Nottingham business rates specialist hails “fantastic” Supreme Court decision

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A Nottingham business rates specialist has welcomed the decision by The Supreme Court to overturn a Court of Appeal judgement which ruled that an office building undergoing redevelopment could be occupied by tenants and was therefore liable for full business rates.

David Cureton, a business rates consultant at NG Chartered Surveyors, has hailed the decision as “fantastic news for city developers, landlords and tenants”.

The case relates to a commercial office building undergoing a scheme of works which had been stripped to shell. It was queried whether it should be valued for the purposes of non-domestic rating (business rates), whether it went beyond “repairs”, and if it were still a useable office.

In the Valuation Tribunal and the Court of Appeal the judgement was for the Valuation Officer, but many expressed concern as to the practical application of the decision, and so the matter was appealed by the owner of the building, the firm S&J Monk.

In this week’s unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal decision and agreed with the judgment of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) that the property should be reduced in value to Rateable Value £1 and be described as a “Building Undergoing Refurbishment”.

However, in the judgement the Supreme Court asked first whether “the property that was undergoing alteration was incapable of occupation”, and if the answer is “yes”, it should be assessed accordingly which, in this case, saw a reduction in the rateable value from £102,000 to £1.

Cureton said: “The Supreme Court decision is welcome news for landlords, occupiers and developers who have recently redeveloped their property or are intending to. The wait for this decision has put a block on a whole raft of ratings appeals as we have been waiting for this decision since 2013”.