The Upper Tribunal has handed down judgment in Richie Roberts (Valuation Officer) v Backhouse Jones Ltd  UKUT 38 (LC). This case concerned the amendments to s.64 LGFA 1988 following the decision of the Supreme Court in Woolway (VO) v Mazars LLP. The amendments, brought about by the “PICO Act” 2018 (the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018), permit two or more hereditaments to be treated as one, when various conditions are satisfied. One condition is the contiguity condition. A proviso states that two units can be contiguous, notwithstanding that there is a space between them that is not occupied or owned by that person.
The VTE had held that a fire corridor between two units could constitute a space for those purposes, meaning that two units were contiguous. The Valuation Officer successfully appealed against this decision. The Deputy Chamber President held at para. 41:
“Applying section 64(3ZD)(a), two occupied hereditaments on the same floor will be contiguous if some or all of a wall of one forms all or part of a wall of the other. The “space” proviso means that the basic requirement that the two units must at some point be on opposite sides of the same common wall will not be defeated merely because there is a space within the wall between the hereditaments which the occupier of the hereditaments does not occupy.”
Alistair Mills appeared for the Appellant Valuation Officer, instructed by HMRC Solicitors.