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Typically at a very early stage following referral to the Tribunal, the Registrar will direct that both parties file and serve their expert valuer’s report within (usually) a 2 month period. The report will include facts relating to comparable transactions on which the valuer intends to rely, any plans, photographs or other documentation relevant to the report. This exhibit bundle that accompanies the written report is considered below whilst the detail of the written report is considered in Appendix 42.
The valuer must be familiar with the RICS Practice Statement and Guidance note ‘Surveyors acting as expert witnesses (3rd Edition)’ as supplemented by the 2009 addendum and the 2011 2nd addendum (or any new versions) available from the RICS website. In England & Wales, the valuer should also familiarise themselves with the Lands Chamber Rules, Practice Directions and the Civil Procedure Rules practice direction 35. The rules of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland are of similar effect.
The following general rules should be observed:-
- The reference number which constitutes the title to the proceedings must be stated on all exhibits. The office file reference should not be quoted.
- Every exhibit, including plans, maps, photographs or other documents, should be identified by a reference e.g. VOA1, VOA2 etc. Elaborate references e.g. incorporating the valuer’s initials or unnecessary sub-divisions should be avoided.
- Exhibits should be held together in proper sequence normally within a ring-binder, to facilitate easy removal. Staples should not be used. It is usually preferable to avoid marking the exhibits themselves but to include the exhibit behind a divider marked with the exhibit number, so as to avoid unnecessary work when changing exhibit numbers during the drafting process.
- Where the exhibit is large and has to be folded the reference should be placed in a position (if necessary by repeating it on the back) so that it can be clearly seen whether the exhibit is folded or opened.
- Typed documents such as valuations and schedules of comparable properties should not be prepared in a cramped format. Spacious columns and layout avoid confusion at the hearing and enable the evidence of the valuer to be followed more readily by Counsel and the Tribunal Member. The VOA valuer should show measurements in both metric and imperial terms, for ease of comparison and to avoid confusion should the claimant or his expert witness quote evidence in terms of measurement different from the VOA. If a metric mode of measurement can be agreed in advance, only this need be shown.
- If the valuer has doubts whether or not any document would be admissible as evidence they should consult and follow the advice of HMRC’s Solicitor and SVT Policy & Professional.
Copy documents will be needed for each of the following: the Registrar, each of the parties, the Solicitor representing HMRC, Counsel and SVT Policy & Professional. In cases of doubt the Solicitor will advise on the number of copies required. Provided that the witness, who will be giving the evidence to which the documents and exhibits relate, is clearly identifiable, e.g. by reference VOA1 etc and the headings to the documents, it is not normally necessary for the witness to sign any of the documents other than the valuation.
However, the expert witness report should be signed and dated by the witness.
Normal EDRM guidance should be followed so that all documentation is held electronically and once there is no longer a need for hardcopy papers these should be destroyed.
Adequate particulars must be provided to enable the Tribunal and the parties to identify the property. Each property in the schedule should have a reference number which enables it to be readily identified on a location map. It might be desirable to distinguish market transactions from settlements by a simple colour code.
Where relevant, plans showing the internal layout of buildings should be provided and cross-referenced to the schedule.
The names of parties to transactions and the identity of taxpayers involved in settlements should not be included in the schedule. For ease of comparison the property the subject of the reference should normally be shown as the first item of the schedule and the valuation must be analysed in the same way as the comparable evidence.
Each plan, map or line drawing, should be checked by the witness on the ground. The plan, map or drawing should be to an appropriate scale which should be clearly stated. The north point and property location should be shown and the Crown Copyright statement as appropriate.
The size of the map or plan should be appropriate for its purpose; overlarge plans should be avoided where practicable. Plans should be folded and not rolled.
Photographs should be accompanied by a short description and the date and time it was taken. The viewpoint of the photograph should be indicated on a map by reference to its number and its direction shown by an arrow.
Photographs are not normally required by the Tribunal to be formally proved, nevertheless the photographer may exceptionally be required to attend the hearing to prove the photographs and should be made aware of this possibility.