Once the Valuation Tribunal has decided a rateable value, that is the rateable value of the hereditament. The Valuation Officer (“VO”) cannot proceed on the basis that the rateable value is wrong, because that rateable value has been fixed in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (“the 1988 Act”).
The way it can be established that such a rateable value is wrong is to make an appeal to the Upper Tribunal (or possibly by asking the Valuation Tribunal to review its own decision on the basis that it was reached on an erroneous understanding of the facts).
Unless a material change of circumstances provides a basis for a reconsideration of the entry in the list, the VO is bound to accept the entry whatever doubts he entertains about it, because his duty to maintain an accurate list exists inside a hierarchical framework of adjudication and appeal which he must respect.
It would undermine the whole system of appeals if the VO was entitled to impose his own view of the “correct” rateable value whenever he was satisfied that a Valuation Tribunal decision was wrong for whatever reason.
Even if out of time for an appeal a VO can appeal against the the Valuation Tribunal’s decision out of time. Such an appeal is not available, as of right, but first needs an application to the Upper Tribunal for an extension of the time for giving notice of appeal under rule 24(5) of the Tribunal Procedure (Upper Tribunal) (Lands Chamber) Rules 2010.
That application will trigger a judicial determination which may or may not allow an appeal to proceed, but that process will take account both of the VO’s desire to maintain the accuracy of the list and of the public interest in finality, and respect the statutory adjudication scheme.
No such application was made in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) Case of Mrics (Valuation Officer) Re: White Waltham Aerodrome  which follows.
In 2005 the Berkshire Valuation Tribunal based the rates assessment of some aircraft hangars on an erroneous square meterage resulting in a low charge. The aircraft hangars each had an area of 910m2. But the Berkshire Tribunal decided that the area of each of the hangars was 217.9m2.
Then the ratepayer applied to the VO to add some offices to the hereditament. That resulted in a modest agreed increase.
When it came to preparing the draft 2010 revaluation the VO took the opportunity to correct the square meterage error resulting in a much higher assessment. The ratepayer tried to argue that the VO had not been entitled to reopen the low square meterage figure established by the 2005 Berkshire Valuation Tribunal. It also pointed out that some portacabins present in 2005 had left the site.
The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) ruled that when the VO becomes aware of a material change of circumstances he is under a duty to alter the rating list to represent the new rateable value to reflect that change.
That gave effect to the VO’s duty to maintain an accurate list. The VO must value the hereditament in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 2 of Schedule 6 to the 1988 Act.
Contrary to the contentions of the ratepayer here, where there has been a material change of circumstances the VO is not restricted to adjusting the Valuation Tribunal’s determination by assessing the sum which must be added to or taken from the previous rateable value solely to reflect the impact of the material change, but is required to undertake the single valuation exercise of determining the rateable value of the hereditament as it now exists in light of those changed circumstances.
A mistake of fact made by the Valuation Tribunal need not be perpetuated and the VO is entitled to start from scratch, but giving appropriate weight to the Valuation Tribunal’s decision.
In most cases the starting point will be the original entry in the list, and the appropriate way to apply the statutory criteria, given the change of circumstances, would be to adjust the original figure. However, such valuation technique would be the means to implement the valuation criteria in paragraph 2 of Schedule 6, and NOT a substitute for those criteria.
However where it was obvious to the VO that the original entry in the list determined by the Valuation Tribunal was based on a mistaken understanding of the facts that would be an exceptional case entitling the VO to deviate from using the original entry in the list as his starting point.
But even if the Tribunal was wrong on this, the rateable value, which was altered by the VO on 29 October 2009, was not a rateable value determined by the Valuation Tribunal, but was rather the value agreed between the parties in July 2008, following the merger of the office building into the Airfield hereditament.
At that time the VO’s revaluation was a figure agreed by the parties, and represented the rateable value of a hereditament which, by the merger of the offices into the airfield, was itself materially different from the hereditament which had been valued by the Valuation Tribunal in its decision of 19 March 2008.
So in any event the 2010 revaluation, based on the corrected hangar square meterages, was actually an alteration to a rateable value in the rating list, which had resulted from an agreement between the VO and the ratepayer, and not from a Valuation Tribunal decision. So it did not, in any event, involve the constitutional and jurisdictional considerations which might have attended the VO interfering with a decision of the Valuation Tribunal.
So the VO’s appeal was allowed.
The blog has been posted out of general interest. It does not replace the need to get bespoke legal advice in individual cases.