A decision of the Court of Appeal today could be helpful to business rate payers occupying distinct parts of the same building. The case relates to Tower Bridge House (pictured), where a firm of solicitors,, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, occupy levels three, four and five, and their rates are assessed as a single assessment. Mazars LLP, a firm of accountants occupy levels two and six in the same building and argued that their floors also comprise a single rateable unit of property. The Court of Appeal agreed that there were no practical grounds on which to distinguish between the two.
This means that the Valuation Officer must now engage in a more ‘common-sense’ approach in that floors which are non-contiguous can constitute a single rateable unit.
Business rate payers will be encouraged to press for a single valuation of separate floors of a building, particularly if the value of the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
Source: Woolway (VO) v Mazars LLP 
Howard Elliott of BDT welcomed the decision and hopes that his appeals that have been put ‘on hold’ pending this decision can now be settled fairly quickly by the Valuation Officer who has now lost this battle in Valuation tribunal, Lands Tribunal and now in the Court of Appeal!
The case could potentially have interesting implications for separated empty floors within the same building, as the test of ‘functional essentiality’ was not applied in this case.
Please see our updated report following the decision of the Supreme Court posted on our website on 3rd August 2015.
Should you require any advice on mitigating your own rating liabilities then please contact Howard Elliott on 01256 840777.
18th April 2013