On appeal from: [2013] EWCA Civ 368

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal regarding how to determine whether non-domestic premises constitute one or more than one hereditament for the purposes of the rating list. The statutory definition of ‘hereditament’ in the General Rate Act 1967, s 115(1), states that it is “such a unit of … property which is, or would fall to be, shown as a separate item in the valuation list.” Where different parts of an office building are occupied by the same occupier, the ordinary practice of the valuer is to enter them as a single hereditament if they are contiguous, but as separate hereditaments if they are not.

The appellant challenged the Valuation Tribunal for England’s decision that the respondents would be allowed to merge their two premises, which were recognised as separate hereditaments, to form a single hereditaments. The Appellant argued to the Upper Tribunal and the Court of Appeal that they should continue to be seen as two separate hereditaments but his appeals for dismissed.

Giving the leading judgment Lord Sumption stated the question in this appeal was how different storeys under common occupation in the same block are to be entered in the rating list for the purpose of non-domestic rating. In order to answer this question he reasoned that primarily it was a geographical test being based on visual or cartographic unity, followed by a test of functionality to establish if one is necessary for the function and enjoyment of the other, and finally if that enjoyment depends on the objectively ascertainable character of the premises. Lord Sumption concluded that neither a geographical nor a functionality test had been applied in the present case and therefore the orders of the Valuation Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal should be set aside.

Lord Gill and Lord Neuberger also gave separate concurring judgments.


For judgment, please download: [2015] UKSC 53
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watching the hearing please visit: Supreme Court website