Case Selection, Handling and Settlement: cases to be referred to the Litigation and Technical Advice Team
Once a case has been open for 18 months it should, unless the Grade 6 in charge of the Valuation Group working the case rules otherwise, be referred to the Litigation & Technical Advice Team (LTAT).
Best Practice dictates that by this 18-month stage, as a general rule, valuers are expected to have had a meeting with the taxpayer present before concluding that ‘normal’ negotiations have failed and the case should be taken over by the LTAT.
At that meeting with the taxpayer present, it should be made clear that, if the valuation offered cannot be accepted, it will be withdrawn and the case will be subject to a detailed review by the LTAT. It is quite in order to point out that there is no guarantee that any offer made will be re-instated and there have been several cases where the involvement of the LTAT has resulted in taxpayers paying significantly more tax than if they had accepted an offer made by the original caseworker.
A meeting with the taxpayer present will not always be possible or appropriate. That will be a decision to be made by the valuer together with the manager, but at the very least it is expected that the valuer will have made sure that his/her position has been communicated directly to the taxpayer and it has been made clear that any value offered will be withdrawn if it cannot be accepted and the case has to be referred to the LTAT.
A recurring reason for cases getting old is delays after a referral to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Valuers should be pro-active in using Information Notices to secure property details and thereafter be prepared to call a halt to VOA negotiations and factor a compromise property value into a share valuation offer in appropriate cases.
If, before a case reaches the 18 month stage, the taxpayer/agent indicates that they may wish to take the case to a Tribunal, the case should be referred immediately to the LTAT.
A full list of the circumstances where a referral to the LTAT is required are set out in Chapter SVM117000.