings specified in the counter-notice must not exceed the number specified in the Reg 17(4) Notice, or four if the notice specifies four or fewer than four.

A counter-notice must be in writing but no set form is prescribed. In a case of ambiguity, the person should be informed by letter of the action the LO assumes the notice requires.

The right under Reg 17(5) does not extend to inspecting, or producing documents which relate to, dwellings outside the CT Unit area and which are thus not “in the possession of” the LO. Nevertheless, where a LO has included dwellings outside the CT Unit area in the Reg 17(4) notice, he/she should offer the person a similar right. This should not be limited to a number of “outside” dwellings equal to the number of “outside” dwellings quoted by the LO.

4.15 Documents to be produced following counter-notices

The right to serve a counter-notice refers to “any document” containing information to which Reg 17(4) applies and which relates to the dwellings specified in the other party’s notice. The LO must therefore produce, if so requested, all the documents relating to the specified dwellings. The person serving the counter-notice is, therefore, not limited to examining just PD/SDLT data for the dwellings specified but may also examine any FOR/NRSI or other documents to which Reg 17(4) applies.

No time limit is prescribed in Reg 17(5) for serving a counter-notice. There should be no delay in dealing with one when it has been received. If the counter-notice is received too close to the hearing for arrangements to be made for the inspection and making of copies, the LO should take all the documents and explain the circumstances to the VTE at the start of the hearing. The LO should not treat any counter-notice received before the date of hearing as too late for these purposes. The only other course of action available to the LO is to request an adjournment.

If, under Reg 17(5), the LO is told of documents which are required to be produced at the hearing, he/she should state in writing the documents which will be produced, to avoid any dispute.

Reg 17(5) (a) refers to documents “in the possession of the LO”. LOs should act reasonably in the interpretation of this phrase, considering in relation to:-

i) Dwellings in the same CT Unit as the appeal dwelling

If the LO has no documents for a dwelling specified in a counter-notice, which is in his/her Unit, the other party should be informed in writing immediately. There is no power for the other party to substitute another dwelling in a counter-notice, either because the information disclosed does not assist the party’s case or there is no document.

The LO cannot decline to produce for inspection any document held which relates to a dwelling which is not in the same BA area as the appeal dwelling.

ii) Dwellings in other CT Units

A LO should refuse to bring into his or her possession any document concerning a dwelling outside the Unit, unless such a dwelling has been included in the Reg 17(4) notice.

Reg 17(5) requires the dwellings specified in the counter-notice to be “comparable in character or otherwise relevant to that person’s case”.

Reg 17(8) does not allow any person who has served a counter-notice to inspect, copy or require the LO to produce any document, in so far as it contains information other than that which is reasonably required for the purpose of the proceedings. Whether the other dwellings specified in the counter-notice are comparable in character, or otherwise relevant to the case of the person who has served the notice, is a question for determination by the VTE.

4.16 Failure to comply with counter-notices

Where the LO has refused, or failed, to comply with a Reg 17(5) counter-notice, the person who served the notice may apply to the VTE for the LO to be directed to comply.

Upon receipt of a copy of such an application, the LO should immediately send a full report of the circumstances to the Technical Advisor, including reasons why it is thought the provisions of Reg 17(8) are not satisfied, together with a copy of the application and of all notices in respect of documents served by and on the LO in the proceedings. The LO should state in the report whether it is considered that legal representation should be given at the hearing of the application.

The Technical Advisor should report to the Head of CT Technical without delay enclosing a copy of all documents and expressing an opinion on the question of legal representation.

If the LO receives notice of hearing of the application before instructions are received from the Head of CT Technical, the Technical Advisor should be informed.

4.17 References to dwellings in different CT units

References to dwellings outside the CT Unit should be restricted to essential instances. When a LO needs to produce documents in respect of dwellings in other CT Units, certified copies should be obtained from the LO holding the documents. The LO holding the originals should certify each copy as follows:-

“Certified a true copy (signature) Listing Officer (name) Billing Authority. Date (……………)”.

On rare occasions, the LO or a designated CT caseworker for the appropriate CT Unit may be called to give evidence of comparison between the dwellings with sales evidence and the appeal dwelling.

4.18 Imperfect documents

Reg 17(4) does not apply to an unsigned S.27(2) Notice. Such a document should neither be specified in a notice by the LO, nor produced for inspection in consequence of a counter-notice.

No attempt should be made to erase any notes which have been added on any document after its receipt. The LO should be prepared to explain any such notes to the VTE or to the person to whom the document is produced for inspection.

4.19 Increasing bands of appeal dwellings

LOs have a statutory responsibility to maintain Council Tax Lists. When information comes to the LO’s attention which justifies an increase in band to that currently in the List and in the appeal, the LO must act upon that information and alter the List.

In this case the band should be increased by raising a LO Report in accordance with Section 2, before the appeal is heard by the VTE; i.e. without waiting for the appeal to be heard by the VTE. The LO should discuss the matter with the taxpayer in order that any further relevant information can be taken into account. It is not appropriate, however, to use the intention to increase the band as a threat or negotiating ploy to settle the appeal.

When the appeal is subsequently heard by the VTE, the band defended by the LO will depend upon the facts of the case and have regard to the relevance of the new information.

Further complications could arise on rare occasions, as follows:

Where there are two appeals listed for hearing at the same time, and the additional information shows that the historic entry was incorrect. In this case the LO should contend that the historic entry should have shown the higher band. The VTE has no facility to increase a band in respect of any period between the effective date of the historic entry in the List and the serving of the proposal. It is likely, however, that the VTE would issue a determination which would comment on the accuracy of the historic band and the reason for the effective date of the current decision.

Where additional information affecting the valuation band comes to light during the hearing. In this case, the LO should contend for an increased band to maintain the correct list entry. If the VTE agree, the decision will take effect from the date the List is altered in respect of that decision.

4.20 Increasing bandings of comparable dwellings

Where the LO considers that the bandings of comparable dwellings quoted by the appellant are too low, they should be increased to the correct level before the hearing. It is essential to advise the appellant of this course of action so that no reliance is placed at the hearing on any incorrect bandings.

4.21 Notices of hearings

Regulation 30 provides for the Clerk to the VTE to give at least 14 days notice of the date, time and place for the hearing.

The notice will include the name of a place where a list of the appeals to be heard can be viewed. LOs will usually be supplied with a copy of the agenda for each hearing in addition to the individual notices, as a party, to each appeal.

4.22 VTE appeal management powers

The VTE has wide ranging appeal management powers under Reg 6 of the VTE Procedure regs which states:-

(1) Subject to the provisions of Part 1 of Schedule 11 to the 1988 Act(1) and of these

Regulations, the VTE may regulate its own procedure.

(2) The VTE may give a direction in relation to the conduct or disposal of proceedings at any time, including a direction amending, suspending or setting aside an earlier direction.

(3) In particular, and without restricting the general powers in paragraphs (1) and (2), the VTE may:

(a) extend or shorten the time for complying with any regulation or direction

(b) consolidate or hear together two or more sets of proceedings or parts of proceedings raising common issues, or treat an appeal as a lead appeal (whether in accordance with regulation 7 or otherwise)

(c) permit or require a party to amend a document

(d) permit or require a party or another person to provide documents, evidence, information, or submissions to the VTE or a party

(e) deal with an issue in proceedings as a preliminary issue

(f) hold a hearing to consider any matter, including a case management issue

(g) decide the form of any hearing; (h) adjourn or postpone a hearing

(i) require a party to produce a bundle for a hearing

(j) stay proceedings; or

(k) suspend the effect of its own decision pending the determination by the Upper Tribunal or a court of an application for permission to appeal against, and any appeal against or review of, that decision.

An application by a LO in relation to any of the above, or for a ‘pre-hearing review’ under 6(f) in relation to any of the above, must be made with discretion. One should only be made in circumstances which would result in the substantive issue in dispute being clarified with a view to expediting and simplifying the actual hearing.

4.23 Preparing documentation for hearings

A series of forms has been prepared to assist caseworkers in preparing the documentation for a VTE hearing. Using a common and familiar style of documentation helps VTE members to assimilate information more quickly and easily. This format is considered to be easily followed and understood also by appellants and by members of the public.

The series consists of:

VO 7464 - Appeal settlement details

VO 7465 - Appeal sales evidence

VO 7467 - Evidence Summary Sheet. This is available within the package referred to below as both a Summary of Sales Evidence (VO7467A) and a Summary of Settlement Details (VO7467B).

VO 7466 - Appeal dwelling details

The type of evidence available also varies. Now that the tone has become established, more reliance on settlement evidence is possible. It is the caseworker’s duty to present a balanced selection of evidence rather than to select comparables which mainly support the LO’s opinion.

The documents can also be produced from stocks of hardcopy forms held locally and completed in manuscript.

4.24 Council Tax Valuation Sheets (CTVS)

A CTVS is completed as an appeal is settled. The completed CTVS is stored in EDRM.

4.25 Banding of appeal dwellings sheets

Whilst a precise valuation figure can be shown on a banding of appeal dwelling sheet, a band or a value range will usually suffice, supported by appropriate evidence. Where a dwelling clearly falls within a band, this is all that needs to be established to show the VTE that the band is correct. A valuation may only need to be shown where the LO’s opinion of value is close to a band margin and is in dispute.

4.26 Sales evidence sheets

A sales evidence sheet allows for the presentation of sales evidence in the same format as settlement evidence. The Remarks section should include a note of the source of the information, e.g. PD/SDLT data or Notice.

4.27 Summary sheets

Following detailed presentation of comparable evidence at a hearing, the caseworker usually has to summarise the main points which lead to the opinion of the band. A summary sheet allows the VTE to compare the main points easily in summary format.

4.28 Using Council Tax Lists

The contents of a List may be proved by the production of a certified copy of the whole or of part.

Bands of comparable dwellings can usually be included in schedules of agreed facts between the parties. Should this not be the case and difficulty is envisaged in this respect, certified copies of the List(s) or part(s) should be prepared, to be produced if required.

4.29 Completing the documents

It is sufficient for documents to be completed neatly in manuscript. The boxes marked “VO” at the top right hand corner of all sheets is for a page reference number in the VTE documentation and allows the caseworker to refer to sheet x or sheet y. The boxes have no significance outside the VTE hearing and should not be numbered until just before a hearing, so that last minute inclusions or deletions of sheets do not spoil the flow of numbers.

When the caseworker has prepared the originals, they should be photocopied. Copies are required as follows:-

i) VTE members (usually three);

ii) Clerk to the VTE;

iii) Parties (one each);

iv) LO.

After the hearing a copy of all the documents should be scanned into EDRM, and hardcopies disposed of as confidential waste.

4.30 Agreeing the facts

Where it is clear that a case will proceed to a hearing, the LO should send a copy of the documents to the appellant, inviting agreement to the factual details accompanied by a VO7474. This should be carried out at least seven calendar days before the hearing. This period must be increased to at least 14 calendar days when sales evidence is enclosed. This allows time for the appellant to consider them and to respond.

It is preferable to have sent details to the appellant before the hearing, but failing to do so does not prevent a LO from including other information in the VTE documentation. However, in principle the LO should, wherever possible, adopt a ‘no surprises’ policy to avoid criticism.

At the same time as sending a copy of the documents, the LO should ask for information about any comparables to which the appellant intends to refer at the hearing. Any reasonable request by an appellant for information about other dwellings which are thought to be comparable should be complied with.

When all facts have been agreed, this should be recorded on the CDB. It is the caseworker’s responsibility to ensure that this is carried out.

4.31 Disposal of appeal without a hearing by written representations

The VTE may dispose of appeals without a hearing under:

2009 Procedure Regulation 29 which allows for a hearing to be dispensed with where:-

(a) each party has consented to, or has not objected to, the matter being decided without a hearing; and

(b) the VTE considers that it is able to decide the matter without a hearing.

Though not usually a preferred route for LOs, in circumstances where the VTE direct (after agreement of the parties) that written representations are to be adopted, the LO should comply with those directions setting out procedures and time limits. These are set out under 1993 Reg 20, but not under 2009 Reg 29.

As a general rule the LO should only consent to this procedure being adopted in the following limited circumstances:-

i) illness or disability of the taxpayer which would make attendance at a hearing difficult. Such a reason could include not only long-term physical incapacity, but mental illness, such as agoraphobia or stress, if certified by a medical practitioner;

ii) excessive distance from the taxpayer’s home to the place where the hearing is to be held. If the taxpayer is required to travel for more than two hours, this may be considered unreasonable, and a suitable case for written representations;

iii) there is no dispute on matters of fact;

iv) the issues in dispute are matters of valuation opinion and not of legal agreement. For example, it is not considered appropriate for a dispute to be resolved by written representations if it concerns such issues as state of repair or disaggregation.

It is not considered appropriate to consent to written representations on the grounds that the appellant would find it easier, or preferable, to present a case in writing rather than orally. In such situations the appellant should be invited to present written submissions to the VT, which will hear the appeal in the absence of the appellant.

All requests for written representations must be referred to the Technical Adviser for prior approval, who will also offer advice and guidance on the preparation of written notices if it is considered appropriate to dispose of the appeal in this way.

4.32 Settlement by withdrawal

Reg19 of the 2009 appeal regs allows for an appeal to be withdrawn before the start of a hearing. The appellant may withdraw at any time prior to the hearing by sending, or delivering to, the VTE a written notice of withdrawal. An appeal can also be withdrawn by the appellant verbally at the hearing. The VOA is informed of settlements by withdrawal through the VTE log which is transmitted electronically.

4.33 Settlement by agreement

Under Reg 13 of the 2009 appeal regs the VTE must be notified, as soon as reasonably practical, that an appeal has been settled by agreement. Copies of the notice should be served on all parties to the agreement.

When an agreement form has been signed in accordance with paragraph 4.7 above, the working docket should be completed and the case papers passed to caseworker support to update the Valuation List.

4.34 General Valuation Tribunal Procedures

It is in the interests of the Valuation Tribunal Service (VTS), taxpayers, appellants and the VOA, that the LO and all staff adopt a reasonable, helpful and professional attitude at all times during the hearing of an appeal.

It is the duty of the VTS to ensure that the VTE is properly constituted and the LO should not object to its constitution except in very exceptional circumstances. When a hearing has taken place and the LO considers that the presence of a member, about whom the question of disqualification could have arisen, has prejudiced a decision, a report should be submitted to the Technical Advisor, who should forward it to the Head of CT Technical after adding any suitable observations.

A Tribunal usually consists of three members. Where all parties agree, the appeal may be decided by two members in the absence of a third. LOs should normally agree to a two-member hearing.

Reg 13 of the 2009 Procedure regs allows any party at the hearing to be represented by another person, including legal representation. The BA may be represented by their Clerk or by another designated officer. Other parties may appear in person or be represented. No member or employee of the particular VTE may act as a representative for a party.

The LO may delegate the duty of conducting appeals to caseworkers or above. Whenever possible the LO, CT Team Leader or complex caseworker should conduct any case involving important questions of principle where legal representation is not accorded and they should always be prepared to conduct any case where it is considered that it warrants personal attention.

Although it is not normally necessary, LOs may seek to be legally represented before the VTE. If an important point of principle is likely to arise, a report, together with the case papers, should be sent to the Technical Advisor at an early stage. If the Technical Advisor considers that legal representation is advisable, a submission should be made to the Head of CT Technical. Special instructions will then be given.

4.35 Appearing at hearings

A person’s entitlement to appear, and be heard, is a matter solely for a VTE to decide. Generally, it is those persons whose signature is required to agree to an alteration to the List who are entitled to appear and be heard.

If any point concerning entitlement arises, as a party to the proceedings, the LO may put forward an opinion. In general, the LO must be helpful to the VTE and at all times be seen to be taking a reasonable attitude, particularly with regard to unrepresented appellants. The LO should, under no circumstances, refuse to comply with requests to give evidence or explanations about agreements; for example where signatures of taxpayers have not been obtained.

Any party to an appeal which is to be decided at a hearing may appear in person (with assistance from any other person if he/she wishes), by counsel or solicitor, or by any other representative (other than a person who is a member, clerk or other employee of the particular VTE).

Only a person who appeared at a VTE hearing, and who is aggrieved, can appeal to the High Court on a question of law arising out of a decision or order of the VTE (or if the appeal was disposed of by written representations, who made such representations).

4.36 Assisting unrepresented appellants

LOs must offer all reasonable assistance to unrepresented appellants who are unsure of council tax procedures. LOs should be prepared to help an appellant in the presentation of the facts of the case and should be prepared to open the presentation of a case if requested by the appellant or the VTE.

Unless the VTE determines otherwise, the LO shall begin the hearing on an invalid appeal or a matter arising from a List alteration. In any other case, parties may be heard in such order as the VTE requires.

4.37 Non-appearance of entitled parties

If every party to an appeal other than the LO, fails to appear at a hearing, the VTE may dismiss the appeal.

In the absence of a person who is entitled to appear, the VTE may proceed on the assumption that the person does not wish to appear, providing they are satisfied that due notice of the date, time and place of the hearing has been given. If the LO is aware of an intention on the part of that person to apply for an adjournment, the VTE should be so informed. The LO may ask the VTE to dismiss the appeal if the appellant does not appear, but should be prepared to briefly deal with the grounds of the appeal.

4.38 Conduct of cases

The manner in which a case is conducted at a VTE hearing is at the discretion of the LO, bearing in mind his / her dual role of advocate and witness, but subject to any procedure prescribed by the VTE.

VOA staff must ensure that there is no undue liaison with the VTE members or with the Clerk. They must avoid any familiarity which could possibly be misconstrued by appellants and others.

If it is considered essential, an inspection of the appeal dwelling would normally be made by the caseworker who is to conduct the case before the hearing. If an inspection is necessary and it is refused, and the caseworker is not sufficiently familiar with the dwelling to reach an opinion, or to comment upon how the value may be affected by any disability mentioned in the grounds of the appeal, the appellant should be informed in writing before the hearing.

If permission to inspect is still refused, the caseworker should inform the VTE that an inspection has been refused and, if the circumstances warrant, the caseworker should ask the VTE to adjourn the hearing. No attempt should be made to emphasise the unco-operative attitude of the occupier but the caseworker should be prepared to give an account of the efforts made to inspect if asked to do so.

It should be noted that the legislation conveys a general permission to enter where notice conditions have been fulfilled. It does NOT give the LO rights to enforce entry to a property of an obstructive party. Section 26 LGFA 1992 simply states that, in the event of delay or obstruction, “he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale”. Where an inspection is evidently necessary, the VTE may not be averse to the suggestion that the hearing be adjourned to facilitate a joint inspection with the co-operation of the taxpayer. An adjournment on the basis that the LO should enforce rights of inspection under S26 will be fruitless.

The nature and extent of the evidence to be submitted to the VTE will be governed by any rules prescribed by the VTE and the nature of the case. The caseworker should disclose all material evidence, and the VTE should be informed in proper sequence of everything that is relevant to assist a decision. A caseworker should bear in mind the need for impartiality; this may be shown in many ways, such as assisting an appellant who is not fully aware of VTE procedures.

Although privilege can be claimed in respect of statements made at a VTE hearing, a caseworker should avoid making denigrating remarks (e.g. with regard to standards of building) as far as is consistent with giving accurate evidence. If a LO receives a communication about such a statement, the explanatory reply is not privileged. Any such letters should, therefore, be acknowledged and immediately referred to the Head of CT Technical with a copy to the Technical Advisor.

The caseworker has the right to cross-examine both witnesses and unrepresented parties. This must be exercised with discretion, particularly in the case of an unrepresented appellant.

4.39 Hearings in public

A VTE always sits in public unless otherwise ordered. The LO is entitled to apply for exclusion of the public but should not normally make any such application.

Occasions may arise when a public hearing would be prejudicial to the interests of the appellant who makes no application for the exclusion of the public through ignorance of their rights. In such a case the caseworker should draw the attention of the VTE to the question of a private hearing.

If evidence which relates to sales is produced and the Press is present, the Chairperson should be asked to request the Press not to publish details of any sales quoted.

When the LO wishes to quote any reported case law, reference should be made to reports by volume and page. These should, whenever possible, relate to reports published in a form available to the public rather than those contained in journals of professional institutions.

When the LO wishes to quote a case which has not been reported in the press, a copy of the decision should be made available to the other parties.

4.40 Notes of hearings

Notes must be taken of every hearing. They may be brief and retained in manuscript but contain sufficient detail to enable a memorandum of evidence to be prepared if required. They should show the parties who appeared, whether they appeared in person, or were represented, including names and capacities, the contentions put forward and a summary of the evidence given by all parties. It is important that where appellants put in relevant material to the VTE, a copy is retained, or the VTE asked to make a copy.

4.41 The dual role of the Listing Officer

The caseworker acts in the role of both advocate and witness when appearing at a hearing without any witnesses. When appearing in this dual capacity:-

  • The role of “advocate” is taken when introducing the case and setting out the legislation and any case law, the issues in dispute, and the strengths of the arguments.

  • The role of the “witness” is undertaken when turning to the facts, presenting the evidence (either by referring to paperwork, or by expressing opinions) and reaching conclusions to be drawn as to the correct value.

A caseworkers representing the LO as a witness before a VTE has a primary duty to the tribunal to present unbiased evidence to assist the tribunal to reach the correct decision.

When both law and fact are involved, there is usually advantage in asking the VTE to deal with the two aspects of the appeal separately. This becomes more difficult if the VTE requires evidence on oath (or affirmation) and in such a case, the LO must be guided by the Chairperson.

4.42 Giving evidence

The VTE is not required to follow the rules of evidence as applied to proceedings in Courts of Law, and should avoid formality in their proceedings as much as possible. The VTE may issue directions in specific cases as to the nature of the evidence or submissions it requires (Procedure Reg 17).

The following guiding principles apply for formulating a correct and logical presentation of evidence:-

i) The burden of proof rests with the appellant

When the LO is required to open the presentation, he/she should seek to discharge the burden of proof to the satisfaction of the VTE.

When the taxpayer opens the presentation, the LO should not normally rest his/her case on any failure of the taxpayer to discharge the burden of proof.

The attention of the VTE may be drawn to this fact if the LO considers it necessary.

ii) Evidence should be relevant to the issue

Whether evidence is relevant should not be regarded as a serious matter at a VTE hearing, but irrelevant evidence put forward by the LO is usually valueless and only tends to obscure evidence which is relevant.

iii) All evidence must be given in open session

All evidence should be given openly. Evidence can be given in the absence of a party who is entitled to appear but has not. At the VTE’s discretion, the LO may give evidence in the absence of an appellant who has requested the hearing to proceed in his/her absence, or who has not appeared and has not requested an adjournment.

iv) Direct evidence must be given in preference to circumstantial evidence

The most convincing evidence is that given by witnesses stating facts known to them personally. Direct evidence of value is preferable to opinion.

An opinion is not normally admissible in evidence unless the witness is an “expert witness”, i.e. a person with training and experience in the matter in question.

v) Using comparables

Introducing details of comparable dwellings situated outside the CT Unit area should be avoided except when considered essential and then only with the prior approval of Head of CT Technical.

The band of a dwelling which is the subject of an outstanding appeal should not be submitted as a comparable by the LO.

vi) Hearsay evidence

The VTE is not bound by legal rules relating to the admissibility of evidence before a Court of Law. The provisions of Part I of the Civil Evidence Act 1968, together with The Rules of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Order 1969 and the Civil Evidence Act 1972 which contain rules governing the introduction and use of hearsay evidence of fact and statement of opinion, cannot be invoked. The VTE will itself decide on the admissibility of any hearsay evidence submitted and the weight to be attached to it.

vii) Limitation of evidence

A VTE which adopts formal procedures may require an appellant to keep any evidence within the terms of the appeal. A LO should not normally seek such a restriction.

4.43 Evidence on oath

Any party to an appeal is entitled to ask that evidence shall be given on oath or affirmation, and the VTE has discretion to agree or refuse. A LO should not normally make such an application.

If the VTE requires evidence to be given on oath or affirmation in a case in which the LO appears as both advocate and witness, it will generally be more convenient to take the oath or make affirmation at the outset. If the LO is on oath or affirmation, care should be taken in the presentation to differentiate between advocacy and expert evidence.

4.44 Higher bands found to be justified at hearings

On rare occasions, additional information may come to light during a hearing which had not previously been made available to the LO. This may cause the LO to wish to change the current band to a higher one. The LO is entitled to seek this higher band when presenting the case, but not of course where a material increase awaits a relevant transaction.

If necessary, a request should be made for a short adjournment so that proper consideration can be given to the matter. If the new information is very complex, a request for the hearing to be adjourned may be more appropriate.

There is always a possibility that a VTE decision could be challenged by way of a judicial review (and the appeal set aside or re-heard) if the VTE had acted illegally, irrationally, with some procedural impropriety or by giving effect to an increase on the basis of the new information without having heard any formal evidence or arguments to support it from those entitled to appear. Whilst the VTE alone must decide whether or not to order a higher band, the LO should endeavour to ensure that it only does so on a sound legal basis in an appropriate case.

If the LO decides, in the light of the additional information, that a higher band should be sought in respect of the appeal before the VTE, it is this higher band which should be contended for, regardless of any offer that might have been made previously in the absence of that information.

4.45 Inspection of dwellings by Valuation Tribunals

Unless the circumstances are exceptional the LO should not ask the VTE to inspect an appeal dwelling nor any comparables quoted.

If the VTE proposes to inspect, the LO should accept an invitation to be present at the inspection and should be prepared to assist in the making of such arrangements as may be practicable. Under Reg 34 of the 2009 Procedure regs, the VTE may enter and inspect the appeal dwelling after giving notice to the parties and, so far as is practical, any comparable to which the attention of the VTE panel is drawn, but may limit the numbers of each interested party attending to one person.

4.46 Decisions of Valuation Tribunals

The decision may be given verbally at the end of the hearing or reserved and given in writing only later. In both instances, the decision must be sent to the parties in writing as soon as practicable after the hearing. The written notice must be accompanied by a statement of the reasons for the decision which forms part of the decision.

Reg 38 of the 2009 procedure regs provides that on or after the VTE has decided an appeal, the LO must alter the List in accordance with that decision from the date the decision is given. In practical terms this means that any change to a band must be included in the next Schedule of Alterations.

If the decision is that the band should be higher than that currently shown, the effective date for the change is to be that on which the decision is given (not the date of the hearing).

When a VTE decision is received, the caseworker should endorse the working docket with details of the decision and then pass the file for case clearance to caseworker support.

A decision that an appeal which sought to aggregate a number of bands to form one new band should remain disaggregated needs special treatment from an administrative angle. A decision indicator cannot be given to more than one dwelling on the computer. It will therefore be necessary to raise additional appeals, one for each resultant/remaining dwelling and to clear them by inputting the appropriate settlement code of ‘C’. This decision indicator will be shown in future reprints of the CT List, and will form part of the entry.

4.47 Reviewing and setting aside decisions

Reg 39 applies to clerical errors and states that the VTE may, at any time, correct a clerical mistake or accidental slip or omission in a decision, direction or order.

A LO may wish to point out such errors only when such errors or omissions are material to the decision.

Reg 40 of the 2009 Procedure regs states that a review of a VTE decision can be requested by any party to the appeal within 28 days of the decision having been sent, and will be considered by the President of the VTE. An application must be in writing and can only be made on one or more of the following grounds:-

(a) a document relating to the proceedings was not sent to, or was not received at an appropriate time by, a party or a party’s representative;

(b) a document relating to the proceedings was not sent to the VTE at an appropriate time;

(c) a party or its representative was not present at a hearing relating to the proceedings and the party shows reasonable cause for its representative’s absence;

(d) there has been some other procedural irregularity in the proceedings;

(e) the decision is affected by a decision of, or on appeal from, the Upper Tribunal or the High Court;

(f) …(relates to completion notice appeals only)

An application for a review must be made to the VTE and not to the LO. If an application is received by the LO it should be passed immediately to the VTE and the applicant informed of the action taken.

The LO should take advice from the Technical Adviser before making an application under this head.

There is no specified format for the request, and much depends on the circumstances in each instance. The application should be made in the form of a letter addressed to the VTE admin unit with a copy to each of the parties, clearly stating the grounds and the reason for the request. Notification should be sent at the same time to the BA.

The procedural steps to be taken by the LO to reinstate such an appeal case are set out below.

4.48 Disposal of hardcopy VTE agendas

Hardcopy agendas, if printed, can be disposed of as restricted waste. This does not apply to VTE decisions, which need to be linked to the individual appeals to which they apply and stored within the relevant EDRM case folder and retained for the life of the list plus one year

4.49 Reinstatement of cases

There may be an occasion when the VTE wishes to reinstate a case. This will normally be a case that was previously dismissed.

The following procedures should be followed to reinstate an appeal where a VTE decision is revoked and an appeal reopened. They have been agreed between the VOA and the VTE.

The better the liaison between the LO and the VTE on issues such as reinstatements, the less likelihood there is of ongoing problems

The VTE will request the LO for a reinstatement and will prevent the original decision from appearing on their Appeals Management page on the Internet.

4.50 Listing Officer processes to reinstate

On receipt of a request from the VTE, the appeal must be reinstated with its original CT case number on the VOA CDB using the Reinstate Case Option (Option 10) within the Cases Menu of the CT Application.

The reinstatement functionality automatically removes the settlement code and settlement date from the case and, where the original settlement details have already been transmitted, sets the case for transmission to the VTE as a reinstatement.

Where the original VTE decision ordering a band change(s) that has already appeared on a Schedule of Alterations, this will remain in force after the appeal case reinstatement and an LO Report must be raised to ‘reverse the change’. In such instances a warning message is displayed on committing the case reinstatement to advise the user that a report should be raised.

If the band change(s) resulting from the original case settlement has not appeared on a Schedule of Alterations, the relevant pending banding record(s) are automatically deleted by the reinstatement process.

The VTE will proceed to deal with the reinstated appeal in the usual way.

Part 5: appeals to the High Court - England

VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates.

NB: Pre 1 October 2009, the relevant Regulations were The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) regulations 1993/290. These are still applicable for Wales.

Post 1 October 2009 in England, the relevant regulations are The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating) (Procedure) Regulations 2009/2269.

5.1 Introduction

An appeal against a VTE decision for council tax (CT) purposes is made to the High Court (HC) and not to the Lands Tribunal. An appeal can be made only on a question of law by any party to the appeal who is aggrieved by the decision, e.g. if that party believes the VTE wrongly interpreted the valuation evidence, and/or law, in arriving at its decision.

An appeal is heard in the Queen’s Bench Division Administrative Court of the High Court. All cases are classed as “divisional” and therefore administered at CEO as they will involve a point of law.

The procedures are as set out in the Rules of the Supreme Court - Order 55 (Appendix 3.7).

###5.2 Outline

A very tight timetable is set out for these procedures, which require the service of various documents. A great deal of time is involved in preparation by the HMRC solicitor. The Head of Council Tax Technical will instruct, and liaise with, the solicitor and legal Counsel who will be instructed to take the case.

Before making an appeal, the solicitor has firstly to read all the papers and then determine what (if any) errors of law are disclosed by the decision of the VTE. Copies of the Notice of Motion have to be prepared and served on the various respondents, two Affidavits (Affidavit of service and the LO’s detailed Affidavit in support of the appeal) have to be prepared and served, and draft instructions to Counsel prepared.

5.3 Time limits for appeals

Regulation 43(2) (England) provides that an appeal may be dismissed by the HC if it is not made within 28 days from the day the applicant received notice of the decision in question.

Regulation 40 (England) makes provision for a VTE to review one of its decisions. In such a case, the appeal may be dismissed by the HC if it is not made within four weeks beginning on the day the applicant received notice of:

  1. the determination that the VTE will not undertake a review;

  2. the determination of the VTE not to set aside the decision in question;

  3. the issue of a certificate reviewing the original decision;

  4. the issue of an order revoking the original decision pending a re-hearing or redetermination.

5.4 Instigating appeals

An appeal is brought by “Originating Motion”. The Notice of Motion must state in its grounds why the decision is considered to be wrong and whether the appeal is against the whole or part of the decision of the VTE.

The Notice of Motion will normally be served upon and the appeal entered in The Crown Office, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, together with two copies and the prescribed fee, (payable to HM Paymaster General) within 28 days of the date of the decision of the VTE. A copy must be served on the Chairman to the VTE and on each party to the proceedings.

HMRC Solicitors will be instructed to deal with an appeal, whether instigated by the LO or where a taxpayer initiates an appeal, by receipt of papers from the Administrative Court.

Counsel instructed by the HMRC solicitor will represent the LO in all cases before the HC. The solicitor will normally serve all necessary documents and advise on procedure, but in order to do so, (certainly where the LO is the appellant), must be provided with all the relevant documents and instructions from CEO not later than ten days from the date of the VTE decision.

5.6 Listing Officer as party

As the hearing will concern legal argument only, fresh expert evidence will not be heard. The LO in person will be the appellant or respondent (as appropriate) named in the case, and will be represented by legal Counsel.

5.7 Action where Listing Officer considers an appeal should be made

Where a LO considers an appeal should be made, after discussion with a council tax Technical Adviser (TA), a copy of the VTE decision, relevant LO documentation and a covering letter must be sent to the Head of Council Tax Technical within 48 hours of receipt of the decision.

The VTE decision is the crucial document for advisers to judge whether a legal error exists and should indeed be corrected to maintain correct lists, to establish correct legal principles and to prevent possible ill founded ‘relevant decision’ proposals.

A memorandum of evidence, a copy of the proposal and an appeal report (Appendix 3.8) should be prepared and sent in duplicate, together with the LO’s complete file, to arrive at CEO within five working days of receipt of the decision. A copy should be sent to the Technical Adviser.

5.8 Action when a notice of motion is received from another party

When a Notice of Motion is received, the LO should scan and send this electronically to the Head of CT Technical and to the Technical Adviser immediately. A memorandum of evidence, a copy of the proposal, a copy of the VTE decision and an appeal report should be prepared and sent in duplicate, together with the LO’s complete file, to arrive at CEO within five working days of receipt of the Notice of Motion. A copy should be sent to the Technical Adviser.

5.9 Appeal report

The aim of an appeal report (Appendix 3.8) is to set out all the material facts and other information about the case. Part 8 of the report should be concise and objective. Undue emphasis should not be put on the LO’s case, and attention should be drawn to any aspect which may reflect adversely on the LO. The report should not be a transcript of the VTE hearing, but one should be attached if it has been prepared.

5.10 Registration and subsequent correspondence

The appeal must then be registered on the computer. Care must be taken to ensure that the VTE decision has been input prior to registering the HC Appeal.

All hardcopy papers relating to the appeal must be collated and placed in a plastic wallet. The Working Docket VO7456 should be placed as the top item in the wallet. Survey particulars, CTVS and other documentation will be retrievable from EDRM. The wallet should then be passed to the caseworker.

Duplicate copies of subsequent correspondence will be sent from the Head of CT Technical to the HMRC Solicitor. On no account should any further correspondence be entered into between the taxpayer and the local office. Any correspondence or telephone calls relating to the case should be referred to the HMRC Solicitor, via the Head of CT Technical. Occasionally, a caseworker may be copied in to a relevant email to ease direct contact when necessary, as time may be of the essence.

5.11 Notifying the Billing Authority

The LO will need to establish whether the Billing Authority (BA) is likely to be a party to the appeal, as soon as possible. Where the BA is not a party to the appeal, the LO should advise them of the existence of the appeal so that they are aware of the situation when dealing with billing matters.

When the LO is notified that the BA wishes to be a party to a High Court appeal, the LO should notify the Head of CT Technical and the Technical Adviser immediately.

5.12 Clearance

When an appeal is cleared, details should be entered onto the computer promptly, using the appropriate settlement code listed on the CT Mini Work Aid. If a change to the band has been specified, this will then be included automatically in the next Schedule of Alterations for the BA.

Case papers should be filed with other cases settled in the same month.

5.13 Consequential matters

Following a decision to change a band, consideration must be given to any consequential reviews of the bands for other dwellings which may be necessary.

If changes are clearly warranted, the LO should arrange for LO Reports to be raised.

Appendix 3.2: England - accepting letters as proposals

  1. A letter may be accepted as a proposal, but only if it satisfies the basic requirements of a valid proposal set out in 2 below and Appendix 3.3.

  2. Regulation 5 of SI 2009/2270 refers to the manner of making proposals and the information to be included in such a proposal. Reg 5(1) states:-

“A proposal shall be made by notice in writing served on the Listing Officer, and this notice shall:-

(a) state the name and address of the proposer, and the capacity in which the proposer makes the proposal;

(b) identify the dwelling to which it relates;

(c) identify the respects in which it is proposed the list be altered;

(d) and include –

i. a statement of the reasons for believing the List to be inaccurate;

ii. if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(1)(d), a statement of the reasons for the belief that an event mentioned in regulation 3 (1)(a) has occurred, and the date on which the event occurred;

iii. if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(1)(e), a statement identifying the property to which the decision in question relates and the date of that decision and (as the case may be) that the decision was a decision of the VTE or the High Court;

iv. if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(3), a statement of the day on which the proposer became the taxpayer;

v. if the proposal disputes the accuracy of an alteration made by the LO, a statement of the day on which the LO served the relevant notice under regulation 12;

vi. if the proposal disputes the day from which an alteration should have effect, a statement of the day proposed in its place.

Reg 5(2) continues

A proposal may deal with more than one dwelling—

a. in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(1)(a); or

b. where the proposer makes the proposal in the same capacity as respects each dwelling, and each of the dwellings is within the same building as each other dwelling or, where any of them is not within a building, it is within the same curtilage as the other or others.

  1. These statutory requirements are not widely known to the general public, and many taxpayers do not know what information has to be provided to the LO so that a formal proposal can be made against the band of their dwelling. In the past many letters have, therefore, automatically been treated as proposals in order to give the taxpayers the benefit of any doubt.

  2. Regulation 4 sets out the circumstances and periods in which valid proposals can be made. These are shown in Appendix 3.4. Even when a letter is construed as purporting to be a proposal, it is likely to be invalid if it fails to comply with Regulation 4. This regulation does not allow much discretion to the LO, particularly in terms of periods in which proposals can be made.

  3. Judgement on what constitutes a proposal, and whether it is invalid, must be based on a proper interpretation of the statutory provisions referred to above, but this can be tempered in areas of doubt by having regard to the intentions of the taxpayer when approaching the LO. Many taxpayers are wary of what they perceive to be bureaucratic procedures and prefer their enquiry to be dealt with more informally. Customer care should, therefore, be high on the list of priorities of any LO, and a flexible common sense approach should be adopted in cases of doubt, rather than making a strict legalistic interpretation of the taxpayer’s wishes when writing to the LO.

  4. If a letter is in the nature of an enquiry, it should NOT be treated as a proposal. In judging correspondence, a note must be made of the reasons why a letter has been treated as an informal enquiry or as a proposal, and in the case of a proposal whether it is to be treated as valid or invalid. The note must be signed and dated, and attached to the letter.

Letters may be simple requests for the LO to check the present band rather than to alter the List. They should be subject to the same checking procedures which are adopted following the disposal or transmission of an invalid proposal, i.e. a LO Report requested and the matter dealt with accordingly. Taxpayers often appreciate their request being dealt with informally and quickly rather than following the full procedures for invalid proposals.

Where there is a clear intention to seek an alteration to the CT List, this should be treated as a proposal, and the tests for validity set out in Appendix 3.3 should then be applied.

Appendix 3.3: England - basic requirements for a valid proposal

Part A – details of dwelling and occupation

Following the accepted principles of interpretation set out in the main text at Part 2 of this section at para 2.1, following the Imperial Tobacco case, care should be taken to identify which of the four categories a proposal that falls short of the full requirements falls into, ie:-

  1. Minor clerical error - does not require invalidity notice.

  2. Significant omission - may or may not require notice depending on what is omitted.

  3. Misleading information – in all cases where deliberate will require invalidity notice.

  4. Fundamental error - does require invalidity notice, or can be raised at later date.

The guidance and examples given below reflect these principles.

1. Full postal address of the dwelling

The address of the dwelling must be shown in Part A. Whilst it must be possible for the LO to identify the dwelling to which the proposal is intended to relate with a reasonable degree of certainty, it is not a requirement that the address should match exactly the entry shown in the list. The omission of the postcode does not make the proposal invalid.

Example

The form shows an address of Apple Cottage, High Street. All entries in High Street are numbered only, but it is known from old records that Apple Cottage is No 12. Therefore the proposal is not invalid on address grounds.

2. Name of current council taxpayer

If this is omitted the proposal is incomplete and should be returned for completion.

If, in spite of requests, the proposer refuses to complete it, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

3. Date the proposer became the taxpayer

Where this is time critical in relation to 6 months occupancy the date on which the proposer became the taxpayer is an essential requirement. It does not have to be exact to the day unless this is a crucial aspect of becoming the taxpayer.

Where, however, the date is not given, but the LO knows from other sources that the IP does have a right to make a valid proposal, for example, a transaction within six months, though it would be a significant omission, it will not prejudice LO case, and may be accepted as valid.

In cases where the omission leaves LO unable to verify validity from known facts, and in spite of requests the proposer refuses to complete it, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

4. Valuation list reference number

Not essential. A proposal should not be treated as incomplete or invalid just because it has not been completed.

5. Band in list

Not essential. A proposal should not be treated as incomplete or invalid just because it has not been completed.

6. Part B – details of your proposal

1

a

The entry set out in the Listing Officer’s Notice dated ddmmyyyy is inaccurate.

If this date is more than six months from the date of receipt of the form the proposal should be treated as invalid. If however, the date is missing or inaccurate, but it is otherwise obvious from information given in the context of the case as to what notice is referred to, and the proposal would be in time, it should not be treated as invalid on that ground alone.

b

Having become the taxpayer in respect of the dwelling shown above within the last six months I believe its present entry in the Valuation List is inaccurate.

The date must be included in Part A on which the maker became the taxpayer (subject to this being a known fact by the LO). There is no requirement to obtain documentary proof. If the date is more than six months from the date of receipt of the form, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

c

The dwelling shown above should be deleted from the Valuation List.

Reasons must be given in box 2. If there are none, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

Examples

The dwelling is empty and in poor repair (NB though this is unlikely to give rise to a deletion, it should not be treated as invalid on receipt –a proposal to delete can be made at any time)

The dwelling is derelict and beyond repair.

The dwelling has been demolished.

The dwelling is no longer used for domestic purposes and should be deleted from the Council Tax List (this could result in a Rating assessment being made and the property included in the Rating List).

d

The dwelling shown above should be included in the Valuation List.

Reasons must be given in box 2. If there are none, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

Examples

The dwelling has been recently built and the BA are refusing to acknowledge its existence. The dwelling is no longer used for non-domestic purposes and should be subject to Council Tax banding (this could result in the property being deleted from the Rating List).

e

e dwellings shown above should be included in the Valuation List as one entry.

This is most likely to apply where the owner makes the proposal to aggregate a number of existing bands into one band. Reasons must be given in box 2. If there are none, the proposal should be treated as invalid. See Practice Note 5.

Examples

A dwelling subject to disaggregation is treated as two bands, and the owner/taxpayer wishes to have 1 band on the whole dwelling.

f

The dwelling shown above should be included in the Valuation List as more than one entry.

Reasons must be given in box 2. If there are none, the proposal should be treated as invalid. See Practice Note 6.

Examples

Where a taxpayer of an Aggregated dwelling in an HMO seeks to have a separate banding for valid reasons following material changes changes. Note: general proposals seeking splits where LO has exercised discretion under Article 4 of CDO will be treated as invalid under regulation 4A of 2009 Appeals regs.

g

There has been a ‘material reduction’ in the value of the dwelling shown above.

This relates to the demolition of part of the dwelling or some change in the physical state of the locality, or disabled person’s adaptations that have lowered the dwelling’s value. Reasons, and the date of the event, must be given in box 2. If there are none, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

What is being considered here is the validity of the proposal, not the band for Council Tax purposes. Demolition of part is dealt with in Practice Note 4 para 4.3 and will not be a reason for reducing a band where connected with a future building operation, but this would not prevent the proposal from being treated as validly made.

Examples of matters which are not ‘material reductions’ are increases in nuisance from traffic, flooding caused by extreme weather conditions, annoying conduct from neighbours, and temporary building works in the vicinity. See Council Tax Manual - Section 3 - Part 2 : Invalid Proposals and Invalidity Appeals

h

There has been a ‘material increase’ in the value and a subsequent ‘relevant transaction’ in respect of the dwelling shown above.

This is the same circumstance as a CR10 report for List maintenance purposes and is most unlikely to result in a proposal being made. Reasons, and the date of the relevant transaction, must be given in box 2. If there are none, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

If any date given is found to be incorrect or there is no supporting evidence that a sale has been completed, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

I

There has been an increase or decrease in the domestic use of the dwelling shown above.

This is where a composite property (partly domestic and partly non-domestic and identified in the Council Tax List) has changed by including additional part(s) of the building for domestic use, or by transferring parts of the domestic portion into non-domestic use. Reasons must be given in box 2. If there are none, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

It must be noted that the non-domestic part does not have to be subject to rating –it could be non-domestic but exempt.

Examples

The living accommodation attached to a shop is reduced in size because one room is now used as part of the shop.

Part of the living accommodation attached to a place of worship is now used as a vestry for the church.

One room formerly used as office accommodation has reverted to use as a living room (most likely when a Rating proposal is made to reduce the Rating assessment).

j

Review following a ‘relevant decision’ of a Valuation Tribunal or the High Court

This type is subject to a six month time limit from the date of the decision. Also the relevance of the decision to the subject property must be clearly stated. The address of the dwelling concerned must be given in box 2. If no clear link established, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

Examples

The decision must have a valid connection with the subject property, in terms of type, character and locality. A farmhouse composite in Warwickshire will not be connected with a farmhouse in Somerset, no matter how similar they are, because the same comparables would not be used to value the properties.

In contrast, properties of similar size and character on the same estate as the decision property, would qualify.

2

Reason(s)

The use of this is explained in each of the paragraphs above. Where it is incomplete AND is needed, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

Any separate sheet of Reasons must be stapled to the original form and not attached using a paper clip.

3

Proposed Band and Effective Date

Leaving one or both of these fields blank does not make the proposal invalid on its/their own.

7. Part C – details of the person making this proposal

The maker of this proposal is Owner Occupier Other

This must be completed. If it is not the proposal is incomplete and should be returned for completion.

If, in spite of requests, the proposer refuses to complete it, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

Both the maker’s name and the maker’s address are statutorily required and together make up the “Party Details” for input to the Council Tax Application.

It is a requirement that a proposal must state the capacity of the maker (e.g. owner/occupier, agent). If the maker’s capacity is not stated, or the wording used is unacceptable, the form should be returned for clarification.

VO 7455 asks for the name of the occupier (if different from the maker). This is in itself not a statutory requirement. It is designed to assist the LO to fulfil the requirement to serve a copy of the proposal on the taxpayer where necessary. Where it is obvious that the name given as “occupier” is wrong or is not supplied (unless the dwelling is vacant) and the proposal has been made by another person, a copy should be served on “The Council Taxpayer”.

Name of the person making this proposal and address for correspondence

The name of the proposer must be clearly stated, or a reference (“As above”) to the name of the current Council Taxpayer in Part A.

There is no requirement for the form to be actually signed or for telephone numbers or email address to be included.

If it is not dated, the date of receipt by the LO is to be treated as the date of the proposal.

8. Part D – dwelling details

As stated, this part does not form part of the proposal for legal purposes. Failure to complete it does not make the proposal invalid.

Where a proposal can be accepted as validly made but it is “incomplete” because certain additional information is necessary or desirable, it should be obtained from the maker in writing. A copy of the form should accompany the LO’s letter but the original should be registered as a valid proposal in accordance with part 3, paragraph 3.1 and retained by the LO.

For circumstances & period when valid proposals can be made see Appendix 3:4.

Appendix 3.4: England - circumstances and periods in which valid proposals can be made

Event giving rise to Proposal

Billing Authority and Interested Person

1.

LO determined an incorrect band at compilation.

Now expired. Proposal had to be made within first 8 months of the List (i.e. by 30 November 1993).

2.

Material Increase and Relevant Transaction (See Section 2 Part 2 of this Manual)

May make a proposal at any time.

3.

Material reduction - ie

  • Demolition whole or part

  • Change to physical state of locality

  • Disabled person’s adaptations

May make a proposal at any time.

A proposal cannot be made if the demolition causing the “material reduction” is merely the precursor to other works being carried out in relation to the dwelling (Reg 3 (3))

4.

Dwelling comes into existence or ceases to exist (including becoming or ceasing to be composite).

May make a proposal at any time.

5.

Change in domestic use of a composite hereditament.

May make a proposal at any time.

6.

Insertion of an entry or disaggregation of dwelling applicable.

May make a proposal at any time.

7.

Deletion of an entry or disaggregation of dwelling not applicable.

May make a proposal at any time.

A proposal may not be made to challenge a LO’s decision to aggregate under Article 4 of the Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order 1992.

8.

Banding appears incorrect following a relevant VT or HC decision.

May make a proposal within six months from the date of the decision.

9.

LO has altered the List (other than to give effect to an agreement or a decision of the VT or HC, to alter a BA, BA Ref No, address or completion day or to correct a ‘clerical’ error).

May make a proposal within six months from the date of the alteration.

Interested Person only

10.

A person becomes the taxpayer for a dwelling.

May make a proposal within six months of becoming the taxpayer.

Appendix 3.5: England - service of documents by post

1. Interpretation Act 1978, Section 7

This states:

“7. Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be served by post (whether the expression “serve” or the expressions “give” or “send” or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.”

2. Practice direction - service of documents - First and Second Class Mail

“With effect from 16 April 1985 the Practice Direction issued on 30 July 1968 is hereby revoked and the following is substituted therefore.

  1. Under S7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 service by post is deemed to have been effected, unless the contrary has been proved, at the time when the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.

  2. To avoid uncertainty as to the date of service it will be taken (subject to proof to the contrary) that delivery in the ordinary course of post was effected:-

(a) in the case of first class mail, on the second working day after posting;

(b) in the case of second class mail, on the fourth working day after posting.

  1. “Working days” are Monday to Friday, excluding any band holiday.

  2. Affidavits of service shall state whether the document was dispatched by first or second class mail. If this information is omitted it will be assumed that second class mail was used.

  3. This direction is subject to the special provisions of RSC Order 10, rule 1(3) relating to the service of originating process.

8 March 1985

J R Bickford Smith Senior Master

** Queen’s Bench Division**

Appendix 3.7: England - rules of the Supreme Court - order 55

Cope Order 55

Rules of the supreme court

Appeals to high court from court, tribunal or person : general

Application (O.55, r.1)

  1. Subject to paragraphs (2) (3) and (4) this Order shall apply to every appeal which by or under any enactment lies to the High Court from any court, tribunal or person.

  2. This Order shall not apply to an appeal by case stated or to any appeal to which Order 73 applies.

  3. The following rules of this Order shall not apply to an appeal from a county court to a single judge under section 375 of the Insolvency Act 1986, but subject to the Insolvency Rules 1986, as amended, Order 59 shall, with the necessary modifications, apply to such an appeal as it applies to an appeal from a county court to the Court of Appeal.

  4. The following rules of this Order shall, in relation to an appeal to which this Order applies, have effect subject to any provision made in relation to that appeal by any other provision of these rules or by or under any enactment.

  5. In this Order references to a tribunal shall be construed as references to any tribunal constituted by or under any enactment other than any of the ordinary courts of law.

Amended by R.S.C. (Amendment No.1) 1968 (SI 1968 No. 1244) Insolvency (Amendment of Subordinate Legislation) Order (SI 1986 No.2001) and R.S.C. (Amendment No.3) 1989 (SI 1989 No.1307).

55/1/1 General effect of Order - This Order governs the procedure to be followed in relation to statutory appeals to the High Court from a judgment, order or decision of a Court, tribunal or person. Exceptions are appeals by way of case stated, which are dealt with by O.56, and appeals from the county court to a single Judge under s.375 of the Insolvency Act 1986 where O.59 is applied by virtue of rule 132 of the Bankruptcy Rules 1952, as amended by SI 1982 No.1437, save that the Chief Registrar in Bankruptcy exercises, for that purpose, the functions of the Registrar of Civil Appeals. Further, Rule 1(2) now makes clear that this Order does not apply to appeals in arbitration proceedings, these being governed by O.73. It is to be noted that the provisions of O.55 apply “subject to any provision made in relation to that appeal by any other provision of these rules or by or under any enactment”. Care must therefore be taken to examine the statutory basis of the appeal, and any relevant provisions of the Rules of the Supreme Court, since most statutory appeals will be thus affected. Examples are to be found in relation to appeals from the VAT Tribunal, which are affected by O.91 r.6, and appeals against decisions of auditors under the Local Government Finance Act 1982 which are affected by O.98. Moreover, in many instances appeals may be limited by the statutory provision creating the right appeal to points of law and thus the provisions of this Order concerning a rehearing will have no application - Green v The Minister of Housing and Local Government [1967] 2 Q.B.606.

55/1/2 Tribunals whose decisions may be the subject of an appeal under this order by way of a rehearing include the Statutory Committee of the Council of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, the Professional Conduct Committee of the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and the Licensed Conveyancers Discipline and Appeals Committee.

Court to hear appeal (O.55, r.2) Except where it is otherwise provided by these rules or by or under any enactment, an appeal to which this Order applies shall be assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division and shall be heard and determined –

(a) where the decision of the High Court on the appeal is final, by a Divisional Court,

(b) in any other case, by a single judge.

Substituted by R.S.C. (Amendment No.3) 1977 (SI 1977 No.1955).

55/2/1 Effect of Rule - The generality of this provision may be subject to exceptions provided elsewhere in the Rules of the Supreme Court, for example in appeals under section 289 or 290 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 governed by O.94, r.13 which provides that any such appeal shall be “heard and determined by a single judge unless the court directs that the matter shall be heard and determined by a Divisional Court”.

Bringing of appeal (O.55, r.3)

  1. An appeal to which this Order applies shall be by way of rehearing and must be brought by originating motion.

  2. Every notice of the motion by which such an appeal is brought must state the grounds of the appeal and if the appeal is against a judgment, order or other decision of a court, must state whether the appeal is against the whole or a part of that decision and, if against part only, must specify the part.

  3. The bringing of such an appeal shall not operate as a stay of proceedings on the judgment, determination or other decisions against which the appeal is brought unless the Court by which the appeal is to be heard or the court, tribunal or person by which or by whom the decision was given so orders.

55/3/1 Powers - As to the Courts’ powers to conduct the appeal by way of rehearing, see the cautionary note at 55/1/1.

55/3/2 Procedure - The grounds of appeal should state the reasons why it is contended that the decision impugned is wrong and it is not sufficient merely to set out the conclusions which the Court will be invited to reach. It is to be noted that only where the appeal is against the judgment, order or other decision of a Court, need the notice of motion state whether the appeal is against the whole or part of the decision. If a stay is sought under r.3(3) application should be made by motion on two days notice.

Service of notice of motion and entry of appeal (O.55, r.4)

  1. The persons to be served with notice of the motion by which an appeal to which this Order applies is brought are the following :-

(a) if the appeal is against a judgment, order or other decision of a court, the registrar or clerk of the court and any party to the proceedings in which the decision was given is directly affected by the appeal;

(b) if the appeal is against an order, determination, award or other decision of a tribunal, Minister of the Crown, government department or other person, the chairman of the tribunal, Minister, government department or person, as the case may be, and every party to the proceedings (other than the appellant) in which the decision appealed against was given.

  1. The notice must be served, and the appeal entered, within 28 days after the date of the judgment, order, determination or other decision against which the appeal is brought.

  2. In the case of an appeal against a judgment, order or decision of a court, the period specified in paragraph 2 shall be calculated from the date on which the decision was given.

  3. In the case of an appeal against an order, determination, award or other decision of a tribunal, Minister, government department or other person, the period specified in paragraph 2 shall be calculated from the date on which the notice of the decision, or, in the case where a statement of the reasons for a decision was given later than such notice, on which such a statement was given to the appellant by the person who made the decision or by a person authorised in that behalf to do so.

Amended by R.S.C. (Amendment No.2) 1982 (SI 1982 No.1111).

55/4/1 Procedure - It appears to be uncertain whether a decision or reasons are “given” to an appellant within the meaning of r.4(4) when sent to him or when received by him - see Ringroad Investment Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment 1970 40 P. & C.R.99 and the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Griffiths and Another v Secretary of State for the Environment and Another, The Times January 28 1982. Although Griffiths was also considered by the House of Lords, [1983] 2 A.C.51, the House’s consideration of the difficulty appears to have been limited to appeals under S.245 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. An application under O.3, r.5 to extend the period of 28 days may be made by summons supported by affidavit.

It seems likely, however, that in calculating the period regard should be had to the date on which the decision letter was received - see Smith v Secretary of State for the Environment, The Times July 6 1987 considered in Ynys Môn Borough Council v Secretary of State for Wales [1992] C.O.D. 410 {Rose J}. In this latter case the court emphasised that it was the duty of legal advisers either to know or to discover the law and it should not follow that their ignorance of relevant time limits should attract judicial dispensation. Moreover when there would be prejudice to the respondent and there was no substantive and valid reason for exercising the discretion conferred by O.3 r.5 an application for extension of time would be refused.

In the absence of agreement, the court would normally need to be satisfied that there was an acceptable explanation for the delay before extending time. Even where such an explanation was forthcoming the court might still refuse to extend time if the delay was substantial or when to do so would cause significant prejudice to the respondent. In the interests of good administration public law challenges to decisions of tribunals had to be made within limited time scales (a consideration which was absent in ordinary inter partes litigation) and the courts would always be reluctant to extend time in such situations: Regnibourne Ltd v East Lindsey District Council [1993] C.O.D. 297 (Sir Thomas Bingham M.R., Kennedy and Evans L.JJ. dismissing an appeal from the decision of Potts J. [1992] C.O.D.493).

A notice of motion, by which the appeal is brought is entered in the Crown Office, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, together with two copies and a fee of £70. Cheques should be made payable to HM Paymaster General. For the hearing of the appeal, the Court will require three paginated bundles comprising copies of :-

  • an index

  • the notice of motion

  • the decision appealed

  • any affidavits filed

  • any other relevant documents

Date of hearing of appeal (O.55, r.5)

Unless the Court having jurisdiction to determine the appeal otherwise directs, an appeal to which this Order applies shall not be heard sooner than 21 days after service of notice of the motion by which the appeal is brought.

55/5/1 Uncontested appeals - Where the parties are agreed as to the terms on which an appeal can be disposed of and require an order of the Court to put them into effect the practice described in Practice Direction (Crown Office List: Uncontested Proceedings) [1982] 1 W.L.R. 979 should be followed.

Amendment of grounds of appeal, etc. (O.55, r.6)

The notice of the motion by which an appeal to which this Order applies is brought may be amended by the appellant, without leave, by supplementary notice served not less than 7 days before the day appointed for the hearing of the appeal, on each of the persons on whom the notice to be amended was served.

Within 2 days after service of a supplementary notice under paragraph 1 the appellant must lodge two copies in the office in which the appeal is entered.

Except with the leave of the Court hearing any such appeal, no grounds other than those stated in the notice of the motion by which the appeal is brought or any supplementary notice under paragraph 1 may be relied upon by the appellant at the hearing; but the Court may amend the grounds so stated or make any other order, on such terms as it thinks just, to ensure the determination on the merits of the real question in controversy between the parties.

The foregoing provisions of this rule are without prejudice to the powers of the Court under Order 20.

55/6

  1. The notice of the motion by which an appeal to which this Order applies is brought may be amended by the appellant, without leave, by supplementary notice served not less than 7 days before the day appointed for the hearing of the appeal, on each of the persons on whom the notice to be amended was served.

  2. Within 2 days after service of a supplementary notice under paragraph 1 the appellant must lodge two copies in the office in which the appeal is entered.

  3. Except with the leave of the Court hearing any such appeal, no grounds other than those stated in the notice of the motion by which the appeal is brought or any supplementary notice under paragraph 1 may be relied upon by the appellant at the hearing; but the Court may amend the grounds so stated or make any other order, on such terms as it thinks just, to ensure the determination on the merits of the real question in controversy between the parties.

  4. The foregoing provisions of this rule are without prejudice to the powers of the Court under Order 20.

Interlocutory applications (O.55, r.6A)

  1. Unless the Court otherwise directs, any interlocutory application in proceedings to which this Order applies may be made to any Judge or a Master of the Queen’s Bench Division or, as the case may be, any Judge or a Registrar of the Family Division, notwithstanding that the appeal has been brought by motion and is to be heard by a Divisional Court.

  2. In this paragraph “interlocutory application” includes an application for the extension of time for the service of the notice of motion or the entry of the appeal or for the amendment of the notice of motion.

  3. In relation to an order made by a Master of Registrar pursuant to paragraph 1, Order 58, rule 1 shall, where the appeal is to be heard by a Divisional Court, have effect as if a reference to that Court were substituted for the reference to a Judge in chambers.

  4. This rule is without prejudice to any statutory provision or rule of law restricting the making of an order against the Crown.

Added by R.S.C. (Amendment) 1987 (SI 1987 No.1423).

Powers of Court hearing appeal (O.55, r.7)

  1. In addition to the power conferred by rule 6(3) the Court hearing an appeal to which this Order applies shall have the powers conferred by the following provisions of this rule.

  2. The Court shall have power to receive further evidence on questions of fact, and the evidence may be given in such manner as the Court may direct either by oral examination in Court, by affidavit, by deposition taken before an examiner or in some other manner.

  3. The Court shall have power to draw any inferences of fact which might have been drawn in the proceedings out of which the appeal arose.

  4. It shall be the duty of the appellant to apply to the Judge or other person presiding at the proceedings in which the decision appealed against was given for a signed copy of any note made by him of the proceedings and to furnish that copy for the use of the Court; and in default of production of such a note, or if such note is incomplete, in addition to such note, the Court may hear and determine the appeal on any other evidence or statement of what occurred in those proceedings as appears to the Court to be sufficient.

Except where the Court otherwise directs, an affidavit or note by a person present at the proceedings shall not be used in evidence under this paragraph unless it was previously submitted to the person presiding at the proceedings for his comments.

  1. The Court may give any judgment or decision or make any order which ought to have been given or made by the Court, tribunal or person and make such further or other order as the case may require or may remit the matter with the opinion of the Court for rehearing and determination by it or him.

  2. The Court may, in special circumstances, order that such security shall be given for the costs of the appeal as may be just.

  3. The Court shall not be bound to allow the appeal on the ground merely of misdirection, or of the improper admission or rejection of the evidence, unless in the opinion of the Court substantial wrong or miscarriage has been thereby occasioned.

Amended, R.S.C. (Amendment No.1) 1968 (SI 1968 No.1244).

55/71 Power of Court to receive further evidence r.7(2) - In Smith v Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain C.O. 1065/85, December 10, 1986: (unrep.), the Divisional Court declined to receive evidence as to the conduct of the appellant since the hearing before the Statutory Committee because it could not be relevant to the decision of the Committee which was made in the light of the evidence before it. However in Hefferon v Committee of the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, The Independent, March 11, 1988, the Divisional Court applying Stock v Central Midwives Board [1915] 3 K.B. 756 received further evidence from an expert witness as to the effect which an inoculation administered in error might have since that had been an issue at the hearing. “Where there has been an opinion expressed or an assertion of relevant fact made in the course of that hearing, as revealed in the transcript of evidence given, in my judgment, it is competent for this Court to receive in its discretion fresh evidence going to that expression of opinion or that assertion of fact,” per Watkins L.J.

The power to receive further evidence may be disapplied by operation of some other rule, see for example O.101, r,4(6) which governs appeals under the Pensions Appeal Tribunal Act 1943, and which was considered by Drake J. in Rivett v Secretary for Social Services [1990] C.O.D.479.

In relation to an appeal under s.289 of the Town and Planning Act 1990, which is on a point of law, the High Court should not receive evidence unless it is argued that the inspector had not properly summarised, or had disregarded, some material evidence. Clarke v Secretary of State for the Home Environment [1993] C.O.D. 80, {Fox, Glidewell L.JJ. and Boreham J., C.A.}.

As to the exercise of the Court’s discretion under r.7(7) see Botton v Secretary of State for the Environment and the London Borough of Bromley [1992] C.O.D. 249 {Roch J.} and P G Vallance Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment. The Independent. November 19, 1992 {Henry J.}.

55/7/2 Other powers of Court - In considering the provisions of O.55 r.7(7), in a case involving an allegation of dishonesty, it was appropriate to apply the test for deciding whether to invoke the proviso to s.2 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968, namely whether the disciplinary committee must inevitably have found the dishonesty proved: per Simon Brown J. in Crabtree v United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting [1990] C.O.D.277.

In an appeal against a decision of the Statutory Committee of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the function of the Court was not to impose its own view in substitution for the Committee’s view unless it concluded that the Committee’s decision was plainly wrong or that the Committee had misdirected itself in reaching its conclusion: Thobani v Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain [1990] C.O.D.279 {Watkins L.J. and Nolan J.}.

Right of Minister, etc, to appear and be heard (O.55, r.8)

Where an appeal to which this Order applies is against an order, determination or other decision of a Minister of the Crown or government department, the Minister or department, as the case may be, shall be entitled to appear and be heard in the proceedings on the appeal.

Appendix 3.8: England - appeal report

Divisional Case

Council Tax

Appeal report

Appeal to High Court by *Listing Officer *Occupier *Owner *Billing Authority

Date of VT Decision *
Date of service of copy of Notice of motion or of VT decision (as appropriate) *
Time expires (underline in RED ink if imminent) *
CT Unit *
Full Name of Listing Officer *
Listing Officer's Address, telephone number and fax number *
Billing Authority *
Maker of Proposal *
Date of Proposal *
Name of Valuation Tribunal *
Date of Decision *
1 Address of Dwelling *
2 Name of Occupier *
3 Name of Owner (if different) *
4 Name, address and telephone number of representative acting in respect of the appeal (state whether solicitor or surveyor) *
5a Band in List at date of proposal *
5b Band proposed by proposal *
5c Band contended for by LO at VT hearing *
5d Band decided by VT *
6 Attitude of Billing Authority (state whether the Billing Authority appeared as party to the proceedings before the VT and if so, their attitude to the present appeal and whether they intend to appear as party in the case if this information is known) *
7 Conduct of other party's case (any information known as to probable representation of the other side) *
8 Listing Officer's Report (This part must be completed, even though a memorandum of evidence accompanies this appeal report. State concisely the facts of the case and the issues involved. If an appeal by the LO is intended the reasons should be stated. Full details of all comparables, PDs and other property information relied upon should be supplied. Where relevant, eg a disaggregation/aggregation case, the treatment of the dwelling(s) for the 1973 Valuation List should be described  

Appendix 3.9: England - VT presentation for invalidity appeals

Initial Introductions

My name is … … … … … … ….

I am appearing as an advocate for the Listing Officer, being duly authorised* to do so by [name] the Listing Officer for [name of billing authority].

[* ensure that the written authorisation is taken to the VT hearing]

Introduce any other VOA staff and other parties present.

The purpose of the appeal

This appeal concerns a proposal made on [date] seeking to reduce the Council Tax Band in respect of [address].

However, the substantive point to be determined by the valuation tribunal today concerns the validity of that proposal. I shall be addressing the tribunal on the legal requirements for a valid proposal and how they need to be satisfied.

Accordingly, at this hearing I shall not be looking at the banding of this property, bringing evidence of value or of entries in the Council Tax List. Such matters may be determined once the validity, or otherwise, of the proposal is determined.

It is my contention before the tribunal today that this proposal is not validly made as it does not comply with legal requirements that govern the administration of Council Tax.

This legislation is principally contained in the Council Tax (Alterations of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009 [Statutory Instrument 2009/2270] and I have included the relevant part of the legislation at appendix *.

My detailed reason[s] for this assertion is [are] as follows:

[Caseworker can choose the relevant (parts of) cases 1 - 5 for case presentation]

Case 1: Where the restricted circumstances for making proposals are not satisfied:

Regulation 3 is headed ‘Restrictions on alteration of valuation bands’, and Regulation 4 has the heading ‘Circumstances and periods in which proposals may be made’.

The whole tenor of the legislation dictates that there are limited circumstances in which proposals can be made. If one seeks to make a proposal outside these specific circumstances, it will not be valid and no further action can be taken in respect of it.

Regulation 4 sets out circumstances and periods in which proposals may be made. The relevant part of the legislation may be paraphrased as follows:

(Choose the relevant part of the legislation)

Regulation 4(1)

Under 4(1) Proposals can be made

(a) Where a dwelling is shown in the list which ought not to be shown.

(b) Where the list fails to show a dwelling which ought to be shown.

(c) Where the listing officer has determined a valuation band incorrectly.

(d) Since the band was first shown in the list there has been:

A material increase and relevant transaction

A material reduction (i.e. demolition of whole or part, change in the physical state of a dwelling’s locality, or works involving adaptations for the disabled (S24(10) LGFA1992). Where a material reduction is wholly due to demolition of part, the band shall not be altered if the works of demolition are part of, or connected with, a building, engineering or other operation carried out, in progress, or proposed to be carried out in relation to the dwelling”.

In other words, if a demolition occurs simply as a precursor to carrying out an improvement, no alteration to the List is to be made.

Dwelling has ceased to be a composite

Increase or reduction in domestic use in a composite

(e) Account has not been taken of a relevant VTE or High Court decision, and a band change is necessary. Under Reg 4(2) such a proposal must be made within six months of the date of decision.

Regulation 4(3)

“Subject to paragraph (4) and regulation 7(3)(a), where, in relation to a dwelling shown in a list [compiled under section 22 or 22A of the Act] on the day on which it is compiled, a billing authority or an interested person is of the opinion that the list is inaccurate because the LO has determined as applicable to a dwelling a valuation band other than that which should have been determined as so applicable, any proposal for the alteration of the list as regards that matter must be made not later than the end of the period of six months beginning on the day on which the list is compiled”.

…In other words, any person or body that was an interested person at the date the List was compiled (1st April 1993) had until 30th November 1993 to make a proposal. For the proposal in question the maker of the proposal was an interested person as at the date the list was compiled and so this proposal is out of time, and is therefore invalid.

[NB. This is likely to apply in a considerable number of cases.]

Regulation 4(4)

Paraphrasing Regulation 4(4), when a person becomes a new taxpayer in respect of a particular dwelling they may make a proposal. However, under Regulation 4(5) this opportunity ceases to exist:

(a) where six months has expired since becoming the taxpayer, or

(b) where a proposal has been considered for the same dwelling under the same facts by a VTE or the High Court

Sub-paragraphs (c) to (f) of Regulation 4(5) relate to the rare situations concerning companies and partnerships.

…The proposal was received on //. The maker of the proposal became the taxpayer on //, * years/months previously. As a consequence this proposal does not meet the requirements of this regulation and so the proposal is invalid.

Regulations 4(6) & 4(7)

Paraphrasing Regulation 4(6), a billing authority or an interested person may make a proposal against a list alteration by the listing officer within six months of the service of the notice of alteration, seeking either or both of the following:

(a) the restoration of the list to its state before the alteration was made,

(b) a further alteration of the list in respect of that dwelling.

However, under Regulation 4(7), this does not apply if the alteration in question:

(a) consists of –

(i) the insertion or alteration of a reference number,

(ii) the alteration of an address,

(iii) the correction of a clerical error, or

(iv) the entry of the day from which an alteration has effect where the day is the completion day determined under Schedule 4A in relation to the dwelling concerned; or

(b) reflects a change in the area of the billing authority or the decision of a valuation tribunal or the High Court in relation to the dwelling concerned.

…The proposal in question was received *months / years after the list alteration took place and so is therefore invalid/the alteration was for a matter mentioned in Regulation 4(7) and so is therefore invalid.

Case 2: Where the Proposal has not been made in the prescribed manner:

Paraphrasing Regulation 5(1), it requires that a proposal shall be made in writing, served on the listing officer and:

(a) state the name, address and capacity of the proposer;

(b) identify the dwelling;

(c) identify in what respect the list is to be altered; and

(d) include:

(i) a statement of the reasons for believing the list to be inaccurate;

(ii) [for a Regulation 4(1)(d) proposal] - a statement of the reasons for the belief that an event mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (1) of regulation 4 has occurred [see list of bullet points in case (b,) above], and of the date on which the event occurred.

(iii) [for a Regulation 4(1)(e) proposal]- a statement identifying the property to which the decision relates, the date of decision and whether it was by the valuation tribunal or the High Court.

(iv) [for a Regulation 4(4) proposal] - the date the proposer became the taxpayer

(v) [for a proposal disputing the accuracy of a LO alteration] - the date of that alteration.

(vi) [for a proposal disputing the effective date] - an alternative date.

…The proposal in question has not been made in the prescribed manner because, specifically, it did not include *. Therefore, the proposal is invalid.

Case 3: Where the maker of the proposal is not an Interested Person under the regulations:

  • Under Regulation 4(1), only “Interested Persons” have the right to make a proposal. In the current case the person who signed the document does not qualify as an interested person.

  • Regulation 2 defines “interested person” as ‘the owner’ [Regulation 2(1)(a)] or ‘any other person who is the taxpayer’ [Regulation 2(1)(d)].

  • Regulation 2 also states that, “’taxpayer’ in relation to a dwelling … means the person who is liable (whether solely or jointly and severally) to pay council tax in respect of the dwelling …”.

NB. Taxpayers can include former owners who have been served with a bill for an historic period of occupation and are liable in respect of a day, though now they may neither be owners or occupier. But only if they have been served with a bill, otherwise they are not an interested person]

Only after this “interested persons” requirement has been satisfied, can one proceed any further.

In this particular case there is no Interested Person as defined in the Regulations and therefore a valid proposal cannot have been made.

Case 4: Where a Material Reduction proposal relates to a disputed physical change:

(NB As a general policy, a proposal may be accepted as valid where any local physical change has occurred and that has been identified on the proposal. The proposer only has to be of the opinion that the list is inaccurate and such a change has caused a material reduction in the value of the dwelling. Whether there has been such a material reduction is a matter of valuation, rather than a validity issue.)

Material Reduction:

“Material Reduction” in relation to the value of a dwelling is defined in section 24(10) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as “any reduction which is caused (in whole or in part) by the demolition of any part of the dwelling, any change in the physical state of the dwelling’s locality or any adaptation of the dwelling to make it suitable for use by a physically disabled person;”.

Effectively, there are 3 elements to this.

(1) the demolition of any part of the dwelling

(2) any change in the physical state of the dwelling’s locality

(3) any adaptations of the dwelling to make it suitable for use by a physically disabled person.

It is only point (2) that is relevant in this context.

Under Regulation 5 (1)(d)(ii), the proposer must include a statement of the reasons for belief that a material reduction has occurred. Where this involves a physical change, it must be identified. Whether that physical change is in fact value significant or band significant cannot be determined at the point of receipt.

The phrase ‘state of the dwelling’s locality’ should be taken to imply something fixed and permanent, not something that is subject to daily or weekly change.

There are two elements to consider:

Has there been a ‘change in the physical state’?

Is it within ‘the dwelling’s locality’?

Change in the physical state

In essence, ‘a change in the physical state’ means a change in the physical landscape, buildings or infrastructure, and could include, for example, new telephone masts or pylons, new or widened roads, and new or extended buildings. An intensification of an exiting use (e.g. an increase in the volume of traffic) does not in my view, constitute a ‘change in the physical state’, but permanent alterations to a road layout would be a ‘change in the physical state’.

The dwelling’s locality…the dwelling’s locality

What constitutes the dwelling’s locality will be a matter of fact and degree. In general, the smaller the ‘change in the physical state’, the smaller the locality within which it might have a value impact. An extension to 5 Acacia Avenue is a ‘change in the physical state’ and is clearly in the ‘locality’ of 3 Acacia Avenue, but is not likely to be in the ‘locality’ of 123 Acacia Avenue. A new sewage works close to Acacia Avenue is also a ‘change in the physical state’ and would most likely be perceived as being in the locality of all of Acacia Avenue (and beyond).

Unlike rating legislation, there is no reference in CT regulations to matters that are physically manifest in the locality and the two concepts should not be confused.

An intensification of an existing use of a building, for example a factory making more noise than before or a road creating greater impact on amenity, may well be physically manifest in the locality, but they have not affected the physical state of the locality. As such they might affect a non domestic valuation, but cannot be taken into account in Council Tax. The word ‘matters’ is not used at all in the Council Tax legislation, only the phrase ‘physical state’. If it were the intention of Parliament that the same factors should be taken into account for Council Tax the regulations would not have been drawn up in different terms.

The whole tenor of the CT regulations concerning alteration of the list is couched in restrictive terms, not inclusive terms. Hence the heading, “Restriction on alteration of valuation bands”, applied to Regulation 3, which includes the definition of ‘material reduction’.

What might constitute a physical change to the locality giving rise to a valid proposal?

There will be thousands of possibilities, but the following illustrative examples may help:

The placing of a lamp post where there was not one before, and the bright light affecting the enjoyment of the dwelling – valid. This is a physical change (and whilst not likely to be value significant cannot be determined as invalid at receipt stage)

The moving of a lamp post a few feet – invalid. This might not considered to be a change to the locality, as there was a lamp post in the locality before.

Increase in traffic and factors associated therewith –invalid, not considered to be a physical change.

The completion of a new road layout close to the boundary of the property – valid

The completion of a Nuclear Power Station, say a half a mile (or more) from the property – valid. It would be difficult to argue that a change of that scale would not be considered to affect values in a quite a wide locality.

The above examples are purely illustrative, not prescriptive. The concept of locality cannot be interpreted as a purely geographical distance, as illustrated by the power station example. The size and scale of a physical change will influence how wide the ‘locality’ is within which it will have a value effect. A small change, therefore, will be value significant in a small locality, whereas a major change could well have impact over a greater distance.

Any change in the physical state, has to be considered in terms of market conditions at the AVD of 1 April 1991. Whether such changes affect value to the extent that a band reduction should be made will depend on the evidence. What is perceived to have an effect on value today, may not have been relevant at the AVD.

…The reasons for my view that the circumstances do not constitute a physical change to the dwelling’s locality are ….(LO to relate issues specific to property- facts of case etc)

Case 5: Where the proposal seeks to reflect land contamination which is not a ‘material reduction’ case:

(where knowledge of degree of contamination has come to light well after the construction of the dwellings, and where no physical change to dwelling’s locality has taken place. Each case will be different and only the main headings are given below)

Caseworker will outline the physical description and history of each individual case-

The description of the property – present nature of the contamination.

The history, how it came to be in the soil, the date at which contamination occurred.

The circumstances of the new development, dates and knowledge at the time of the history of the site.

Evidence of effect of contamination at AVD as evidenced in sales prices

Circumstances of more recent investigation of contamination, evidence of recent change of knowledge.

Evidence of no change to physical state of dwelling’s locality. Unchanged physical environment.

Outline the ‘material reduction’ regulation as above in its three elements only.

Helpful paragraphs:-

…The question to be answered is, ‘Has a material reduction actually occurred according to the regulations?’ Has there been a change in the physical state of the dwelling’s locality since AVD? (or since the dwelling was entered into the list). The answer is that in this case the physical locality is actually unchanged.

…When one walks round the estate, there is no physical change visible which could support the contention that a valid material reduction proposal can be made. (describe circumstances etc…)

…What has changed is market perception as at date of proposal.

…In consequence, the circumstances do not fit into the circumstances of ‘material reduction’. The change has been a change of knowledge, not a physical change in the state of the dwelling’s locality. Since AVD the locality has not changed. The contamination pre-existed the construction of the dwelling. This does not, unfortunately, qualify the proposal as a valid under the material reduction provisions.

…The fact that a reduction in value may have occurred does not in itself make the proposal valid, the reduction has to be caused by one of the three factors in the regulations, i.e. demolition, a change in physical state of a dwelling’s locality or disabled adaptations.

Unfortunately the restrictive nature of the CT regulations does not allow a band reduction to be considered in these circumstances. Such a change would have to wait until a general revaluation before it could be properly reflected.

Previous decisions:

…The matter has been considered twice by VT’s recently and I would refer the tribunal to a decision of the Surrey VT dated 13th February 2006 concerning a property in Dorking and a decision of the Buckinghamshire VT dated 19th March 2007 concerning a case in Amersham, (appeal number 0410396951/162C/1

1. …Validity of proposal was the main issue as a primary consideration in a test case in Surrey in which the LO was represented by HMRC Solicitor was referred to. The Tribunal was held in November 2005 and the final decision was not published till mid February 2006, following requests from both parties to amend the decision to correctly report factual evidence given at the hearing. The Surrey VT held that the proposal was invalid, thus upholding the LO’s arguments. Briefly these are that the change in knowledge following the publication of the council’s contamination reports and any effect on property value, do not constitute a “material reduction” in value under CT legislation because no physical change to the dwelling’s locality has occurred, as required by S24(10) LGFA1992. No appeal has been received against this decision. The Appeal number is 362037828/154C/6.

The address of the appeal property 1 Durleston Park Drive, Great Bookham, Leatherhead, Surrey KT23 4AJ.

2. The second Buckinghamshire VT decision again confirmed the correct approach on this difficult issue. The proposal was held to be invalid as a material reduction had not taken place. There had been no actual change in the physical state of the dwelling’s locality, owing to the pre-existing historic nature of the contamination. The only change was the state of knowledge that had more recently affected the market. The decision is dated 19th March on appeal number 0410396951/162C/1.

The property was 144 Lent Rise, Burnham, Slough, SL1 7BH.

This case concerned contamination under the surface of the ground which was alleged to have crept towards the surface over the years, though whether this had or had not happened could not be established.