Check, Challenge, Appeal

Check, Challenge, Appeal

A Reformed Appeal Process for Businesses with Commercial Properties in England was introduced on 1 April 2017, with Wales still benefitting from the traditional valid / invalid appeal process.

The Reformed System introduced by the Government saw the implementation of a three-stage system: Check, Challenge, Appeal.

The process is designed with the intention of managing the flow of cases through the system, in a structured and transparent way, which will allow ratepayers to make an informed decision about how to proceed.

The new System, introduced for the 2017 Revaluation, includes the need for registration for a Government Gateway Account and increases the administrative burden on all businesses. These proposals contain new measures which were subject to heavy criticism from the start. The consensus arose that the the Government were seeking to discourage businesses from appealing their rating assessments altogether — however, Hampton Lovett can take the administrative strain away from you and deal with the complexities on your behalf.

Facts concerning the property must be agreed between the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the Ratepayer or the Agent. The intention is for this element of the process to be swift, and lead to an agreed position for the great majority of cases.

Preparing the Check will require us to carefully verify all factual information pertaining to the property prior to any challenge against the assessment. Once we have submitted a Check the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will acknowledge the submission and and respond once they have considered the proposal.

A streamlined process will enable verified ratepayers to enter the Challenge stage immediately if they have confirmed, within 4 months of the Check concluding, that property specific details held by the VOA are correct. This confirmation will be made easily via an online account that enables the ratepayer to log on and confirm that facts relevant to their valuation, held by the VOA, are correct. For the vast majority of ratepayers who can confirm the details are current and correct, we expect this will be a simple and swift element of the process

Once the facts have been verified a detailed assessment, valuation, and Statement of Case will have to be provided to the VOA in order to challenge the Rateable Value. The VOA will then issue a decision notice based on this. At this stage the decision notice may agree with the proposed valuation and reduce the assessment accordingly. The matter will then be concluded.

However should the VOA not agree there is the right to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal (VT).

This stage will address the appeals that remain outstanding and which are material, on the basis of arguments and evidence which have already been established.

An appeal to the Valuation Tribunal can only be lodged after a decision notice has been issued by the VOA. If the case proceeds to appeal, there is an opportunity to present the case to an independent panel and cross examine the VOA case. A decision is then issued by the VT 28 days after proceedings.

HM Government has stated that there was widespread concern over the previous Non-Domestic Ratings system being broken and in need of reform.

By the end of March 2016, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) had succeeded in clearing nearly 666,000 appeals on the 2010 rating list. VOA resources were transferred from Revaluation 2017 to resolving appeals, but too many appeals still remain held up for too long, creating costs and uncertainty for businesses and Local Authorities alike. Longer term performance is dependent on successful implementation of these reforms.

Following a Government consultation, which ran from October 2015 to January 2016, it was identified that reform of the ratings system was necessary, and proposals for a new three-stage approach to business rates appeals: Check, Challenge, Appeal were put forward.

The reform provides a system which is supposedly easier to navigate, particularly for small businesses or unrepresented ratepayers, with the emphasis on early engagement by the parties to reach a swift resolution of cases. Under the new system, the Government believed that businesses would be more confident that their valuations are correct and that they are paying the right amount of Business Rates and any refunds due would be paid more quickly.

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