“The Rates” are a centuries-old tax, formerly entirely locally-based but now collected by your local Council on behalf of central government. Councils deal with collection matters and with the ascertainment and management of certain exemptions and reliefs from collection. Most non-domestic property is liable to be rated; and, when assessed, will have a rateable value ascribed to it. This valuation is carried out by the Valuation Office Agency of the Inland Revenue, which is completely separate from the local Council.
It is possible to challenge the fact of assessment, the level of value, entitlement to exemptions from valuation and exemptions or partial reliefs from collection. These are two separate jurisdictions, even though many people think them the same, using different tribunals and courts.
Compulsory Purchase and Compensation
By their nature, these disputes cry out for settlement, wherever possible. Business or individuals have particular needs to put behind them such trauma as being removed from their premises; and the objective is to move a home or a business at the minimum of cost to the displaced claimant.
Prior to its foundation, then as one of the founders of the Compulsory Purchase Association, a multi-disciplinary body, as its founding Secretary and subsequently its Chairman, J P Scrafton has worked to bring settlements to claimants and acquiring authorities, without trial, and in the majority of his cases, has succeeded in doing so. The Association has become one of the primary consultees of central government in this field, and, as well as advising, he has written papers urging reform in a number of areas.
This is the tax which corresponds with rates, but for domestic property. As with rating, valuation is dealt with by the Valuation Office Agency and collection by the local Council, though this time the Council retains what it collects or the provision of local services. There are provisions for appeals against valuation and collection, and assistance can be given in these areas.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Given the cost of litigation, the Courts and some Tribunals are encouraging the use of mediation in order to secure resolution to disputes without, so far as may be possible, destroying an existing business relationship between the parties. Indeed, some Courts order mediation. J P Scrafton is available, as an accredited mediator, either to act as mediator or to assist a party to a mediation in advancing their case and seeking the most favourable resolution to any dispute.
As a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, also, J P Scrafton is available to assist in arbitration proceedings or Third Party Neutral proceedings for the private resolution of a dispute without resort to the Courts.
Professional Negligence and Judicial Review
Although himself no longer in practice as a solicitor, J P Scrafton has a successful track record in judicial review and in handling cases of professional negligence by surveyors, and is well-placed to advise and to work on a consultancy basis in preparing cases, selecting Counsel and taking disputes forward to Court.