Rating Manual section 8: litigation

Part 2: rental evidence in valuation proceedings

The Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) technical manual for the rating of business (non-domestic) property.

1. Introduction

This section gives guidance on the use of information as evidence in proceedings before valuation tribunals and the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal which has been derived from Forms of Return (FORs) or other documents and SDLTs.

Formal procedures are provided for in the legislation but the existence of the covering legislation permits discussion during negotiations of rental evidence derived from FORs and SDLTs.

Should the negotiations prove unsuccessful it is often easier, if possible, for the Valuation Officer, and the other parties alike, if the rental evidence to be agreed prior to the hearing and service of the Regulation 17 notice in England, The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/2269) or Regulation 31 notice in Wales Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (Wales) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/758 W63), indeed in the case of Upper Tribunal appeals it is expected that the expert witnesses will have prior agreed all facts relating to comparable evidence and thereby by inference the rental evidence to be included.

2. Statutory Provisions

Paragraph 5 of Schedule 9 to the Local Government Act 1988 enables a VO to serve a notice on a person who is an owner or occupier of a hereditament requesting him to supply such information as is required by the VO for the purpose of carrying out the VOs statutory functions imposed by the Act.

Stamp Duty Land Tax Evidence

Sect 17 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 enables the VO/LO to use SDLT information in relation to rating and council tax matters;

(1)Information acquired by the Revenue and Customs in connection with a function may be used by them in connection with any other function.

3)In subsection (1) “the Revenue and Customs” means—

(f)the Commissioners of Inland Revenue (or any committee or staff of theirs or anyone acting on their behalf),

Confidentiality

Sect 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005

(1)Revenue and Customs officials may not disclose information which is held by the Revenue and Customs in connection with a function of the Revenue and Customs.

(2)But subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure—

(a)which—

(i)is made for the purposes of a function of the Revenue and Customs, and

(ii)does not contravene any restriction imposed by the Commissioners,

In England

Regulation 17 of The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating

Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/2269) enables the VO to introduce to the tribunal proceedings information supplied in pursuance of paragraph 5 of Schedule 9 to the Local Government Act 1988 [FORs} and any land transaction supplied via a SDLT provided notice of this has been given to the Appellant.

Regulation 17 sets out the procedure for so doing and states that 2 weeks notice must be given by the VO of his/her intention to refer to rental evidence.

However the Valuation Tribunal England [VTE] have directed in its Practice statement PS/A7 - Non Domestic Rates Disclosure and Exchange that 6 weeks notice must be given where Reg 17 evidence is to be used.

In Wales

Regulation 31 of the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (Wales) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/758 W63) again restricts the use of paragraph 5 of Schedule 9 to the Local Government Act 1988 [FORs} evidence unless proper notice has been given, in Wales this is 3 weeks before the Tribunal hearing date.

Note there is no requirement in Wales to give notice of SDLT information to be used in connection with a rating appeal.

3. Information which may be used as evidence

By virtue of Regulation 17 in England and Regulation 31 in Wales information supplied in pursuance of Regulation 24 (SI 2009/2268) England and Regulation 42 (2005/758 W63) Wales, which relates to information to be supplied to VOs by billing authorities, or Para 5 of Schedule 9 to LGFA 1988 is admissible as evidence in valuation proceedings.

The regulations do not preclude the use of information supplied in respect of hereditaments valued having regard to their trading potential as was the position under previous legislation.

VOs are reminded that in order to facilitate obtaining information various Codes of Practice have been entered into (e.g. Public Houses). The importance of not disclosing sensitive trade information other than in accordance with the codes cannot be over emphasised, and the Regulation 17/ Regulation 31 procedure should only be used in the last resort.

When dealing with appeals in respect of hereditaments valued having regard to their trading potential notice must not be served as a matter of course. Traders regard trading information as sensitive and VOs should respect this and only serve notice when it is essential because negotiations have been exhausted and the VO considers it imperative to produce evidence of rent/trade to support the valuation.

The decision to issue a Regulation 17/ Regulation 31 notice quoting trading information should be made after consultation with the facilitator of the relevant class co-ordination team.

4. Documents to be treated as containing information

Information supplied in pursuance of Para 5 of Schedule 9 to the LGFA 1988 can be in the form of:-

  • FORs designed for the purpose and containing a reference to the Act which was operative at the time the forms were issued
  • a reply in writing to the VO together with a copy of the VOs letter, provided the request for information contains a reference to Para 5 of Schedule 9 to the LGFA 1988 (or similar previous enactment if appropriate) together with a statement of the purposes for which the information is requested.
  • a letter to the VO referring to a FOR recently made and giving additional information in relation to that specific return.

In cases of doubt the VO should submit a report outlining the circumstances and enclosing copy documents to CEO (Rating) through the Technical Advisor together with a copy to the VO

5. General Policy - use of rental evidence

The initiative in the use of documents containing information under Regulation 17/ Regulation 31 rests with the VO and, unless, FORs or other documents (see 4(b)(c)) are introduced into the proceedings by the VO other parties have no rights under the regulation. No action should be taken which might lead to a suggestion that VOs are taking unfair advantage of this provision.

During a post revaluation period the use of rental evidence will generally be necessary even after some assessments have been subject to Valuation Tribunal decisions. Once levels have been firmly established and accepted by the VT the VO may be able to rely upon comparisons of assessments without having to resubmit rental evidence to the VT in individual cases. Appeals to the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal involve a de-novo hearing and it will usually be necessary to introduce rental evidence before the Tribunal, even where reliance was placed on comparisons before the VT for a much longer post revaluation period.

6. Rental evidence during discussion period

Appellants or their representatives should be given the opportunity to fully explain their grounds for believing the assessment to be incorrect during the discussion period.

Where professional representatives or ratepayers make an appropriate effort to discuss the proposal before target date then proportionate rental evidence in support of the VO’s view may be disclosed and discussed prior to the service of a Regulation 17/ Regulation 31 notice.

Rental evidence should no longer be disclosed as a matter of course at the start of the discussion period.

Where an appeal is made to the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal it is usual for both parties to the appeal to agree the details of the rental evidence to be spoken to before the hearing

7. Notice to be given by the Valuation Officer

In order that documents containing information may be used as evidence Regulation 17(4)/ Regulation 31(3) provides that the VO must ensure that:-

  • not less than two weeks [3 weeks in Wales] prior to the hearing serve notice or every other party to the proceedings specifying the information to be used and the hereditament(s) to which it relates; and
  • any party on whom such a notice is served and who has given the VO at least 24 hours notice of his intention to do so, has been permitted by the VO to inspect and take extracts (not photocopies) from the documents or other media on which the information is held.

However caseworkers in England should note that the Valuation Tribunal for England VTE practice statement A7 requires a Regulation 17 notice to be sent to the Appellant 6 weeks before the hearing if FOR or SDLT evidence is to be referred to at the hearing.

The Regulation 17/ Regulation 31 notice served must provide in detail the nature of the evidence the VO intends to adduce. As the parties have the right to inspect any document to which reference is made in the notice it will not be necessary to quote every entry verbatim but details, at least in summary form, of each of the statements of fact on which the VO intends to rely should be given.

Where rents have been referred to during the discussion period in order to assist in the preparation of notices VOs should consider producing in advance key rent schedules which can be attached to Regulation 17/ Regulation 31 notices but only where appropriate discussions have taken place before the target date. In these circumstances those cases where the VO has produced a schedule of comparables, using evidence from FORs or other documents, in time to be served with the notice this may be attached and the notice suitably endorsed.

8. Forms of Notice

Forms VO 7109, Notice of Information to be used in Evidence (Appendix 1:3:2) and VO 7109A Continuation Sheet (Appendix 1:3:2) have been designed for use by the Valuation Officer in giving notice under Regulation 17/31.

The words “used in evidence” in the forms should be taken as an undertaking by the Valuation Officer to produce at the hearing all the returns specified.

Provision is made in the forms for the Valuation Officer to state the number of hereditaments to which the specified documents relate. In this connection:-

  • on a document which refers to more than one hereditament (eg a return giving details in respect of separately assessed sub-lettings, or a schedule type of document completed by an owner), each entry is a return in itself and consequently only those hereditaments to which reference is to be made should be counted;
  • the number of hereditaments should be ascertained in accordance with the rating lists at the date of the notice.

Notices will usually be prepared and printed from DSP for more information please see the Defence Support Package (DSP) Homepage.

If at the VT hearing any person to whom notice has been given challenges the validity of the notice the VO should seek an adjournment and refer the matter, together with full details, to CEO (PSD) via the TA.

9. The hereditaments to be specified

When a notice is to be given under Reg 17/31 and a document is held for the hereditament which is the subject of the appeal, that hereditament should always be specified in the notice.

When considering which hereditaments to specify in the notice, the Valuation Officer should not select only those hereditaments which provide rental evidence most favourable to his/her case.

The notice should include all relevant rental evidence. The VO at the hearing will need to explain why greater weight should be given to some rents, and these lead to the VO’s valuation conclusion, and why other evidence although pertinent to the appeal is not as relevant to the valuation.

See cases Lotus and Delta v Culverwell (VO) & Leicester City Council (1976) 239 EG 287 and Specialeyes v Felgate (VO) RA 387 1992

Special care should be taken with regard to the selection of hereditaments outside the area within which the particular VO is responsible for the rating lists since Regulation 17(6)(a) / Regulation 31(4)(a) does not give the ratepayer the right to ask for returns not in the possession of the Valuation Officer. The aim must be therefore always to give the VT or Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal a fair picture of the relevant rental evidence.

In some cases, it will often suffice to produce a reasonable sample of the available rents, provided the sample is representative of the whole. When it is appropriate to refer only to hereditaments in the same terrace or parade as the hereditament under appeal, the Valuation Officer may decide to produce all the available rents. For hereditaments of a non-repetitive type, rental evidence from a much wider field may have to be selected.

It will always be a matter for local determination to decide the number of rent returns to be produced. As a general guide, up to twelve hereditaments should normally suffice, but in some circumstances it may be necessary to increase this number to present a fair picture of the position. It should, however, be remembered that the other party has the right to refer to an equal number of other hereditaments.

Rental evidence in support of shop valuations in main shopping thoroughfares may have to be confined to each part or section of the street considered to have a separate standard of rental value for rating purposes. Nevertheless, it may be appropriate to include rents of other sections of the street where it is considered that such evidence is relevant to the case under appeal and where it is thought likely to assist the Valuation Tribunal or Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal in its determination.

The introduction by a Valuation Officer of rented hereditaments situated outside the valuation area, should be restricted to essential cases. Such introduction of rental evidence over a wider area may be made, having regard to the class of property concerned in the appeal and the other circumstances of the case (eg the situation of the appeal hereditament close to another VO’s boundary or the lack of similar rented properties in the locality).

Photocopies of FOR documents, certified by the VO who has the originals in his/her possession can be utilised for this purpose should the appellant wish to see a hardcopy record. Otherwise the screen record or a PDF of the scanned document can be shown at any office of the VO responsible for the appealed hereditament.

Alternatively the party may wish to travel to the office where the FOR is located to see the original if the above options are not acceptable.

(See also paragraph 11)).

10. The documents to be specified

Although it will usually be sufficient to specify only the latest admissible document relating to a particular hereditament, the Valuation Officer may also specify earlier documents. If he chooses not to specify the earlier returns and a request is made to produce any of them, see paragraph 12.

Where an earlier document differs materially from the latest one but refers to the same tenancy (or period of tenancy), so that there appears to be a mistake in one of them, then the earlier document must be specified also, the valuer pointing out the apparent discrepancy to the VT or Lands Chamber and saying upon which return he/she is relying.

It should be borne in mind that, subject to admissibility, the Valuation Officer is not precluded from relying on a document completed after the compilation of the rating list. Reference should however be made to the case of Smith v Moore (VO) 1972 RA 269 LVC/220/1970 before reliance is placed on the admissibility or relevance of documents received after the date of a VO alteration or to an IP proposal particularly if they are needed as evidence to confirm a “trend” reflected in the valuation.

Where the case is under National Specialist control, the selection of documents will be made in consultation with the CEO case manager.

11. Rights of other parties - counter-notice under Regulation 17(6) or Regulation 31(4)

In addition to the right of inspection and making copies of the documents to be used by the Valuation Officer (see paragraph 7(b)), any person to whom notice is given by the Valuation Officer under Regulation 17(4) / Regulation 31 (3) may give notice to him under Regulation 17(6) / Regulation 31 (4) specifying other hereditaments as being hereditaments which are comparable in character or are otherwise relevant to the person’s case, and requiring the Valuation Officer to permit access to information on those hereditament’s that is relevant to the appeal proceedings.

Regulation 17

(4) Information to which this paragraph applies shall not be used in any relevant proceedings by a billing authority, a LO or a VO unless—

(a) not less than two weeks’ notice, specifying in relation to any information to be so used the documents or other media in or on which that information is held and the dwelling or hereditament to which it relates, has previously been given to every other party to the proceedings; and

(b) any person who has given not less than 24 hours’ notice of his intention to do so has been permitted, at any reasonable time—

(i) to inspect the documents or other media in or on which such information is held; and

(ii) to make a copy (other than a photographic copy) of, or of any extract from, any document containing such information.

(5) …

(6) Subject to paragraph (7), any person to whom notice relating to any hereditament has been given under paragraph (4)(a) (“P”) may before the hearing serve notice on the VO specifying other hereditaments as being hereditaments which are comparable in character or otherwise relevant to P’s case, and requiring the VO—

(a) to permit P at any reasonable time specified in the notice to inspect and (if P so desires) to make a copy (other than a photographic copy) of, or of any extract from, any document containing information to which this regulation applies which relates to those other hereditaments and is in the possession of the VO; and

(b) to produce at the hearing or to submit to the tribunal such documents as before the hearing P has informed the VO that P requires.”

The person wishing to inspect the documents must give at least 24 hours notice and specify which of the documents they wish to inspect.

If the person gives notice under reg 17(6) [England] or reg 31(4) [Wales] that they wish to inspect other comparable documents they must also give at least 24 hours notice.

Inspection of the documents or on screen data must be in person and arranged at a reasonable time around normal Valuation Office opening times.

The information must be inspected at the relevant statutory VO’s office. An appointment may be made to visit any other of the particular VO’s offices in which the appeal hereditament is situated but cannot be at another VO’s location.

This right is limited in that the number of hereditaments specified in the notice must not exceed 4 or if greater the number of hereditaments specified in the Valuation Officer’s notice.

However, the person is entitled to inspect all relevant documents held in relation to those hereditaments so, for example, if the VO notice relates to 1 FOR in respect of each of 4 hereditaments (a total of 4 FORs) and the VO holds 2 FORs in respect of each of the 4 comparable hereditaments in the person’s counter-request (a total of 8 FORs), the person is entitled to inspect all 8 of those documents as well as the 4 in the VO’s notice;

The Valuation Officer should require notice given for the purposes of Regulation 17(6) / Regulation 31(4) to be in writing. In cases of ambiguity, the other party should be informed by letter of the action which the Valuation Officer assumes the notice to require.

Where the FOR is held in hardcopy at the location where the inspection is to take place the person may be shown the document and is permitted to make notes from it. A member of the VO staff must supervise the visitor and remain present at all times that documents are being inspected;

Scanning, photocopying or photographing (e.g. with a camera or mobile phone) documents is not to be permitted; Notes may be made in manuscript or be typed into a laptop or be recorded into a dictaphone etc;

Where the hardcopy is not held at the relevant location, or if the person is content to view the information on-screen, a member of staff may retrieve the relevant information from the database and allow the person to view the screen. Care must be taken to only permit sight of the relevant screens. A member of the VO staff must supervise the visitor and remain present at all times that documents are being viewed;

Alternatively, printouts from the database may be provided in the same way as for hardcopy original documents. The person is only permitted to take notes from the printouts and must not be permitted to take the printouts away with them.

The ratepayer’s right under Regulation 17(6) / Regulation 31(4) does not extend to inspection or production of returns relating to hereditaments outside the valuation area and which are thus not “in the possession of” the Valuation Officer.

Nevertheless, with respect to hereditaments where a Valuation Officer has included in his own notice properties outside the valuation area (see paragraph 9), then he should afford the ratepayer to whom he has given such a notice a similar right; this right need not be limited to a number of “outside” hereditaments equal to the number of “outside” hereditaments quoted by the Valuation Officer (see paragraph 15).

Where it is necessary to quote evidence covered by two VOs, it will not be necessary to insist that a visit is made to each VO. A photocopy of the FOR certified by the Valuation Officer to be a true record may be made available for inspection at the other VO’s office or alternatively a scanned record or screen record may be shown to the Appellant. Alternatively the Appellant may make an appointment to view the original documentation if they wish to do so at the office where it is held.

12. Documents containing information to be produced

The VO must produce, if requested to do so, all the documents containing information in his or her possession which relate to each hereditament specified in a Regulation 17(6)/Regulation 31(4) counter-notice. In practice, ratepayers will usually be interested only in the latest admissible documents, but if the VO is asked to produce documents at a hearing, he or she should have with them all documents which are in their possession in respect of the particular hereditaments.

If the counter-notice is received too close to the hearing for arrangements to be made for the inspection and making of copies if required, the VO should take to the hearing all the documents to which the counter-notice relates and should explain the circumstances to the VT at the commencement of the proceedings. The VO should not treat any counter-notice received before the date of hearing as too late for these purposes if within reason. Otherwise the VO’s only course will be to request a postponement of the hearing.

When the VO is informed verbally under Regulation 17(6)/Regulation 31(4) of the document/returns which are required to be produced at the hearing, the VO should, to avoid any dispute, state in writing the documents which will be produced.

If requested, the VO should produce any earlier document relating to a hereditament specified in the VO’s notice, even where such earlier return has not been specified. Such a request should be treated by the VO as being independent of the ratepayer’s right under Regulation 17(6)/Regulation 31(4)) to specify other hereditaments.

Regulation 17(6)(a) / Regulation 31(4) (a) refers to documents “in the possession of the Valuation Officer”. VOs should act reasonably in the interpretation of these words and the phrase is to be considered in relation to:-

Hereditaments in the same valuation area as the hereditament which is the subject of an appeal.

If the VO has no document in his or her possession for a hereditament specified in a counter-notice and which is in the same valuation area as the appeal hereditament, the VO should so inform the other party in writing immediately. There is no power for the other party to substitute another hereditament for one specified in a counter-notice, either because the information disclosed does not assist the party’s case or there is no document.

The VO should not decline to produce for inspection any document held which relates to a hereditament not in the same charging authority area as the appeal hereditament.

Hereditaments in other valuation areas

A VO should refuse to bring into his or her “possession” any form of return concerning a hereditament outside the valuation area, unless such a hereditament has been included in the VO’s own notice (see paragraph 14).

Regulation 17(8)/Regulation 31(6) however does not permit any person who has served a counter notice to inspect or copy, or require the VO to produce any document, that contains information which does not constitute direct evidence of the rent payable where such information is not reasonably required for the purposes of the relevant proceedings.

The inspection, copying or production of receipts information, trading accounts, and costs relating to specialised buildings or plant and machinery is therefore precluded unless the hereditament cited is comparable to the appeal hereditament or the information is otherwise reasonably required.

An example of this may arise in an appeal against the assessment of a shop unit where a similar shop unit, used as a wine bar, is cited as being a hereditament comparable in character to that person’s case. Different FORs will have been served on the occupier of the shop (VO 6003) and the occupier of the wine bar (either VO 6010/VO 6011). If full details have been provided VO 6010 and VO6011 will show trading information in addition to rental details, and it would not be appropriate for all this information to be inspected, copied or produced at the hearing of the VT.

Whether the other hereditaments specified in the counter notice are comparable in character, or otherwise relevant to the case of the person who has given the notice, is a question of fact for determination by the tribunal or arbitrator, if appointed. Reference should be made to para 14 where the VO refuses to comply on these grounds.

13. Misuse of information

Where, in the opinion of the VO, an attempt is being made to obtain information for purposes other than the proceedings concerned, the circumstances should be reported to CEO (Rating) via the Technical Adviser. Subject to any special instructions that may be given in consequence of such a report, the VO should give effect to all notices.

14. Applications under Regulation 17(9) / Regulation 31(7)

Where the VO has refused or failed to comply with a Regulation 17(6) / Regulation 31(4)counter-notice, the person who made the notice may make application to the tribunal (or arbitrator if appointed) for the VO to be directed to comply with the notice.

Upon receipt of a copy of such an application, the VO should immediately email CEO (Rating) via the Technical Adviser a full report of the circumstances including reasons for considering that the provisions of Regulation 17(6) / Regulation 31(4) (see para 12) are not satisfied, together with a scanned copy of the application and of all notices in respect of documents served by and on the VO in the proceedings concerned.

The VO should state in the report whether it is considered that legal representation should be given at the hearing of the application.

If, before the receipt of instructions from CEO (Rating), the VO receives notice of hearing of the application, the Technical Adviser should be advised by telephone or by email marked importance ‘high’.

15. References to rented hereditaments not in the same Valuation Area as the appeal hereditament

References to hereditaments outside the valuation area should be restricted to essential cases (see paragraph 9), but when a VO wishes to produce rental evidence in respect of hereditaments, and based on documents in the possession of another VO, one of the following alternatives should be adopted:-

  • a schedule of rents may be agreed with the other parties (see paragraph 6). This method is preferable and should always be attempted;
  • for the purpose of a Regulation 17(6) / Regulation 31(4) notice certified copies of documents may be obtained from the VO holding the documents. the VO holding the original document should certify each copy at the bottom as follows:-

“certified a true copy (Signature) Valuation Officer ………………… Valuation Area. Date” When the copy is taken sufficient space on the copy paper should be left for the certificate.

Where it cannot be avoided, the VO who had possession of documents containing information may be called to give additional evidence of comparison as between the rented properties and the appeal hereditament. Where, however, the evidence required is of a comparatively minor nature, arrangements can be made for one of the VO’s valuers to attend the hearing and give supporting evidence.

Where a VO has specified in a notice documents obtained from another VO (see paragraph 9), and the ratepayer also has included in a counter-notice hereditaments outside the valuation area, copy documents relating to the latter hereditaments should be obtained from the appropriate VO.

16. Imperfect documents

An unsigned document is not a document to which Regulation 17 / Regulation 31 applies. Such a document should, therefore, neither be specified in a notice by the VO nor produced for inspection in consequence of a counter-notice.

No attempt should be made to erase any notes in ink that have been added on any document after its receipt in the office. The VO should be prepared, on request, to explain any such notes to the VT or Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal or to the person to whom the document is produced for inspection. It is emphasised that Regulation 17 / Regulation 31 applies only to documents as originally made by the person required to make them.

If any document to be specified in the VO’s notice, or relating to a hereditament specified in a counter-notice, contains any comments (eg questioning honesty) which are considered undesirable for production to the other parties or to the VT or Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal, the VO should seek instructions from CEO (Rating). The VO should send a copy of the report via their Technical Adviser.

17. Agreement of facts

It will be an advantage in all proceedings to establish by agreement before the hearing the facts stated in any documents to be used by the VO and the facts concerning the hereditaments to which the documents relate. Unless, exceptionally, the other party is prepared to agree any analysis that the VO has made, the facts stated in the documents should be produced in schedule form for the purposes of agreement and any analysis dealt with separately.

The VO should offer to agree facts in respect of any documents which the other party requires to be produced at the hearing.

For procedure regarding agreement of facts relating to hereditaments outside the valuation area (see paragraph 14).

18. Formal documents

Notices served by and on the VO under Regulation 17 / Regulation 31 should be treated as formal documents and should be available for inspection by the VT at the hearing.

19. Service of Notices

Regulation 22 The Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals)(England) Regulations 2009 SI 2009/2268 applies in relation to any notice authorised or required to be given for the purposes of Regulation 17 and in Wales Regulation 40 The Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals (Wales) 2005 SI 2005/758 W63.

20. Notice under Regulation 17 / Regulation 31

Where the VO is to be legally represented before the VT, any notice under Regulation 17 / Regulation 31 will be signed and served by the HMRC Solicitor managing the case.

21. Persons to whom the Valuation Officer’s Notice is to be given

Notice by the VO under Regulation 17 / Regulation 31 in respect of an appeal to the VT must be given to every other party to the proceedings.

22. Rents - avoidance of press publicity

When documents are produced at a VT hearing and the Press is present, the VO should ask the Chairman to request the Press not to publish details of the tenancies of the premises quoted, as such information may prove embarrassing to the occupiers and owners of the properties concerned.

23. Publication of the VT decision

The Tribunal decisions are public documents and will be published on the VTE/VTW website unless an application is made by a party to have a decision redacted or anonymised.

Applications may be made in writing before the hearing, orally at the hearing or exceptionally in writing after the hearing.

All applications must be supported by reasons and it is for the applicant to satisfy the tribunal that an application should be granted.

The following are some of the reasons the tribunal would consider granting an application for:

  • national security

  • public safety or public order

  • personal safety

  • privacy and family life [CT decisions]

  • protection of children [CT decisions]

  • protection of commercially sensitive information

24. Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal

Appeals to the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal should be lodged within 4 weeks of the Valuation Tribunal decision.

The Registrar sends a copy of the appeal to the other parties and asks if they wish to respond to the appeal.

A response to an appeal must be lodged within 1 month of the Respondent being sent the notice of appeal.

The expectation of the Upper Tribunal is that parties will have exchanged all documents, evidence and expert witness reports upon which they intend to rely prior to the hearing date, and have a statement of agreed facts as well as having agreed the issues which they require the member to decide upon.

The time limits for the exchange of documents depend upon whether the case is to be dealt with on the standard procedure or the simplified procedure.

Unless the simplified procedure is requested and agreed to by both parties the standard procedure will be followed.

Under both procedures the Appellant and Respondent will usually file and serve a Statement of Case with the appeal and the response notice, however an application for an extension of time to serve the statement of case made be made if necessary and on payment of a fee.

The Statement of Case will include reference to any FOR or SDLT evidence which is to be relied upon.

Simplified procedure

The Upper Tribunal will fix the hearing date and then not less than one month before the hearing date the parties to the appeal must exchange copies of all the documents they intend to rely upon, this would include full details of any FOR or SDLT information referred to in the statement of case.

Standard procedure

On acknowledgement of the appeal and confirmation that the standard procedure applies both parties are directed to send to the Tribunal and exchange with each other their expert witness reports and statements of witnesses of fact usually within 2 months of the Registrar confirming the use of the standard procedure.