Last week I wrote about Mexford House, the latest in a long line of rating cases taken to the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) over the last few years. Well, it seems the UKSC hasn't yet had its fill of rating law quite yet.
Having been unsuccessful at the Court of Appeal, the Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and last week received permission to do so.
I'm not surprised - the case turns on fundamental first principles of rating law and the England and Wales Court of Appeal's ruling was, in my opinion unsatisfactory, notwithstanding success for the ratepayers concerned. Should an ATM in a supermarket be separately assessed or form part of the host store? Is it a wholly different use of property? Who is truly in 'control' of it?
When cases turn on such important points, we must be brave enough to look beyond the partisan wins and to think of the wider, perhaps unforseen, ramifications. An ATM one day; something completely different another. The Pandora's box that was the Mazars litigation is the perfect example, which was so extreme the government had to legislate to reverse the fallout and protect ratepayers.
I do not believe this is simply about revenue protection. The VOA does not take the decision to appeal to upper courts lightly and it is their statutory duty to do so when they feel they must.
And let's not forget that every single rating case that has been appealed to the Supreme Court over the last few years has seen the Court of Appeal's decision overturned. We should be watching this one with interest.