Business Rates

Over Q4 we have found that despite the political uncertainty, we have a number of landlord and development clients commencing large redevelopment schemes. This focus on landlord/ developer work is as a result of the Monk v Newbigin Supreme Court decision that altered how refurbished/redeveloped buildings are assessed for rates during the period of works.


Should the redevelopment works be sufficiently substantial, a nominal rateable value can be applied to a building for the time that the property is incapable of being occupied for its primary purpose. This decision was made in 2017, and has had enormous implications for our clients. Below are some notable cases that had wide reaching implications in 2018.

UKI (Kingsway) Ltd v Westminster City Council [2018] UKSC 67

The key issues that the Supreme Court had to

consider were:


  • A completion notice was given to a receptionist at a building whom was employed by the building manager, and not the landlord. They were not authorised to accept service by the landlord (UKI).
  • UKI received the completion notice when it was scanned over by the receptionist – is electronic rather than paper form sufficient?

The Supreme Court decided in favour of Westminster Council and deemed the method of serving the completion notice sufficient as the landlord did in fact receive it.


This could set a worrying precedent as it seems a Completion Notice can now be attached to the building concerned and be deemed as served. This poses the risk of such a notice (which has a limited window of appeal) being missed or lost by the landlord.

Over Q4 we have found that despite the political uncertainty, we have a number of landlord and development clients commencing large redevelopment schemes

The Staircase Tax

Woolway v Mazars was a 2015 Supreme Court decision that was labelled ‘the staircase tax’ by the press. This decision impacted certain businesses that occupied more than one hereditament (separate rateable area) in a shared building – eg. two floors in a multi-let office block. Where businesses in adjoining units had previously had one bill for their occupation following this decision they then had separate bills which could lead to a rise in their rates liability.

As of 1st November 2018 this was reversed by the Rating (Property in Common

Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 whereby two or more hereditaments can be treated as one for the purpose of commercial business rates when they meet certain criteria as to contiguity. This will be a crucial decision for certain occupiers of multiple floors in large office buildings as it will offer the opportunity to reclaim any discounts for size that they previously benefitted from.