Part 6: disposal of appeals by written representation
The Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) technical manual for the rating of business (non-domestic) property.
Regulation 29 of The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009
29.—(1) Subject to the following paragraphs, the VTE must hold a hearing before making a decision which disposes of proceedings unless—
(a) each party has consented to, or has not objected to, the matter being decided without a hearing; and
(b) the VTE considers that it is able to decide the matter without a hearing.
Regulation 25(1) of SI 2005/659
Regulation 25(1) of SI 2005/659 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 the 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 will differ from a written submission. 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 VO should not object. The VO will present his/her case in person.
Written representations must follow the procedures set out in Regulation 35, and the appeal will be determined without an oral hearing, but only if all sides agree in writing.
Once the parties have agreed 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 on the basis of a hearing having read the submissions of the parties.
As a general rule the VO should only consent to this procedure being adopted in the following limited circumstances:-
illness or disability of the other party 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; excessive distance from the other party’s home to the place where the hearing is to be held. If the journey time is more than two hours, this may be considered unreasonable, and a suitable case for written representations; there is no dispute on matters of fact; the issues in dispute are matters of valuation opinion and not of legal argument. For example, it is not considered appropriate for a dispute to be resolved by written representations if it concerns such issues as state of repair or unit of assessment.
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 Technical Adviser 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.
Note an appeal to the Upper Tribunal against a VT decision is available to anyone who appeared in person, or, who made written representations if the case was dealt with by written representation.