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Part 5: Appeals to the High Court - England

VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates.

NB: Pre 1st October 2009, the relevant Regulations were The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) regulations 1993/290. These are still applicable for Wales.

Post 1st October 2009 in England, the relevant regulations are The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating) (Procedure) Regulations 2009/2269.

5.1 Introduction

An appeal against a VTE decision for council tax (CT) purposes is made to the High Court (HC) and not to the Lands Tribunal. An appeal can be made only on a question of law by any party to the appeal who is aggrieved by the decision, e.g. if that party believes the VTE wrongly interpreted the valuation evidence, and/or law, in arriving at its decision.

An appeal is heard in the Queen's Bench Division Administrative Court of the High Court. All cases are classed as "divisional" and therefore administered at CEO as they will involve a point of law.

The procedures are as set out in the Rules of the Supreme Court - Order 55 (Appendix 3.7).

5.2 Outline

A very tight timetable is set out for these procedures, which require the service of various documents. A great deal of time is involved in preparation by the HMRC solicitor. The Head of Council Tax Technical will instruct, and liaise with, the solicitor and legal Counsel who will be instructed to take the case.

Before making an appeal, the solicitor has firstly to read all the papers and then determine what (if any) errors of law are disclosed by the decision of the VTE. Copies of the Notice of Motion have to be prepared and served on the various respondents, two Affidavits (Affidavit of service and the LO's detailed Affidavit in support of the appeal) have to be prepared and served, and draft instructions to Counsel prepared.

5.3 Time Limits for Appeals

Regulation 43(2) (England) provides that an appeal may be dismissed by the HC if it is not made within 28 days from the day the applicant received notice of the decision in question.

Regulation 40 (England) makes provision for a VTE to review one of its decisions. In such a case, the appeal may be dismissed by the HC if it is not made within four weeks beginning on the day the applicant received notice of:-

1. the determination that the VTE will not undertake a review;

2. the determination of the VTE not to set aside the decision in question;

3. the issue of a certificate reviewing the original decision;

4. the issue of an order revoking the original decision pending a re-hearing or redetermination.

5.4 Instigating Appeals

An appeal is brought by "Originating Motion". The Notice of Motion must state in its grounds why the decision is considered to be wrong and whether the appeal is against the whole or part of the decision of the VTE.

The Notice of Motion will normally be served upon and the appeal entered in The Crown Office, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, together with two copies and the prescribed fee, (payable to HM Paymaster General) within 28 days of the date of the decision of the VTE. A copy must be served on the Chairman to the VTE and on each party to the proceedings.

HMRC Solicitors will be instructed to deal with an appeal, whether instigated by the LO or where a taxpayer initiates an appeal, by receipt of papers from the Administrative Court.

5.5 Legal Representation

Counsel instructed by the HMRC solicitor will represent the LO in all cases before the HC. The solicitor will normally serve all necessary documents and advise on procedure, but in order to do so, (certainly where the LO is the appellant), must be provided with all the relevant documents and instructions from CEO not later than ten days from the date of the VTE decision.

5.6 Listing Officer as Party

As the hearing will concern legal argument only, fresh expert evidence will not be heard. The LO in person will be the appellant or respondent (as appropriate) named in the case, and will be represented by legal Counsel.

5.7 Action where Listing Officer considers an Appeal should be made

Where a LO considers an appeal should be made, after discussion with a council tax Technical Adviser (TA), a copy of the VTE decision, relevant LO documentation and a covering letter must be sent to the Head of Council Tax Technical within 48 hours of receipt of the decision.

The VTE decision is the crucial document for advisers to judge whether a legal error exists and should indeed be corrected to maintain correct lists, to establish correct legal principles and to prevent possible ill founded ‘relevant decision’ proposals.

A memorandum of evidence, a copy of the proposal and an appeal report (Appendix 3.8) should be prepared and sent in duplicate, together with the LO's complete file, to arrive at CEO within five working days of receipt of the decision. A copy should be sent to the Technical Adviser.

5.8 Action when a Notice of Motion is received from another Party

When a Notice of Motion is received, the LO should scan and send this electronically to the Head of CT Technical and to the Technical Adviser immediately. A memorandum of evidence, a copy of the proposal, a copy of the VTE decision and an appeal report should be prepared and sent in duplicate, together with the LO's complete file, to arrive at CEO within five working days of receipt of the Notice of Motion. A copy should be sent to the Technical Adviser.

5.9 Appeal Report

The aim of an appeal report (Appendix 3.8) is to set out all the material facts and other information about the case. Part 8 of the report should be concise and objective. Undue emphasis should not be put on the LO's case, and attention should be drawn to any aspect which may reflect adversely on the LO. The report should not be a transcript of the VTE hearing, but one should be attached if it has been prepared.

5.10 Registration & Subsequent Correspondence

The appeal must then be registered on the computer. Care must be taken to ensure that the VTE decision has been input prior to registering the HC Appeal.

All hardcopy papers relating to the appeal must be collated and placed in a plastic wallet. The Working Docket VO7456 should be placed as the top item in the wallet. Survey particulars, CTVS and other documentation will be retrievable from EDRM. The wallet should then be passed to the caseworker.

Duplicate copies of subsequent correspondence will be sent from the Head of CT Technical to the HMRC Solicitor. On no account should any further correspondence be entered into between the taxpayer and the local office. Any correspondence or telephone calls relating to the case should be referred to the HMRC Solicitor, via the Head of CT Technical. Occasionally, a caseworker may be copied in to a relevant email to ease direct contact when necessary, as time may be of the essence.

5.11 Notifying the Billing Authority

The LO will need to establish whether the Billing Authority (BA) is likely to be a party to the appeal, as soon as possible. Where the BA is not a party to the appeal, the LO should advise them of the existence of the appeal so that they are aware of the situation when dealing with billing matters.

When the LO is notified that the BA wishes to be a party to a High Court appeal, the LO should notify the Head of CT Technical and the Technical Adviser immediately.

5.12 Clearance

When an appeal is cleared, details should be entered onto the computer promptly, using the appropriate settlement code listed on the CT Mini Work Aid. If a change to the band has been specified, this will then be included automatically in the next Schedule of Alterations for the BA.

Case papers should be filed with other cases settled in the same month.

5.13 Consequential Matters

Following a decision to change a band, consideration must be given to any consequential reviews of the bands for other dwellings which may be necessary. Further information on consequentials can be accessed from the CT & HA homepage by clicking here.

If changes are clearly warranted, the LO should arrange for LO Reports to be raised.

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