Transferred non-domestic rates appeals: survey responses

The functions of valuation appeal committees transferred to the local taxation chamber, first-tier tribunal, on 1 April 2023.

Response nine

Question 1

Please tell us which organisation you represent (providing this information is optional).


Gerald Eve LLP.

Question 2

How far in advance do you think the Scottish Tribunals should aim to publish hearing dates?


To allow all stakeholders (Ratepayers and their appointed agents, Assessors, Expert Witness, and Counsel and Tribunal members) the appropriate time to plan and consider cases to be presented to the Scottish Tribunals, as early advance notice as possible would beneficial.  A rolling programme of dates over a period of 4 months in advance would allow all parties clear visibility of potential dates and allows the Tribunal if numerous cases overrun on the scheduled day of hearing to be assigned to another date with ease.

Question 3

If is not possible to publish the full detail of individual upcoming hearings far in advance, what detail about the hearings would be of most use, for instance: property type, area, etc.?


Under the previous Valuation Appeal Committee structure, there was full transparency of what was listed for hearing including subject description, address, NAV/RV, who was appealing or their appointed agent.  

It would be beneficial if as much information can be publicised as possible on the FTT website.  This may require a bit of formatting; however, we think this would provide clear and transparent data for all concerned as to what is potentially required to be heard by the Tribunal on the scheduled hearing day.  It would also allow stakeholders to notify the tribunal at an early stage of the requirements for an extended hearing which therefore allows the Tribunal to plan for these circumstances as early as possible in the process.    

The Barclay Report recommended the appeal system to be improved to "promote openness and transparency" and recommendation 19. Reform of the appeals system is needed to modernise the approach, reduce appeal volume and ensure greater transparency and fairness.  A link to the relevant entry on the SAA Portal via a hyperlink to the entry could be used as an alternative to reduce the amount of information that is desired to be shown on the table.

As per the Local Taxation Chamber website, all cases scheduled to be heard on the day commence at 10am.  In practice, this is not achievable particularly if there is more than one case being heard on the day.  A series of time slots throughout the day would allow for better diary management for all concerned.

Question 4

Are there particular dates when you think that hearings should not be scheduled, for instance: days when Council Tax hearings in the same area are scheduled, particular dates in a revaluation cycle, etc.?


In a perfect world, it would be ideal to separate Council Tax hearings from non-domestic Issues as it is often the case that non-domestic appeals are more complex and time-consuming than the equivalent hearing on domestic proposals. From a non-domestic point of view, traditionally, hearings in Valuation Appeal Committees unless for extreme circumstances, were not held during the traditional holiday seasons, i.e. Christmas, Easter and the month of July.  We would recommend that this practice is continued. It is fine balance the Tribunal need to consider, however in a revaluation cycle, we are surmising that the Scottish Assessors Association would want limited hearings (if any) during the period of preparation for the next revaluation, which for 2026 the busy period would be 1 April to 30 November 2025.  This however is within the period that all revaluation proposals must be disposed of through the issuing of PDD’s by the Assessors.   From an Agents, point of view, we would seek no hearings during the period of submission of revaluation proposals, which for the 2026 revaluation would be 1 April to 31 July 2026 (or whatever date the Government provides in statutory legislation). From a ratepayer’s perspective, they are seeking as early resolution to the issue as possible as they only want to pay business rates on a fair and equitable amount.  

Question 5

It is intended that the previous stakeholder group for the transfer of valuation appeal committees to Scottish Tribunals be reconvened to ensure ongoing dialogue with the Local Taxation Chamber President.  If you would like to join or to continue to be a member this group, please tell us here.


Yes I would be interested in joining or continuing my membership of this group.

Question 6

Is there anything else you would like to tell us in relation to transferred non-domestic rates appeals?


In relation to the 2017 appeals that were transferred over from Valuation Appeal Committee, the information provided in correspondence to all stakeholders was not sufficient.  It would beneficial if all future correspondence includes:  

  • date of appeal submitted – this helps identify where there is more than one appeal submitted for a property
  • reason for appeal – Revaluation, Running Roll, MCC 
  • address of subject 
  • Appellants Reference – include Appellants reference numbers that was used at the time of submission of the appeal with the Assessors

This basic information should be in the Assessors dataset and is essential information to allow a full and thorough data match against our own records. In early July, we received approx 6,000 letters from the Tribunal. This is a waste of time, resources and at a considerable cost the Tribunal service and ultimately the taxpayer. Electronic communication between the Tribunal and stakeholders should be the preferred option. At present we still have thousands of outstanding 2017 appeals, even after withdrawing a large number after being supplied an electronic schedule by the Tribunal before 31 August. The information provided by each of the 14 Assessor offices is not in a consistent format. It is not clear from the information provided on the schedule or in the letters, which appeals the Tribunal consider to be outstanding and therefore without a clear accurate dataset, these appeals may be subject to requirement of hearings in 2024. This potentially is a waste of the Tribunal resources as well as our own. We anticipate we would be able to consider the validity of hundreds of other appeals with the provision of accurate data.   We received a small number of letters from the Tribunal for properties that we had no interest/appeals on but had been allocated incorrectly by the Assessor and/or Tribunal when preparing the letters. We would like to think that any 2023 proposal which has gone through the stage 1 appeal process will be easily tracked and the future appeals should be considerably easier to identify.

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