Check, Challenge, Appeal

Check, Challenge, Appeal

A Reformed Appeal Process for Businesses with Commercial Properties in England

The Reformed System introduced by the Government has seen 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.

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.

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

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.

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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I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help in submitting our business rates appeal.

This has resulted in our rateable value falling below the minimum threshold and saving us around £6,000 last year. We have now received our 2018/2019 demand notice which is also rated at zero meaning that we have now saved around £12,000.

I am delighted with the results that Hampton Lovett has achieved and would not hesitate to recommend them to other business owners.

Brian R Dutch Minst.R, Managing Director at Polarcool Refrigeration Limited

package of incentives and requirements

It is proposed that there will be a ‘package of incentives and requirements’ to encourage early statement of facts and issues

This is to establish accurately the key points of dispute from the outset, so that the VOA (and ultimately the Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE)) can deliver the best possible service for businesses and deploy their resources efficiently. These include requirements on the parties to share evidence and arguments early in the process; fees for the Appeal stage; restrictions on evidence that can be presented at appeal; and penalties for knowingly, recklessly or carelessly providing false information.

The reform will implement time limits at each stage, to keep cases moving forward, with ‘trigger points’ at Check and Challenge stages, so the ratepayer can feel confident that they can progress the case even if no decision is made by the VOA.

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the reformed system is the introduction of fees, which will be charged for making an appeal.

The Government claim that the aim is to increase the incentives for early and full engagement and help reduce the large number of speculative appeals which clog up the system for everyone else, but there will be no charges at Check or Challenge stage, where it is the VOA’s expectation that the majority of cases will be resolved.

The Real Challenge

Although the system appears to be a marked improvement, the reality is that the overwhelming burden of the need for factual evidence and documentation right from the start of the process is likely to be a deterrent for many businesses putting an appeal forward.

move forward with confidence

We have helped save £1000's