Part 2: settling proposals without a VT decision - England
The Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) technical manual for the rating of business (non-domestic) property.
This section is relevant to England only, for Wales refer to the relevant section available from the index.
References to regulations in this section of the Manual are to the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals)(England) Regulations 2009 [SI 2009 No 2268] unless otherwise specified.
1. Well founded proposals
1.1 Giving effect to a proposal
The authority to well-found a proposal is set out in Regulation 10:
“10 Proposals agreed by valuation officer Where the valuation officer is of the opinion that a proposal is well-founded, he shall as soon as reasonably practicable alter the list accordingly. “
Most well founded proposals will be to give effect to matters that have previously been established or to delete an entry from a Rating List but it is recognised that a proposal to include a hereditament in the List (or for a split or merger) may also be treated as well founded. These cases are likely to be rare in view of the need to propose correct entries in respect of the description, address, rateable value, effective date and other matters required by section 42 of LGFA 1988 – ‘the Act’- and the list must show if the property is a composite hereditament or partially exempt. There is nothing in the Appeal regulations to prevent the well founding of a proposal after it has been transmitted to the Valuation Tribunal as an appeal. The Rating List must be amended as soon as reasonably practicable in accordance with the proposal and the well founded notices must be served in accordance with Reg. 17 on all the necessary parties, within four weeks of altering the list.
2. Withdrawal of proposals
Regulation 11 enables the withdrawal of a proposal before transmission of an appeal and Regulation 19(1) (a) The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals)(Procedure) Regulation 2009 [SI 2009 No.2269] enables the withdrawal of an appeal before the commencement of a VT hearing by notification to the VTE in writing or (b) orally at the hearing.
2.2 Withdrawal forms
The Regulations do not prescribe any form for withdrawals. A letter or written notice from the maker of a proposal clearly stating an intention to withdraw unconditionally should be accepted as valid. (If the case has reached appeal stage, see para 4).
Whenever possible form VO 7300 (RM Appendix 2:6:1) should be used for the withdrawal of a proposal. If the withdrawal is in the form of a letter, it should be attached to a form VO 7300 and the space for “The proposer” to be marked “see letter attached”.
3. Withdrawal (prior to transmission to VT as an appeal)
3.1 Parties to a withdrawal
Whenever it is intended that a proposal shall be withdrawn before it is transmitted to the VT as an appeal, the person who made the proposal may withdraw it by serving written notice on the VO (Regulation 11(1)).
A proposal can be withdrawn at any time before the appeal stage by obtaining the signature of the person who made it. However, if the proposal was made by a person in the capacity of ratepayer and that person is no longer the ratepayer for the hereditament at the date of withdrawal, see para 3.2 below or, if there is an ‘interested person’ who has served notice on the VO (Regulation 11(3)), see para 3.3 below.
Where the VO has received a withdrawal of a proposal, prior to its referral as an appeal to the VT, from an occupier, who remains in occupation, the caseworker should arrange to have VO 7300 fully completed and signed by or for the VO and processed in accordance with NDR Procedure Manual.
3.2 Change of ratepayer
Where a proposal made by the ratepayer of the hereditament is to be withdrawn before the appeal stage, and that person is no longer the ratepayer, it cannot be withdrawn unless the ratepayer at the date of withdrawal has also given consent in writing (Regulation 11(2)). If the present ratepayer declines to give written consent to the withdrawal of a proposal made by a previous ratepayer, then the withdrawal cannot take effect. In this situation the proposal will have to remain outstanding and be transmitted to the VT as an appeal. If the proposer was a tenant and the hereditament is unoccupied at the date of the withdrawal, the signature of the owner will be required. However if the original proposal was made by an owner/occupier and the hereditament is unoccupied at the date of the withdrawal provided the appeal stage has not been reached the signature of the proposer is sufficient if there is no change of ownership.
3.3 Interested persons
Where the VO has received a withdrawal of a proposal, prior to its referral as an appeal to the VT, but an interested person has served notice to take part in the proceedings in relation to the proposal, under Regulation 11(3), the VO must serve notice of the withdrawal on that interested person.
Regulation 11(4) confers a right on that interested person, to serve written notice on the VO and may take over the original proposal. Such a notice by the interested person has to be served on the VO within six weeks beginning on the day on which the VO served the Regulation 11(3) notice of the withdrawal of the proposal on the interested person.
No time limit is specified for the service by the VO of a withdrawal of proposal notice under Regulation 11(3). However, the VO should serve the notice on the interested person immediately after receiving the withdrawal of the proposal using letter VO 7057 and form VO 7058 (RM Appendices 2:6:3 & 4), enclosing a copy of the original proposal.
Where VO 7058 Notice is returned to the VO by an interested person, within the time limit of six weeks, the proposal is still treated as withdrawn. However the person who served the VO 7058 on the VO becomes a new appellant if that person would at the date of the proposal have been competent to make it.
The VO 7058 Notice should be attached to a blank proposal form and, as per regulation 11(4)(a), registered in the RSA as a new proposal with a case remark to indicate that the proposal is made following the notice by an interested person under Regulation 11(4) pursuant to the original (now withdrawn) proposal. It should be treated as if it were made in the same terms as the original (now withdrawn) proposal but, for administrative purposes, made on the day on which the Notice was served on the VO.
Under regulation 11(4)(b) any resulting alteration shall have effect from the day which would have been applicable had there been no withdrawal under this regulation.
In the event that this proposal becomes an appeal, a copy of the VO 7058, together with a copy of the original (but now withdrawn) proposal should be forwarded to the VT.
Where VO 7058 is returned to the VO after the time limit of six weeks the interested person should be advised that it is out of time and no further action taken on the matter.
If the VO 7058 is returned within the time period but the VO considers that the interested person would not have been competent to make the original (now withdrawn) proposal, then the Regulation 8 invalidity procedures should be applied (see RM Vol 2 Sec 2 para. 6).
4. Withdrawal of proposals (after transmission to VT as an appeal)
4.1 Notification to Tribunal
Regulation 19(1) (a) The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals)(Procedure) Regulation 2009 [SI 2009 No.2269] provides that a party may give notice of the withdrawal of its appeal or any part of it by sending or delivering to the VTE a written notice of withdrawal, in practice this will continue to be the standard letter VO7300, which after all parties to the appeal have signed, the VO will forward to the Clerk to the VTE.
When an appeal is withdrawn between the last electronic download to the Tribunal and the commencement of the hearing, it will be necessary for offices to agree locally the method of notification to the Clerk. The Regulations do not require written notification nor evidence of the withdrawal but a standard letter VO 7308 (RM Appendix 2:6:5) may be used if required. If, however, the Clerk of a particular VT requests that copies of the signed VO 7300 withdrawal form be supplied, VOs may comply accordingly.
Once all the parties to the appeal have signed the form VO 7300 it should be signed and dated by or for the VO and retained on the case file. The case should then be cleared as a withdrawal case on RSA and progressed to completion.
4.2 Parties to a withdrawal (after transmission to VT as an appeal)
Before a proposal, which has reached the appeal stage, can be withdrawn under Regulation 11 The Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals)(England) Regulations 2009 [SI 2009 No 2268] and Regulation 19(1) (a) The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals)(Procedure) Regulation 2009 [SI 2009 No.2269], the written agreement (where appropriate) of the following persons is required:-
a. the valuation officer
b. the proposer
c. subject to Regulation 11(2), the current ratepayer, at the date of the withdrawal of the proposal
4.3 Notifying interested persons
Where an appeal to the VT is withdrawn under Regulation 19(1) (a) The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals)(Procedure) Regulation 2009 [SI 2009 No.2269] or Regulation 12 The Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals)(England) Regulations 2009 [SI 2009 No 2268] it is unnecessary for the VO to serve a withdrawal of proposal notice in accordance with Regulation 11(3) because any person who has exercised the right to be a party to the proceedings in respect of the proposal will already have consented to the withdrawal as required under Regulation 12.
5. Notifying the Billing Authority
There is no requirement to notify the Billing Authority that a proposal has been withdrawn. Billing Authorities will be advised of the position via the normal electronic transmission of update schedules in accordance with NDR Procedures Manual.
6. Settlement of proposals/appeals by agreement
Settlements of proposals or appeals by agreement are dealt with under Regulations 12 and Regulation 19A The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals)(Procedure) Regulation 2009 [SI 2009 No.2269] as amended by The Valuation Tribunal for England, Non-Domestic Rating and Council Tax (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 [SI2011 No.434.
6.1 Agreement forms
Various forms of agreement, VO 7302 - VO 7307 (RM Appendices 2:6:6-11) have been introduced for use when agreements are made to alter the Rating List (RM Appendix 2:6:2 gives a complete list of all Forms of Agreement and their purpose). Where these are generated electronically care must be taken that the RSA or the Defence Support Package data is fully completed to ensure the correct documents are produced.
6.2 Standard covering letter for agreement form
A standard letter, VO 7301, reproduced as RM Appendix 2:6:12, should be used to forward two copies of the agreement form to individual parties for their signature. A third copy of the form, showing the signature(s) obtained to date (if any), should be enclosed for retention by the party concerned.
Agreement forms should be signed by all the requisite parties as listed 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 on the case file. This procedure should be followed each time a signature is added to the forms 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.
6.3 Parties to an agreement
The persons whose written agreement is required are set out in Regulation 12(2) The Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals)(England) Regulations 2009 [SI 2009 No 2268] as follows:
a. the valuation officer
b. the proposer
c. subject to Regulation 12(3), the occupier, at the date of the proposal, of any hereditament to which it relates
d. the ratepayer, at the date of the agreement, in relation to any hereditament to which it relates
e. subject to Regulation 12 (3), any interested person or relevant authority who -
(i) would at the date of the proposal have been competent to make the proposal in question, and (ii) not later than two months after the day on which the proposal was received by the VO, informs the VO in writing that the IP or the authority (as the case may be) wishes to be a party to the proceedings in respect of the proposal.
When the appropriate agreement form has been signed by all requisite persons mentioned above and returned to the Local Office, the caseworker should ensure that the agreement form is signed, and dated, by (or for) the VO.
6.4 Missing signatories
By virtue of Regulation 12 (3): The persons referred to at 3.1, 4.2 and 6.3 above do not include—
(a) the occupier of the hereditament at the date of the proposal who is no longer in occupation of any part of it at the date on which all the other persons mentioned above have agreed, provided that the VO has taken all reasonable steps to ascertain that former occupier’s whereabouts, and they have not been ascertained, or
(b) any IP referred to in paragraph (e) above who cannot be contacted at the address supplied to the VO.
(i) Where— (c) the period of two weeks to give effect to altering the list would expire before the period of two months mentioned in paragraph (2)(e)(ii), and (d) the VO has not received a request under paragraph (2)(e)(ii) within that two-month period, If any of the other required signatories are unobtainable, the proposal or appeal will have to be determined by the VT.
6.5 Agreement of Billing Authority
(a) Proposals made before 1 April 1993 – 1990 Lists
References to regulations in this sub-paragraph are to the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) Regulations 1993 (SI 1993 No.291) as amended unless otherwise specified.
Because of the transitional provisions (Reg 54) of the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) Regulations 1993 (SI 1993 No. 291) the position of the BA remains as it was for the first 3 years under SI 1990 No. 582. Agreement forms VO 7303 and 7304 must always be signed by or on behalf of the Billing Authority. This is because all BAs are competent to make proposals for the deletion or insertion of entries as set out in Regulation 4(1) of the 1993 Regulations. This also applies to any agreement, on whichever form is appropriate, resulting from a proposal made on the grounds of a material change of circumstances or a decision by the relevant VT, the LT or a superior court. The BA in such cases would have been competent to make the proposal under Regulation 4(4). Agreements in respect of proposals against the compiled List (Regulation 4(2)), for splits, mergers or reconstitutions (Regulation 4(3)), by new ratepayers (Regulation 4(5)) and in respect of VO alterations (Regulation 4(9)) do not require the signature of the BA. A requirement for the signature of the BA, if appropriate, will have been decided on initial registration of the proposal and the BA shown as a party to the proposal on the “APP Parties” report.
(b) Proposals made after 1 April 1993
Since 1 April 1993, BAs do not automatically become a party to a proposal simply because they were competent themselves to make a proposal on the same grounds. An Authority must now also serve written notice on the VO within 2 months of the proposal being made stating that they wish to be a party to the proceedings in respect of that proposal. Only if the BA serves notice and would have been competent to make the proposal can the Authority become involved in the proceedings for that proposal. This provision should not be confused with the requirement under Regulation 9(1) of the 2009 Regulations for BAs to serve notice requiring copies of proposals see RM Vol 2 Sec. 2 para. 8.
6.6. Time limits for giving effect to agreement
Where the parties to a proposal reach agreement in writing on an alteration to the list before the end of the period of two months from the day the proposal is served on the VO, the List should not be altered during that period. This is to ensure that the rights of interested persons, who may during that period under Regulation 12(2)(e) serve notice on the VO of their wish to become a party to the proceedings, are preserved (see Reg 12(3)).
If, between the date of the agreement and the end of the two months’ period, an interested person gives the VO notice of a wish to be a party to the proceedings, that person’s written agreement will be necessary before effect can be given to the alteration to the list already agreed with the other parties. If such agreement is not forthcoming the proposal will have to be settled by a VT decision.
If no person has become a party to the proceedings by the end of the two months’ period, the VO should alter the list to reflect the agreement within 2 weeks in accordance with Regulation 12(1)(a) and 12(3).
6.7 Notification to Tribunal (after transmission to VT as an appeal)
Although there is a statutory requirement, under Regulation 19, The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals)(Procedure) Regulation 2009 [SI 2009 No.2269] for the Clerk of the VT to be notified that an appeal has been settled, there is no requirement for the VO to supply actual copies of agreement forms. If, however, the Clerk of a particular VT requests that such copies be supplied, VOs may comply accordingly. Where an appeal has been constituted by means of electronic media transmission to the VT, notification of settlement will be automatically transmitted on the next weekly download. Where an appeal has been constituted by means of manual transmission to the VT, the settlement of such cases will always be reported manually. Form VO 7308 (RM Appendix 2:6:5 )should be used for this purpose.
7. Valuation Tribunal Consent Orders
After a Non Domestic Rating proposal has been transmitted or filed at the Valuation Tribunal, The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 N0 2269 makes the following provisions:
- (1) The VTE may, at the request of the parties but only if the VTE considers it appropriate, make a consent order disposing of the proceedings and making such other appropriate provision as the parties have agreed. (2) A consent order may provide for the alteration of a list and, where it does, shall specify the day from which the alteration is to have effect. (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of these Regulations, the VTE need not hold a hearing before making an order under paragraph (1), or provide reasons for the order.
This provision may allow for a list to be more accurately and correctly maintained than can be achieved by sole reliance upon service of a new proposal or issue of a Valuation Office notice. Such further action may be restricted due to the expiry of legislative time limits or similar lack of legislative authority.
An application for a consent order may typically be appropriate where the list requires an alteration following agreement for a material change that has an agreed duration (‘start’ and ‘end’ dates).
An order that specifies the day from which the alteration is to have effect, following the provisions in 35.(2), may also, within the ‘appropriate’ provisions of 35.(1), seek an end date for those material circumstances.
Such an order is compatible with regulation 38(7) that states:
(7) Where it appears that circumstances giving rise to an alteration ordered by the VTE have ceased to exist, the order may require the alteration to be made in respect of such period as appears to the VTE to reflect the duration of those circumstances.
PS 16 of the Consolidated Practice Statement for the Valuation Tribunal for England effective from 1 July 2017states that an application for a consent order may also include the date and entry that the list is to revert to if a temporary alteration is sought.
Rating Lists are shown on a daily basis and while it is not considered essential when applying for such an order to say what the entry should be for any day earlier or later than the period for which the alteration will have effect, the Valuation Office agrees that such a request may assist the VTE for clarification of the entry that must reappear in the list following a temporary alteration. That entry should be the entry that is already shown in the list for the relevant day that immediately follows the last day for the agreed period.
Valuation Officers should not agree to a consent order that seeks to replace an entry that follows after such a period with a new entry that reflects a different material day and set of material circumstances to those that created the entry for the agreed period. Such a different set of circumstances will be outside the scope of the proposal and the dispute that gives rise to the agreed temporary alteration. Such a different set of circumstances and grounds for any post period alteration cannot be seen as ancillary to the agreement.
If the list is inaccurate for the day and a period after the temporary alteration ceases, then such later period will have a different set of material circumstances and ‘matters’. The list may be corrected for those later circumstances by a further proposal or VO notice. In the event that the legislation prevents either of those actions, the list will remain inaccurate. Such an outcome is wholly compatible with such legislative restrictions on the VO’s ability to maintain a list.
In order to maintain the correct entries to be shown in the list, RSA will require that the VO makes 2 clerical changes to give effect to the single agreement. One to alter the list from the effective date of the alteration (the ‘start’) and another to fix the ‘end’ date. That end date will be fixed by reinstating the entry that should remain in the list for the day immediately after the agreed period. Such administrative action is only to give full and proper effect to the agreement and is not a separate ‘alteration’ within the meaning and intent of the Regulations.
Form of request PS 16 of the Consolidated Practice Statement for the Valuation Tribunal for England states that an application for a consent order must be in writing and include: • the appeal number • the existing entry in the list (rateable value, description and address) • full details of the names of the parties • the date(s) and amounts of any reduction together with the entry (if different) that the list is to revert to if a temporary reduction is sought. A form has been and is reproduced as RM Appendix 13. This meets the required criteria and should be used when applying for a consent order Joint Application to the VTE for a Consent Order under Reg.35
8. Completed casework
Caseworkers must complete all the necessary procedures in accordance with NDR Procedures Manual and ensure matters including the issue of appropriate Transitional certificates and valuation scale amendments or creation have been carried out as necessary.
9. Quality assurance checks
Quality Assurance Checks must be carried out in accordance with NDR Procedures Manual.