Council Tax Manual

Section 3: Wales - proposals and appeals

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

Part 1: receipt of proposals - Wales

1.0 Legislation

Legislation for Wales held in Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 290 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regulations – SI 1993/290

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 on invalidity.

1.2 Proposal form

Making proposals: 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 Council Tax Manual (CTM) Section 1 Part 1 paragraph 1.6.

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 mandatory nor does this sheet form part of the proposal for legal purposes. A set of guidance notes (VO7455GN) has also been produced and must be made to available to taxpayers, their agents and other IPs. The guidance notes are pre-printed and ordered from an external supplier.

Before issue, 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.

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 (See Appendix 3.3)

Electronic proposals: The Council Tax Internet Valuation List (IVL) application, which is accessed through Directgov 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 (see paragraph 1.11 below). This form is of a slightly different design, but must be accepted as a proposal. At present this does not include an equivalent of Part D of VO7455.

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

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 the forms, 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.

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

Welsh Language: LOs and BAs in Wales hold supplies of bilingual forms only, in English on one side and Welsh on the other. The facility exists to enable the completion of the forms either in Welsh or in English.

1.3 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 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.

1.4 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. Further information on enquiries and band reviews can be found on the CT & HA homepage

1.5 Rights of billing authorities and interested persons to make proposals

Regulation 5 of SI 1993/290 (Wales) 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 IPs and new taxpayers, have the right in certain circumstances to make proposals for dwellings they own or occupy. In addition, BAs 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 VT 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.

1.6 Former contractors

Reference is made in Section 1, part 2, paragraph 2.1 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 referred 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 also be referred to the Council Tax Policy, Process and Assurance Team.

1.7 “Reincarnated proposals” (proposals arising following withdrawals)

An application under Reg 19 (procedures) can reinstate a withdrawn proposal.

The 1993 Regulations provide that IPs and other persons (including BAs) who would have been competent to make the proposal may “opt in” to being a party to the proceedings in respect of that proposal. To “opt in” the person has to serve written notice on the LO within three months of the day on which the proposal was served on the LO.

Once a person has “opted in” they have certain rights, but these rights vary depending on the status of the person.

i) Where that person would have been competent to make the proposal, they have the right to be a party to any agreement, to agree or not to agree to the withdrawal of the proposal, and to appear at a VT hearing.

ii) Where the person is an IP, the LO must serve notice of withdrawal using VO7724 if the proposal is withdrawn prior to transmission to the VT.

iii) There is an additional right for an IP who would also have been competent to make the proposal to take it over if it is withdrawn prior to transmission to the VT.

The IP who is aggrieved by the withdrawal of the proposal must indicate this when writing to the LO. This has the effect of the proposal being “re-incarnated” as being made on the same terms as the original, but on the day on which the notice was served. However, the effective date will be that which applied to the original proposal.

VO7724 gives opportunity to IPs who wish to “re-incarnate” a proposal to state that they are aggrieved with the withdrawal of the proposal. If this wording is not used in the letter from the IP but it clear that they wish to keep the matters contained in the withdrawn proposal alive, their correspondence should be treated as a valid notice.

Any notice must be served on the LO within six weeks of the date of the VO7724. If a notice is served on the LO after this time, the IP should be advised that it is out of time. No further action is to be taken on the matter.

Any notice received within the six week period should be attached to a blank proposal form and registered within the Council Tax application as a new proposal made in the same terms as the original one, but made on the day on which the notice was served on the LO.

1.8 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, provided 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).

1.9 Listing Officers not to alter proposals

Proposal forms Parts A – C, including documents purporting to be proposals, are documents with a legal status. They must not, 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”.

1.10 Service of proposals on Listing Officers by post

A completed proposal must be served on the LO responsible 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.

1.11 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 00:02 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 in paragraph 1.12 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.

1.12 Proposal forms sent to wrong locations

If the subject dwelling is dealt with at another location within the 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 site 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.

1.13 Initial procedures

On receipt of a completed form, (including a 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).

1.14 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 (ie 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.

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

1.16 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 - Wales

Legislation for Wales held in Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 290 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regulations – SI 1993/290

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

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 paragraph 1.3 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 Regulation 5 of the 1993 Alteration of Lists and Appeals Regulations (SI 1993/290) for Wales.

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 proposal form in accordance with paragraph Section 3 part 1 paragraph 1.15.

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 to 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 s6(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.

Under Reg 6 (1)(d) and point (ii) (Wales), 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 “V” in Wales is overwritten with “I” 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, he/she must serve a notice on the proposer under Reg 8(1) (Wales) 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.

The notice of invalidity accompanies letter VO7735 (2005.) or 7735 (2007) which must be completed as appropriate and issued in all circumstances. This must be accompanied by letter VO7734 (0407) or 7734 (web 0407) which is a non-statutory letter that explains the situation in more general terms. The VO 7734 has paragraphs relating to registering a CR15. If this is not the case, these paragraphs must be removed. These letters are not system generated and must be created using word templates.

Copies of both letters should be stapled to the original document and the working docket. The date of the VO7735 may be entered on the working docket as the date acknowledged. The letters are also to be stored in EDRM.

2.5 Schedules of invalid proposals

Hardcopies of the Invalid Proposal should be stored in a binder and a CS1 enquiry report should be undertaken on a weekly basis to monitor those still outstanding.

2.6 No response to notice of invalidity

If there is no response within 28 calendar days of the service of a Notice of Invalidity, the LO should send letter VO7718 from MS Word Template (paragraphs to be deleted if no CR15 registered) notifying the appellant that the appeal is deemed to have been withdrawn. The service date should be calculated in accordance with Appendix 3.6. A copy of the letter should be attached to the existing correspondence (and a copy stored in EDRM) and the appeal withdrawn on the computer using settlement code ‘N’ - Invalidity Notice withdrawn.

A LO report (CR15) should be requested in accordance with section 2, part 1 paragraph 1.3 if this has not already been carried out.

2.7 Appeal against notice of invalidity

If a disagreement against the Notice of Invalidity is received, it should be acknowledged and linked to the existing papers. This is normally in the form of a letter addressed to the LO from the appellant and is to be treated as a disagreement. The date of receipt of a disagreement must be immediately input into the CDB in the field ‘Disag Rec’d Date’.

Following the receipt of a disagreement, the LO has a further 28 calendar days to review the question of the validity by considering any additional information given.

2.8 Receipt of fresh proposal

On the rare occasion where a fresh proposal is received in response to a Notice of Invalidity, the original proposal is deemed to have been withdrawn. The CDB record for the invalid proposal should be closed using settlement code ‘N’. The fresh proposal will need to be considered for validity on its own merits. The withdrawn invalid proposal and copy correspondence should be kept with the fresh proposal.

2.9 Original proposal now considered valid

When the LO has reviewed the validity and now considers that the appeal is valid (i.e. withdraws the Notice of Invalidity), the invalid case should be cleared on the system using settlement code ‘J’ - appeal decision - valid.

A fresh case for the valid proposal should be registered in accordance with Section 3 part 3, with the date of the LO’s decision to treat it as valid being 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.

VO7740 from MS Word Template advises that the proposal is now being treated as valid and should be sent to the appellant. This 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 paragraph 3.6.

An acknowledgement letter VO7852 will be output automatically for the valid proposal. This is not required and should be destroyed; the acknowledgement is included in the VO7740. The working docket for the now valid proposal should be endorsed with the date of the VO7734 (0407) or 7734 (web) 0407 (letter to accompany Notice of Invalidity) as the date of acknowledgement.

2.10 Original proposal considered invalid

When the LO has reviewed the validity and still considers that the proposal is invalid (i.e. does not withdraw the Notice of Invalidity) a letter VO7739 from MS Word Template should be sent to the appellant. A copy should be kept with the papers and all papers placed in a plastic wallet.

The appeal will be automatically included in the next scheduled transmission to the VT as soon as the ‘Disag Rec’d Date’ is input. Copies of the following must be forwarded:-

i) the originating proposal form/letter; ii) the LO’s Notice of Invalidity (VO7735); iii) the appeal against the Notice of Invalidity; iv) any acknowledgement of the appeal.

At the same time, the LO should arrange for a LO Report (VO 7452) to be raised in accordance with Section 2 part 1, and added to the case papers if this has not been carried out. This will allow the caseworker to review the band at the same time as discussing the validity with the appellant and can often result in the appeal being withdrawn.

2.11 Activity codes

Activity Codes are fully described in the CT Mini Work Aid, which can be accessed, via a link from the CT & HA Homepage. The use of activity codes is equally as important for invalid appeals as for valid appeals.

2.12 Settlement without Valuation Tribunal hearing

If the appellant withdraws the appeal, the case should be cleared in the Council Tax application using settlement code ‘I’ - appeal decision - invalid. The clearance will be automatically included in the next VT transmission if the appeal has been transmitted. It is recommended that the appellant is asked to complete a standard withdrawal form VO 7480 (if the appeal has not yet been transmitted to the VT) or VO 7481. See Section 3 part 3 paragraph 3.16.

A review of the band should then be carried out if this has not already taken place. The papers relating to the invalid appeal should be kept with the LO Report.

If the LO, having transmitted the papers, decides that the appeal is valid after all, the case should be cleared on the CDB using settlement code ‘J’. The clearance will be automatically included in the next VT transmission. A fresh case for a valid appeal should then be created in accordance with Section 3 part 3.

2.13 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 specific circumstances applicable to each case.

2.14 Settlement by Valuation Tribunal decision

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

When the decision is that the appeal proposal 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 the 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 up to listing by Valuation Tribunals - Wales

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

3.1 Registration of valid proposals – Wales

Legislation for Wales is held in Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 290 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regulations – SI 1993/290

Once a proposal has been checked for completeness and validity, and coded in accordance with the CT Mini Work Aid, it should be input to 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 (Code CA20) 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 is to procedurally withdraw the proposal and re-register it linked to the correct address. 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 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 agent’s’ details are recorded under a standard naming convention.

This is provided in the current list of agents’ details, 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 and proposal acknowledgement letters should be requested from the CDB. Owing to the limitations of the application, it is not normally possible for these to be output on the same day as registration. However, if required, they can be output on the same day from the CDB by accessing ‘generate working dockets and acknowledgement letters’ and selecting by case number.

The documents which will be output to hardcopy are the working docket (VO 7456), and the acknowledgement letter VO7852.

Documents should be checked against the proposal. Any errors arising from input should be highlighted with the correction required shown in red on the appropriate document. These errors should then be corrected on the CDB.

Where incorrect details are shown on the acknowledgement letter, the generated letter should be destroyed and a replacement obtained from MS Word Template.

There is normally no need to keep an office copy of the acknowledgement letter, but, if it is unusual in any way, a copy should be saved in EDRM. Computer-generated copy acknowledgement letters should be destroyed as restricted waste.

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 Copying of proposals

Copies of proposals may be required in accordance with paragraph 3.4 and/or paragraph 3.5 below.

The Valuation Tribunal will also require a copy if the appeal proceeds to a hearing. Some Tribunals require a copy as soon as the papers have been transmitted, and some immediately prior to listing. There is no longer any requirement to make these copies at registration stage unless it is deemed to be more efficient. All copies should be made using the photocopier.

3.4 Serving copies of proposals on taxpayers

When a proposal has been made by an IP who is not the taxpayer for the dwelling (e.g. the owner of rented accommodation) or the BA, it is necessary to let the taxpayer have a copy.

The copy must be accompanied by a letter VO 7713 from MS Word Template. A copy must be stored in EDRM.

Copies to taxpayers must be served within six weeks of receipt.

The date of the transmission of a copy, and the initials of the person who prepared it, should be entered on the working docket in the space against “Date copy IPP sent”.

3.5 Serving copies of proposals on billing authorities

If a BA has served notice on the LO that it wishes to receive “copies of a class or classes of proposals” under Reg 9(1)(b), it will be necessary to provide copies within six weeks of their receipt. Copies should, however, be forwarded to the BA in weekly batches, accompanied by a compliment slip.

3.6 Casing-up procedures

The case papers, ie proposal, working docket VO (7456) and any copy letter(s), should be placed in a plastic wallet.

If the proposal challenges a LO notification, a copy of that notification should be included with the case papers.

If the proposal has resulted from previous enquiry correspondence, a note indicating this should be included in the case papers.

The case should then be passed to the designated caseworker.

3.7 Dealing with proposals

It is essential that proposals are dealt with in a speedy manner, particularly in view of the VOA’s target to provide a “considered view” within 60 days, and to settle cases or have them “ready for hearing” within six months of receipt.

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.

3.8 Supplying a “considered decision”

If a proposal is not to be treated as well-founded, the VOA is currently charged with providing the appellant with a “considered view” of the proposal in all instances within 60 days of the proposal being received. Activity Code 40 is the appropriate code to validate that this has happened (see paragraph 3.9 below).

When a proposal is treated as valid, the VOA is currently charged with investigating the banding and issuing a considered decision within two months. A review of the list entry might consist of checking:

(i) Inspection Support Data – A useful CDB tool which gives details of the current and immediately preceding 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) Sales Evidence – The main sources of domestic sales around the AVD can be obtained from PT domestic enquiries on the CDB.

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

(iv) Comparable Selection Tool outputs - 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 there use and any access must be in accordance with the policy on VOA use of public websites

3.9 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.

3.10 Giving effect to well-founded proposals

Where the LO agrees with the change to the CT List entry as proposed and all the necessary alterations, e.g. to address or effective date, are shown, this proposal should be treated as “well-founded”. It is not necessary for the agreement procedure to be followed and instead, under Regulation 10, the LO must serve notice on the appellant and on the current taxpayer (if different) and then alter the list.

Caseworkers should always consider whether it is possible to use the well-founded procedure before issuing agreement forms.

The well-founded procedure can be used at any time right up to an actual VT hearing. Guidance on this point has been confirmed by the Solicitor’s Office of the Board of Inland Revenue. Reg 19(1) of SI1993/290 (which Regulation, by its very terms, can only come into play after a proposal has been referred as an appeal to the VT), gives the LO the right to withdraw a proposal from the VT.

This right is subject only to Reg 19(2) which requires the written consent of every other party to the withdrawal. This in turn is subject to Reg 19(3) which provides for Reg 19(2) not to apply when the List is to be altered in accordance with the proposal. When this is invoked, it is essential that the VT is informed of the procedural withdrawal of the appeal to enable their database to be updated.

Using the well-founded procedure could, however, disadvantage a person who is not the appellant but is nevertheless a “competent person” who has opted-in under Reg 12(2)(e). In such instances, in order that a person is not disadvantaged, the agreement procedure should be used rather than the well-founded procedure and the agreement sought of the person who has opted-in.

Having treated a proposal as well-founded, the caseworker should complete the working docket and the case passed for clearance. Activity Code 40 should be input into the CDB.

The case should be cleared on the CDB by inputting the relevant details. The revised entry will then appear automatically in the next Schedule of Alterations.

Letter VO 7736 should be obtained from MS Word Template with the relevant paragraphs completed. Using this text is mandatory. The date to be included as the date the proposal is well-founded must be the date of the letter in all instances. VO 7736s must be signed by the LO personally, by the on-site team leader, or by a caseworker or above who has been personally nominated by the LO to sign agreements on his/her behalf. The letter should be issued to the appellant immediately and copied to any other person who appears to be the taxpayer for the dwelling. A copy should be kept with the case papers. The date of the letter should be input to the computer for Activity Code 40 purposes.

For proposals considered as well-founded within three months of receipt see paragraph 3.22 below.

3.11 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.

3.12 Discussions with proposers / appellants

During the discussion, the proposer/appellant 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/appellant may provide details in documentary form, eg sales particulars. Whenever possible, the caseworker should borrow them, photocopy relevant information and subsequently immediately return the original(s) by post. It is essential that all the issues raised by the proposer/appellant in the original challenge, and subsequent discussions, are covered when supplying the considered decision.

The caseworker should aim to achieve agreement/withdrawal when on site. If a formal offer to agree or withdraw is made, Activity Code 40 is appropriate and should be input immediately on return to the office. Details of the offer must be recorded clearly on the CTVS or in Case Remarks within the IT application for audit/validation purposes.

Code 40 is recorded on case activity on CDB and shows that an offer has been made. The details are recorded on the CTVS.

3.13 Discussions with other parties

Following discussion and/or settlement with the proposer/appellant, it will be necessary on occasions to enter into discussions with other parties who have rights to be a party to an agreement or withdrawal or who have opted-in. These are detailed in paragraphs 3.17 and 3.20 below. Such discussions should always be conducted in a similar manner.

3.14 Using notices before listing by Valuation Tribunals

The authority to issue Notices is contained in S.27 (2) of LGFA 92. Detailed instructions are given in Section 3 part 4. Where the LO is in possession of Notices, they may be quoted when discussing a proposal at any stage prior to a VT Hearing.

Information from Particulars Delivered (PD)/SDLT data can be used in evidence under Reg 26(3) of SI 1993/290 but the LO must comply with the requirement to serve a Notice under that Regulation (see Section 3 part 4). PD/SDLT information can be used at any stage after an appeal has been transmitted to the VT. Any difficulty with appellants over the confidentiality of PD /SDLT information should be dealt with tactfully. It should be explained that this is personal information which should not be divulged without the consent of the parties except after an appeal has been transmitted to the VT.

The use of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) forms is currently subject to discussions and the SDLT Office, as these are not specifically covered by Reg 26. If a LO feels it is necessary to use information contained in a SDLT form advice MUST be taken from the CT Technical Adviser.

3.15 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

3.16 Withdrawals

Reg 11 provides for withdrawals before transmission to the VT and Reg 19 provides for withdrawals before the commencement of VT hearings.

Two non-statutory forms have been designed and should be used wherever possible. They are available from MS Word Template:

  • VO 7480 - for use when the Proposal has not yet been transmitted as an appeal
  • VO 7481 - for use when the appeal has been transmitted to the VT

If a withdrawal is received in the form of a letter, it should be attached to a withdrawal form which should be marked “see letter attached”.

Suitable standard paragraphs for use when forwarding a withdrawal form to the appellant are included as part of letter VO 7730.

3.17 Parties to withdrawals

A proposal may be withdrawn prior to transmission to the VT, provided the written signatures of the following are obtained to comply with Reg11:-

  • the proposer
  • the taxpayer at date of withdrawal. (This person’s agreement is only required where the proposer submitted the proposal in the capacity of taxpayer but is no longer the taxpayer.)

Where more than one person is the taxpayer at the date of withdrawal, the withdrawal of one of them is to be treated as a withdrawal by all of them (Reg 11(2)).

If the dwelling is unoccupied the owner is deemed to be the taxpayer and his/her signature is required.

If the present taxpayer declines to agree in writing to the withdrawal of a proposal made by a previous taxpayer, the withdrawal cannot take effect. In such circumstances, the case will have to be transmitted to the VT, and, very likely, heard.

A proposal may be withdrawn after transmission to the VT provided the signatures of all the parties to the appeal other than the LO are obtained. These are:-

  • the appellant
  • the taxpayer at date of appeal
  • the taxpayer at date of withdrawal
  • 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 that they wish to be party to the proceedings (“opted-in”)

Further information on the opting-in procedure is given in Appendix 3.6.

3.18 Giving effect to withdrawals

When the LO has received a withdrawal from a proposer/ appellant (and, if the appeal was made by a former taxpayer, the concurrence of the current taxpayer has been received), the caseworker should complete the details required on the CTVS and the working docket, and pass the papers for clearance on the CDB, using the appropriate settlement code. The date to be input is the date of receipt of the signed withdrawal.

Accordingly, it is important that the signed withdrawal form is date-stamped on receipt. When a withdrawal form is signed at the time of a caseworker’s visit to a property, it must be date-stamped when the caseworker returns, using the date the signature was obtained as the date of receipt. On occasion, it may be necessary to temporarily reset the date stamp in order to do this.

There is no requirement to notify the BA that a proposal has been withdrawn. For retention of papers, see paragraph 3.26 below.

3.19 Agreements

Regulation 12 and Regulation 19(3) provide for settlements by agreement.

The agreement forms are available from MS Word Template in five versions - one for each type of agreement. These correspond with the tick boxes on the pre-printed version and are numbered:-

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 Historical Entry(ies); i.e. where the entry or entries being altered are not the current ones; for example, 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. In these circumstances, the agreement on the original proposal will be in respect of an historic entry rather than a current entry

The same format as the pre-printed version is used for each, but any wording which relates to other types of agreement is excluded.

An invitation to agree letter (Appendix 3.10) may be used when sending out an agreement form for signature. When the offer made in the agreement form is the LO’s final decision on the case, the optional paragraph in the letter MUST be included.

3.20 Parties to agreements

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 12 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.

Any requirement for the BA’s signature would have been decided on initial registration of the appeal and the BA would be shown as a party to the appeal on the CT appeal parties sheet VO 7458.

3.21 Appeals agreed or treated as well-founded within three months of receipt

A person who would have been “competent” to make the appeal (which includes the BA) has three months from the day the proposal was received by the LO to serve a notice stating that they wish to be party to the proceedings.

Accordingly where a proposal is agreed within three months of receipt, due to the possibility that a notice may be received from a “competent” person, the LO should not alter the List within that period. This will ensure that the rights of such a person are protected. In these circumstances, when writing to the appellant enclosing agreement forms, the optional paragraph which commences with “In order to comply with legal requirements……” must be inserted in letter VO7764. It is also imperative that letter VO7731 is issued to the appellant in accordance with Section 2 Part 4 paragraph 4.7 when the List is finally altered.

If no-one has become a party to the proceedings by the end of this period, the List can be altered. If the statutory six-week period, within which the LO is otherwise required to alter the List, expires before the end of the 3-month period, the alteration must be made as soon as practicable after the end of the 3-month period.

If, however, between the date of the agreement and the end of the 3-month period a competent person serves a notice, then their written agreement will be necessary before effect can be given to an alteration to the List which has already been agreed with the other parties. If no agreement is forthcoming the appeal will have to be settled by VT decision.

Waiting for the end of the three-month period should not delay the progressing of the agreement form and obtaining the signatures which are known to be needed, including that of the LO. When all the known signatures have been obtained, the papers should be retained in a special binder which should be set up for this purpose. Sub-divisions should be set up for each relevant date of Schedules generation (obtained from the Calendar of Overnight Generations) and the agreed appeal added to the relevant sub-division. The binder should be examined the day before each generation is due, and settlements which are to be included should be input to the Application (see paragraph 3.23 below). Any appeals decided by the VT within three months of receipt should be incorporated into this binder.

There will be instances, however, when it will be possible to “take the risk” and alter the List in advance of the end of any three-month period. This will be most likely when there is no intention of selling the appeal property AND the property is owner/occupied AND the BA does not as a rule opt-in to CT procedures. The caseworker is best placed to advise on the first two of these situations. In such instances, the optional sentence referred to above should NOT be included.

If a “competent” person opts in after the List has been altered, it will be necessary to undo the agreement in the CT List and seek the agreement of this person before restoring or changing the amendment.

3.22 Giving effect to agreements

When the agreement has been signed by all other parties, the caseworker must ensure that it is signed by, or on behalf of, the LO and dated. Agreement forms must be signed by the LO personally, by the on-site team leader, or by a 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 (but see paragraph 3.22 above where the settlement is within three months of receipt of the appeal). The generation dates of Schedules are shown on the Calendar of Overnight Batch Generations 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 paragraph 3.26 below.

3.23 Transmission to Valuation Tribunals

It is the LO’s duty to ensure that an appeal to the VT is constituted by the transmission of a statement where:-

i) the LO is unable to treat a proposal as well-founded; or

ii) the proposal has not been withdrawn and there has been no settlement by agreement; or

iii) a proposal has been withdrawn but there is an outstanding notice which means that it is to be treated as an appeal made by an interested person.

Regulation 13 requires that a proposal is transmitted to the VT within six months. In order to comply with a request from the Valuation Tribunal Service for earlier transmission, the computer application has been set so that all transmissions are automatically made after 30 calendar days. This cannot be delayed or advanced.

Transmissions are carried out by means of a central overnight transfer between the VOA and the VT computer systems. Transfers are set up using the scheduling tool and carried out on a weekly basis.

The appeal statement is incorporated into the VO7705 acknowledgement letter. There is therefore no requirement to notify the appellant that the proposal has been transmitted to the Valuation Tribunal.

At any point in time when it is requested, and in all instances before the hearing, a photocopy of the appeal should be made (see paragraph 3.3 above) and forwarded to the VT.

3.24 Agreeing the factual basis of the case

At present the LO is charged with agreeing the factual basis of the case within six months of the receipt of the originating proposal so that the case is “ready for hearing”. This will normally amount to a discussion between the taxpayer and the LO’s caseworker when certain facts, such as the features of the dwelling, can be agreed, and the points in contention, which the VT will be asked to decide, are clarified.

When this action has been completed, Activity Code 50 must be input immediately into the CDB. It is the caseworker’s responsibility to ensure that this is carried out.

It is essential that input of Code 50 information is made promptly as this Activity Code is fundamental in establishing the VOA’s performance against the requirement for cases to be “settled or ready for hearing” within six months. It should be noted that “ready for hearing” does not mean that all VT presentation packs are prepared, but that the items agreed and items in dispute are clear between the parties.

3.25 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. Current information on consequentials can be found via a link from the CT & HA homepage.

If there is a proposal outstanding for one of these dwellings, this should be settled following the above procedures.

If there is no proposal/appeal outstanding and an alteration to the banding is clearly warranted, a LO report should be raised and dealt with in accordance with Section 2.

3.26 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. These identify the correct processes that should be undertaken when dealing with all Council Tax casework.

3.27 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, what to call them, where to save them and how to protectively mark them can be found via a link from The EDRM Homepage.

Part 4: Valid appeals after listing by Valuation Tribunals – Wales

Legislation for Wales held in Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 290 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regulations – SI 1993/290

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

4.1 Introduction

The following points apply to all appeals to VTs :-

i) an appeal cannot arise other than from a dispute stemming from a proposal;

ii) the appellant is the person who made the proposal, or is deemed to have appealed, but the procedures do not place the burden of proof on the appellant in all cases;

iii) in legal terminology the appeal arises on the transmission by the LO to the VT of data relating to a proposal. No notice of appeal is required to be given by the appellant;

iv) an appeal may be settled by withdrawal at any time prior to a determination by the VT (Reg 11), and in this context agreement reached between the parties constitutes a withdrawal (Reg 12);

v) the VT 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;

vi) the parties to an appeal may appear at the VT hearing without giving notice of their intention to appear.

4.2 Scope of appeals

As no notice to appear is required to be given by an appellant to the VT, the scope of an appeal is determined only by the terms of the relevant proposal.

Regulation 29 allows a VT to increase a banding. 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 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.

As a VT 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 enquiry or the contention before it.

Regulation 18 states the following:-

i) “It shall be the duty of the president of a valuation tribunal to secure that arrangements are made for appeals to be determined in accordance with the following provisions of these Regulations.

ii) A tribunal shall not hear an appeal under Regulation 13 until any appeal under Regulation 8 (invalid proposals) in respect of the same proposal has been determined.

iii) Where two or more appeals relating to the same dwelling are referred under Regulation 13, the order in which the appeals are dealt with shall be the order in which the alteration in question would, but for the disagreements which occasion the appeals, have taken effect.”

The procedural aspects of all appeals are similar but the LO needs to be clear as to the subject matter of the appeal and prepare the case accordingly. It is possible that two types of hearing may be consecutive or in some cases concurrent, particularly when cases regarding validity and alteration of the List itself are involved.

4.3 Liaison with Valuation Tribunals

If a VT requests a copy of the LO’s caseworker statements, which will show all outstanding appeals including those not yet referred to the VT, the LO should comply.

If a LO deals with two or more VT areas, no attempt should be made to isolate those cases not dealt with by the requesting VT.

4.4 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 26 (VO7408d) MUST have been served.

Information from PD and SDLT data can be used in evidence under Reg 26 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 26(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.

4.5 Serving S.27 notices

S.27 Notices (VO 7402) have been designed to obtain two types of related information:

i) price, interest and date of sale; i.e. confirmation of details shown on the PD or included in the SDLT data;

ii) details of any fixtures, etc included in the sale and whether any alterations or major repairs have been carried out since the sale (i.e. details not available from the PD or SDL:T data), which assist in determining the state of the dwelling when it was sold and what, if any, fixtures were included.

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 from the Head of CT Technical to ensure the Notice and covering letter meet with the statutory requirement. An example of where a S.27 Notice 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.

4.6 Information which may be used as evidence

Regulation 26 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/VO referring to a Notice recently made and giving additional information in relation to that specific notice/return.

At VT 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 VT procedures.

The initiative in using documents under Reg 26 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

4.7 Regulation 26 notices

The Regulation 26 Notice is contained in form VO 7408D from MS Word Template together with the schedule of documents VO 7409 and its continuation sheet (VO7473), both 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 26 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.

If any person to whom a VO 7408d notice has been given challenges the validity of the notice, the LO should seek adjournment of the VT hearing and refer the matter, together with full details, to the Technical Adviser

4.8 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 26 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 26 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 26(3).

Once a Notice under Reg 26(3) 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 26(3) notice first, rather than seek to include this information as part of the agreed statement of facts.

4.9 Regulation 26(3) notices

So that documents containing information may be used in evidence, Reg 26(3) 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.

Regulation 26(3) 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 26(3) Notice (VO7408D) a Schedule of the sales (VO7409). 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 VT 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 only refer 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 maybe 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 Reg 26(3) 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.

4.10 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 26(3) may serve a counter-notice under Reg 26(4), 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 26 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 VT 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 26 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 26(4) does not extend to inspecting, nor 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 26 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.

4.11 Documents to be produced following counter-notices

The right to serve a counter-notice refers to “any document” containing information to which Reg 26 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 26 applies.

No time limit is prescribed in Reg 26(4) 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 VT 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 26(4), 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.

Regulation 26(4) (a) refers to documents “in the possession of the LO”. LOs should act reasonably in the interpretation of this phrase considering it 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 and 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 26 Notice.

Regulation 26(4) requires the dwellings specified in the counter-notice to be “comparable in character or otherwise relevant to that person’s case”.

Regulation 26(6) 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 VT.

4.12 Failure to comply with counter-notices

Where the LO has refused, or failed, to comply with a Reg 26(4) counter-notice, the person who served the notice may apply to the VT 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 (TA), including reasons why it is thought the provisions of Reg 26(6) 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 TA 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 TA should be informed.

4.13 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. See also paragraph 4.38 v) below.

4.14 Imperfect documents

Regulation 26 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 VT or to the person to whom the document is produced for inspection.

4.15 Increasing bandings of proposal / 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 proposal/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 VT, i.e. without waiting for the appeal to be heard by the VT. 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 VT, 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 VT 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 proposals. It is likely, however, that the VT 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 VT agrees, the decision will take effect from the date the List is altered in respect of that decision.

4.16 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.

4.15 Notices of hearings

Regulation 22 provides for the Clerk to the VT to give at least four weeks’ 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.

4.18 Pre-hearing reviews

Regulation 21 provides for a pre-hearing review. Under these provisions the Chairman, on the application of a party, or on their own initiative, gives at least four weeks’ notice of a pre-hearing review. The objective is to secure that all parties make such admissions and agreements as ought reasonably to be made by them relative to the proceedings.

This type of hearing, particularly in complex cases, gives the opportunity for the VT to tell the parties what facts and admissions should be made before a substantive hearing can start.

An application by a LO for a pre-hearing review must be made with discretion. Such an application should only be made in circumstances which would result in the actual hearing being dealt with more quickly or in the issues being clarified.

4.19 Preparing documentation for hearings

A series of forms has been prepared to assist caseworkers in preparing the documentation for a VT hearing. Using a common and familiar style of documentation helps VT 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 package of forms can be produced from the VOA central database by using menu option 1 within the Appeal Package. This facility has been produced primarily for the defence of the 2005 List in Wales but works for all Lists and for all BAs in both England and Wales.

Full operating instructions are given in the “Valuation Tribunal Presentation Package and Section 26 Notice”. These are included in the process maps (link in 4.7 above)

4.20 Council Tax Valuation Sheets (CTVS)

A CTVS is completed as an appeal is settled. A completed CTVS is stored within EDRM. For more detail on Council Tax Valuation Sheets refer to Section 3 Part 3.

4.21 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 suffices, supported by appropriate evidence. Where a dwelling clearly falls within a band, this is all that needs to be established to show the VT that the band is correct. A valuation only needs to be shown where the LO’s opinion of value is close to a band margin and is in dispute.

4.22 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 or Notice.

For the 2005 Revaluation ‘Bibles‘ were created for each locality with relevant sales and key property sheets included. These are retained in hardcopy, in four ring binders, within the Unit.

4.23 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 VT to compare the main points easily in summary format.

4.24 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.

4.25 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 VT documentation and allows the caseworker to refer to sheet x or sheet y. The boxes have no significance outside the VT 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) VT members (usually three)

ii) Clerk to the VT

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.

###4.26 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 VO 7408D. 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 VT 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.

4.27 Disposal by written representations

Under the legislation which remains applicable to Wales, Regulation 20 (1) of SI 1993/290 states that:-

“an appeal may be disposed of on the basis of written representations if all the parties have given their agreement in writing.”

It is not considered that this method of dealing with an appeal should normally be followed because an oral hearing will enable all parties to argue their case more fully and to test the evidence presented to the VT. Some unrepresented appellants could be disadvantaged by having to present formal written submissions, although others may find it easier to put their contentions in writing rather than orally.

Written representations differ from written submissions.

In the case of a written submission, the appellant may present a case in writing rather than appear at a hearing of the VT, and the LO should not object. The LO will present his/her case in person.

Written representations must follow the procedures set out in Reg 20, and the appeal will be determined without an oral hearing, but only if all sides agree.

If all parties agree to proceed on the basis of written representations, the Clerk will serve notice, and, within four weeks, each party shall serve notice on the Clerk stating:-

i) any further reasons for the disagreement giving rise to the appeal

ii) that it is not intended to make further representation

There is a further period of four weeks for each party to serve a reply to the other party’s statement if they wish to do so. The VT can require any party to furnish more particulars of the grounds relied on and any relevant facts or contentions. Each party then has four weeks to supply that information.

The VT can order that the appeal be ’disposed of’, i.e. heard, on the basis of a hearing having read the submissions of the parties.

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 and disaggregation

It is not considered appropriate to consent to written representations on the grounds that the appellant will 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 TA for prior approval, who will also offer advice and guidance on the preparation of written notices if it considered appropriate to dispose of the appeal in this way.

4.28 Settlement by withdrawal

Regulation 19 allows for an appeal to be withdrawn before the start of a hearing. This is formally made by notice from the LO to the VT. This can only be done where every party to the appeal (except the LO) has given consent in writing to the LO, preferably by using form VO 7481.

The notice to the VT will automatically be included in the next VT transmission following input. When this is not possible before the hearing, because of the short period following receipt of the signed form, the LO should take it to the hearing, unless other arrangements have been agreed locally.

4.29 Settlement by agreement

Although there is a statutory requirement under Reg 19 for the VT to be notified that an appeal has been settled, there is no requirement for the LO to supply a copy of any agreement form. If the VT insists that copies are supplied, this should be complied with. When an agreement form has been signed in accordance with part 3 paragraph 3.21, the working docket should be completed and the casepapers passed for action in accordance with part 3 paragraph 3.23 above. Details of the agreement will automatically be included in the next VT transmission.

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 VT 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 TA 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.

Regulation 24 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 VT may act as a representative for a party.

The LO may delegate the duty of conducting appeals to EO caseworkers or above. Whenever possible, the LO in person, 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 VT. If an important point of principle is likely to arise, a report, together with the casepapers, should be sent to the TA at an early stage. If the TA considers that legal representation is advisable, a submission should be made to the Head of CT Technical. Special instructions will then be given.

4.30 Appearing at hearings

A person’s entitlement to appear, and be heard, is a matter solely for a VT 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 VT and at all times 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 VT).

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

4.32 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 VT.

Unless the VT determines otherwise, on the hearing of an appeal under Reg 8 or arising from a List alteration, the LO shall begin the hearing, and in any other case parties may be heard in such order as the VT may require.

When preparing a presentation, a LO should be mindful of the fact that he/she may be required to open the proceedings.

4.33 Non-appearance of entitled parties

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

In the absence of a person who is entitled to appear, the VT may proceed on the assumption that that 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 VT should be so informed. The LO may ask the VT to dismiss the appeal if the appellant does not appear, but should be prepared to briefly deal with the grounds of the appeal.

4.34 Conduct of cases

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

VOA staff must ensure that there is no undue liaison with the VT 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 will conduct the case before the hearing. If inspection is considered 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 VT that an inspection has been refused and, if the circumstances warrant, the caseworker should ask the VT to adjourn the hearing. No attempt should be made to emphasise the uncooperative 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 VT 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 VT will be governed by any rules prescribed by the VT and the nature of the case. The caseworker should disclose all material evidence, and the VT 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 VT procedures.

Although privilege can be claimed in respect of statements made at a VT hearing, a caseworker should avoid making denigrating remarks (eg 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 TA.

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.

4.35 Hearings in public

A VT 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 VT 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.

4.36 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 VT, a copy is retained, or the VT asked to make a copy.

4.37 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 caseworker representing the LO as a witness before a VT 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 VT to deal with the two aspects of the appeal separately. This becomes more difficult if the VT requires evidence on oath (or affirmation) and in such a case, the LO must be guided by the Chairperson.

4.38 Giving evidence

VTs are 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. No rules have been prescribed which must be observed, but the VT may have prescribed its own rules which must be observed.

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 VT.

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 VT 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 VT 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 VT’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 the 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

VTs are 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 VT will itself decide on the admissibility of any hearsay evidence submitted and the weight to be attached to it.

vii) Limitation of evidence

A VT 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.

4.39 Evidence on oath

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

If the VT 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.

4.40 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 VT decision could be challenged by way of a judicial review (and the appeal set aside or re-heard) if the VT 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 VT 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 VT, 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.

4.41 Inspection of dwellings by Valuation Tribunals

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

If the VT 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.

The VT has no legal power of entry in this connection and formal notice of inspection cannot be used.

4.42 Decisions of Valuation Tribunals

Regulation 28 states that an appeal may be decided by a majority of the VT members present. Where, in accordance with Reg 25(2), an appeal has to be disposed of by two members and they are unable to agree, it shall be remitted by the Clerk to be decided by a VT consisting of three different members.

The decision may be given orally 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.

Regulation 29 provides that on or after the VT has decided an appeal, the LO must alter the List in accordance with that decision within six weeks 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 VT decision is received, the caseworker should endorse the working docket with details of the decision and then pass the file to caseworker support for case clearance in accordance with Section 3 part 3.

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.

4.43 Reviews of decisions

Regulation 30 states that a review of a VT decision can be requested by any party to the appeal. An application must be in writing and can only be made on one or more of the following grounds:-

i) the decision was wrongly made as a result of a clerical error;

ii) one or more of the parties did not appear and can give a reasonable explanation why they did not do so;

iii) the decision is affected by a decision of, or on appeal from, the High Court, in respect of the dwelling which was the subject of the VT’s decision.

It is not possible to make an application for a review where an appeal against the VT’s decision has been determined by the High Court.

An application for a review may be dismissed if it is not made within four weeks beginning on the day on which notice of the decision in question was received.

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

A LO can only make an application under i) above. Where ii) or iii) applies, a copy of the decision with an explanation must be forwarded to the TA for approval before proceeding.

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 VT 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 to comply with Reg 34.

If a VT sets aside its decision, any order made in consequence of that decision will be revoked and the VT will order a re-hearing or a re-determination before either the same or different members.

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

4.44 Disposal of hardcopy VT agendas

Hardcopy agendas, if printed, can be disposed of as restricted waste. This does not apply to VT 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.

4.45 Reinstatement of cases

There may be an occasion when the VT 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 VT decision is revoked and an appeal reopened. They have been agreed between the VOA and the VTS.

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

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

4.46 Listing Officer processes to reinstate

On receipt of a request from the VT, the appeal must be reinstated with its original CT case number on the VOA central database 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 VT as a reinstatement.

Where the original VT 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.

4.47 Subsequent action on reinstated cases

Following transmission, the VT will proceed to deal with the reinstated appeal in the usual way.

Part 5: appeals to the High Court - Wales

Legislation for Wales is held in Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 290 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regulations – SI 1993/290. This legislation was also applicable to England prior to October 2009.

5.1 Introduction

An appeal against a VT 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 VT wrongly interpreted the valuation evidence, and/or law, in arriving at its decision.

An appeal is heard in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court. All cases are classed as “divisional”, and therefore administered at CEO, as they 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 VT. 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 32 (Wales) provides that an appeal may be dismissed by the HC if it is not made within four weeks from the day the applicant received notice of the decision in question.

Regulation 30 (Wales) makes provision for a VT 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:-

i) the determination that the VT will not undertake a review ii) the determination of the VT not to set aside the decision in question iii) the issue of a certificate reviewing the original decision iv) 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 VT.

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 VT. A copy must be served on the Chairman to the VT and on each party to the proceedings.

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 VT decision.

5.6 Listing Officer as party

As the hearing will concern legal argument only, it is unlikely that fresh expert evidence will 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 VT 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 VT 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 TA immediately. A memorandum of evidence, a copy of the proposal, a copy of the VT 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 TA.

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 VT 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 VT 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 VO 7456 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 HC appeal, the LO should notify the Head of CT Technical and the TA 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. Further information on consequentials can be accessed from the CT& HA homepage.

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

Appendix 3.2: Wales - 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 6 of SI 1993/290 refers to the manner of making proposals and the information to be included in such a proposal. This states:-

6.—(1) A proposal shall be made by notice in writing served on the listing officer; and the notice shall—

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

(b)identify the dwelling to which it relates;

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

(d)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 5(1)(d), a statement of the reasons for the belief that an event mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (1) of regulation 4 has occurred, and of the date on which the event occurred;

(iii)if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 5(1)(e), a statement identifying the property to which the decision in question relates and the date of that decision and that the decision was a decision of the valuation tribunal or, as the case may be, the High Court;

(iv)if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 5(4), 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 listing officer, a statement of the day on which the listing officer served the relevant notice under regulation 15;

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

(2) A proposal may deal with more than one dwelling—

(a)in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 5(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 5 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 5. 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 simply be 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, ie 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, however, 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.

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 simply be 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, ie 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, however, 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: Wales - basic requirements for a valid proposal

Part A – Details of dwelling and occupation

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

In the case where a person

  • becomes a taxpayer, or
  • in the case of a new dwelling

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.

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

NB This requirement is not mandatory in other cases.

4. Valuation List reference number

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

5.0 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.

The date of issue of the LON must be given. If this date is more than six months from the date of receipt of the form, or if, on investigation, it transpires that a LON was not issued on that date, the proposal should be treated as invalid. This is self-explanatory.

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. There is no requirement to obtain documentary proof. If the date shown in Part A is more than six months from the date of receipt of the form, the proposal should be treated as invalid. This too is self-explanatory.

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.

Example

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.

Example

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 The 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 6.

Example

A house is divided into 6 bedsits, each of which is banded. 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.

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

Example

A house consists of a main dwelling and a “granny” annexe, but has one band for the whole. The owner/taxpayer wishes to have 2 bands on the dwelling, one for the main dwelling and one on the “granny” annex.

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.

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 decision of a Valuation Tribunal or the High Court

The date of the decision, whether it was made by a VT or the HC and the address(es) of the dwelling(s) concerned. must be given in box 2. If this information is omitted, the proposal should be treated as invalid.

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 an proposal must state the capacity of the maker (eg 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 nor 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: Wales - 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.

Wales: Now expired. Proposal had to be made within the first 8 months of the List (i.e. by 30 November 2005)

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 4(2)).

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: Wales - 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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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 3.6: Wales - opting in

  1. Regulations 11(3) and 12(2)(e) provide that interested persons (IPs) and persons, including Billing Authorities, who would have been competent to make an appeal may opt in to be a party to the proceedings in respect of an appeal.

  2. An IP will not have been competent to make an appeal where it is a new taxpayer appeal under Regulation 5(4).

  3. To opt in the person has to serve written notice on the Listing Officer (LO) within three months of the day on which the proposal was served on the LO. Once a person has opted in, they have certain rights but these rights vary depending on the status of the person. The rights are:-

a) Where the person would have been competent to make the appeal. The right to be a party to any agreement. The right to agree or not to agree to any withdrawal after transmission to the VT. The right to appear at a VT hearing.
b) Where the person is an IP and the appeal is withdrawn prior to transmission to the VT but after the opting in notice is served. The LO must serve notice of the withdrawal on the IP.
c) Where the person is not only an IP but also would have been competent to make the proposal. An additional right to, in effect, take over the appeal if it is withdrawal before transmission to the VT but after the opting in notice is served.
  1. Where an appeal is withdrawn before transmission to the VT and a notice has been served by an IP, under Regulation 11(3) that IP must be notified of the withdrawal. If the IP would have been competent to make the appeal then letter VO 7724 from MS Word Template should be used.

In those limited number of cases where the IP who has served a notice under Regulation 11(3) could not have made the appeal, the optional paragraph in VO 7724 should not be used.

No time limit is specified in the Regulations for the service of a notice of withdrawal but it should be served immediately after the withdrawal is received from the appellant.

  1. An IP who would have been competent to make the original appeal (ie receives a letter VO 7724) has the right to serve a notice on the LO that he or she “is aggrieved by the withdrawal of the proposal”. This has the effect of the appeal being “re-incarnated” as if the notice had been an appeal made on the same terms as the original one and made on the day on which the notice was served. The effective date for any alteration will however be the effective date which would have applied to the original appeal.

  2. VO 7724 encourages persons who wish to “re-incarnate” an appeal to refer to it and state that they are “aggrieved by the withdrawal of the proposal”. If this wording is not used in the letter from the IP but it is clear that they wish to keep the matters contained in the withdrawn appeal alive, the correspondence should be treated as a valid notice under Regulation 11(4).

  3. All notices under Regulation 11(4) must be served on the LO within six weeks from the Regulation 11(3) notice. Where a notice is served on the LO after this period the IP should be advised that it is out of time and no further action is to be taken on the matter.

  4. Any notice received within the statutory time limit should be attached to a blank appeal form and registered on the computer as if it were a new appeal made in the same terms as the original (now withdrawn) appeal but for procedural purposes made on the day on which the Regulation 11(4) notice was served.

In the event that this appeal results in a transmission to the VT, a copy of the VO 7724 and the Regulation 11(4) notice together with a copy of the original appeal should be forwarded to the VT before the hearing.

  1. Regulation 11(3) does not apply to appeals which have been transmitted to the VT. There is therefore no requirement for the LO to serve a withdrawal of appeal notice in accordance with Regulation 11(3). Regulation 19 requires all the parties to an appeal which has been transmitted to the VT, except the LO, to consent to a withdrawal and this will include an IP who was competent to make the proposal and such IPs will therefore already have consented to the withdrawal.

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

Copy Order 55

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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 :-

a an index;
b the notice of motion;
c the decision appealed;
d any affidavits filed;
e 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)

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. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
5. 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.
6. The Court may, in special circumstances, order that such security shall be given for the costs of the appeal as may be just.
7. 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: Wales - 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: Wales - 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. Accordingly, 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) Regulations 1993 [Statutory Instrument 1993/290] 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 part(s) (a-e) for case presentation]

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

Regulation 4 is headed ‘Restrictions on alteration of valuation bands’, and Regulation 5 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 5 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 5(1)

Under 5(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 VT or High Court decision, and a band change is necessary. Under Reg 5(2) such a proposal must be made within six months of the date of decision.

Regulation 5(3)

Subject to paragraph (4) and regulation 8(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 mentioned in paragraph (1) by reason of the matter mentioned in sub-paragraph (c), any proposal for the alteration of the list [that list] as regards that matter must be made not later than 30th November 1993.

…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 5(4)

Paraphrasing Regulation 5(4), when a person becomes a new taxpayer in respect of a particular dwelling they may make a proposal. However, under Regulation 5(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 VT or the High Court

Sub-paragraphs (c) to (f) of Regulation 5(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 5(6) & 5(7)

Paraphrasing Regulation 5(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 5(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 5 (7) and so is therefore invalid.

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

Paraphrasing Regulation 6(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 5(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 5(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 5(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 5(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 6 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

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 4, 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 2003. 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

Appendix 3.10: Wales - invitation to agree

Dear M*

Council Tax

Billing Authority: *
Address: *
Date proposal received: *

I refer to your proposal to alter the Valuation List entry for this property.

  • It might be helpful if I explain that the basis of valuation for council tax is laid down by law. Briefly, the band of a dwelling is based on the amount which the property might reasonably have fetched if it had been sold on the open market on 1 April 2003. This is the date of valuation applied to all properties for council tax purposes, irrespective of whether the property actually existed at that time. If you require more detailed information, a leaflet “How your property is valued” is available from this office.

  • In considering the band of the property, I have to have regard to all known material facts affecting both the dwelling and its locality. Your band is based on evidence of actual sales of dwellings in the locality around the valuation date of 1 April 2003 and banding settlements on other properties, and is not affected by changes in the housing market since that date.

  • I have considered your representations and I consider that the present band is incorrect and should be changed to band *. Accordingly I am enclosing two copies of an agreement form.

If you agree with my proposed changes, please sign one copy and return it to this address as soon as possible. The other copy is for you to keep. This will effectively settle the case and no further action will be required from you.

If, however, you do not feel able to accept my proposed changes and have further information to support your proposal that you wish me to consider, please contact * or forward the details to me in writing. I will then consider this information and advise you if I am prepared to amend my changes. If the matter remains unresolved, the case will have to proceed to a hearing at a Valuation Tribunal.

If you have any queries please contact the person named above, who will be happy to help you.

Yours sincerely

for Listing Officer