Jersey New Waterworks Company Ltd v Grouville Rate Assessment Committee, St. Helier Rate Assessment Committee and Supervisory Committee of The Constables

CourtRoyal Court
JudgeCrill, Bailiff and Jurats Orchard and Herbert:
Judgment Date16 June 1994
Date16 June 1994
Crill, Bailiff and Jurats Orchard and Herbert:

W.J. Bailhache for the representor;

J.G. White for the first respondent;

C.R. de J. Renouf for the second respondent;

N.F. Jouneaux for the third and fourth respondents.

Cases cited:

(1) Att. Gen. v. Contractors Plant Serv. Ltd., 1967 J.J. 785.

(2) Cardiff Rating Auth. v. Guest Keen Baldwin's Iron & Steel Co. Ltd., [1949] 1 K.B. 385; [1949] 1 All E.R. 27; [1949] L.J.R. 713; (1948), 65 T.L.R. 159; 42 R. & I.T. 2; 47 L.G.R. 159; 113 J.P. 78; 93 Sol. Jo. 117.

(3) Council of Civil Service Unions v. Minister for Civil Service, [1985] A.C. 374; [1984] 1 W.L.R. 1174; [1984] 3 All E.R. 935; [1985] I.C.R. 14; (1984), 128 Sol. Jo. 837; sub nom. R. v. Foreign & Commonwealth Secy., ex p. Council of Civil Service Unions, [1985] I.R.L.R. 28, dicta of Lord Diplock considered.

(4) Kingston Union Assessment Cttee. v. Metropolitan Water Bd., [1926] A.C. 331; (1926), 134 L.T. 483; 42 T.L.R. 275; 95 L.J.K.B. 605; sub nom. Metropolitan Water Bd. v. Kingston Union Assessment Cttee. (1926), 24 L.G.R. 105; [1926-31] B.R.A. 111, applied.

(5) Metropolitan Water Bd. v. Borough of Hertford, [1953] 1 W.L.R. 622; [1953] 1 All E.R. 1047; (1953), 51 L.G.R. 267; 117 J.P. 265; 97 Sol. Jo. 299, applied.

(6) Renouf (née Brett) v. Children's Officer, 1968 J.J. 853.

(7) Rowland (B.H.) v. Finance & Econ. Cttee., 1981 J.J. 169, considered.

Additional cases cited by counsel:

Associated Provncl. Picture Houses Ltd. v. Wednesbury Corp., [1947] 2 All E.R. 680.

Baker (née Knott) v. Public Works Cttee., 1968 J.J. 965.

Cardiff City Council v. Williams, [1973] R.A. 46.

Dawkins v. Royal Leamington Spa B.C., [1961] R. & V.R. 291.

Evans v. Agriculture & Fisheries Cttee., 1983 J.J. 89.

Garton v. Hunter, [1969] 1 All E.R. 451.

Hackett v. Housing Cttee., 1970 J.J. 1523.

Housing Cttee. v. Phantesie Invs. Ltd., 1985-86 JLR 96.

Imperial College of Science & Technology v. Ebdon, [1986] R.A. 233.

Le Gros v. Housing Cttee., 1974 J.J. 77.

Le Maistre v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1980 J.J. 1.

Liverpool (Mayor, &c.) v. Assessment Cttee. of Llanflyllin Union, [1899] 2 Q.B. 14.

Mesch v. Housing Cttee., 1990 JLR 269.

Moran & Son Ltd. v. Marsland, [1909] 1 K.B. 744.

R. v. Paddington S. Rent Tribunal, ex p. Millard, [1955] 1 All E.R. 691.

R. v. Willesden JJ., ex p. Utley, [1948] 1 K.B. 397.

Royal London Mutual Ins. Socy. v. Finance & Econ. Cttee., 1982 J.J. 37.

Sullivan v. West Yorks. Passenger Transp. Exec., [1985] 2 All E.R. 134.

Tett v. States, 1972 J.J. 2249.

Legislation construed:

Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, art. 1, as amended by the Parish Rate (Administration) (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 1960, art. 1: The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 203, lines 13-16.

art. 8(2): The relevant terms of this paragraph are set out at page 209, lines 28-33.

art. 14(1): "Where the owner or occupier of any land, or the Constable, is aggrieved by the incorrectness or the unfairness of any matter relating to that land in the draft list, he may lodge an objection with the supervisory committee...."

art. 15: The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 204, lines 6-20.

Second Schedule, para. 1(1), as substituted by the Parish Rate (Administration) (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 1960, art. 6: The relevant terms of this sub-paragraph are set out at page 203, lines 31-35.

Water (Jersey) Law 1972, Preamble: The relevant terms of the Preamble are set out at page 201, line 43 - page 202, line 3.

art. 14: The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 202, lines 8-43.

Texts cited:

Emeny & Wilks, Principles & Practice of Rating Valuation, 4th ed., at 173 (1984).

Halsbury's Laws of Engand, 4th ed., vol. 39, para. 114, at 94; para. 116, at 96; para. 116 (1994 Cumulative Supplement, at 39/18); para. 117, at 98-99.

Parochial Administration—rating—objections—Supervisory Committee not to meet assessment committee members to promote uniformity of assessment under Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, art. 8(2) at same time as hearing objections against particular assessment—by art. 15(3), assessment committee members may not be present when objections heard

Parochial Administration—rating—valuation—statutory obligation of waterworks company to provide water to be given weight by Parish rate assessment committee in determining rateable value of assets—not to be rated in same way as commercial company, even though profitable—possible effect of valuation on water rates not to be considered

Parochial Administration—rating—valuation—method of valuation—proper method for assessing non-profit-making asset of public utility is "profits basis," i.e. hypothetical rent from property as appropriate proportion of income from whole undertaking—same method to be adopted by all Parishes—method of calculation

The first and second respondents made rating valuations in respect of property owned by the representor.

The representor, a profit-making company charged by statute with the duty to provide a water supply throughout the Island, owned reservoirs in two separate Parishes of which the first and second respondents were the rate assessment committees. They assessed the rateable values of the premises of the representor on which the reservoirs were situated, the first respondent doing so using a method of assessment known as the "contractor's basis." This involved taking the rateable value of the reservoir as the hypothetical rent that could be obtained by a developer, by assuming a rate of return on the capital value of the construction. The second respondent calculated a hypothetical rental value of the reservoir in its Parish by comparison with land rented commercially in the area.

The representor objected to the assessments to the Supervisory Committee of the Constables, on the ground that they were too high, under,

It then considered the two objections, in each case the Constable of the Parish in which the relevant reservoir was situated leaving the meeting, apparently in accordance with art. 15(3) of the Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, by which no person being a party to the objection or a member of an assessment committee could be present while the Supervisory Committee was deciding on the objection. It appeared that some of the Constables taking part in the decision had not sat at both the original hearings to hear the evidence at first hand. The assessments were then upheld on the grounds that they were fair and in accordance with the law.

The representor sought judicial review of the decisions of the assessment committees and the Supervisory Committee. It submitted that (a) both assessments had been unlawful in that they had contravened the provisions of the Second Schedule to the Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, as amended (which, by para. 1(1), specified that rating valuations were to be based on the hypothetical rental values of the properties in question); in particular, the first respondent had been wrong to use the "contractor's basis" alone without reference to other Parishes' assessments and the second respondent had made inappropriate comparisons with non-comparable properties in the area; (b) the assessments were so unreasonable that no reasonable assessment committee could have made them; (c) the Supervisory Committee's decision had also been unreasonable and unlawful; and (d) in adopting the procedure it had, the Supervisory Committee had acted in breach of art. 15(3) of the Law and in breach of natural justice.

The respondents denied these allegations and submitted that their decisions had been fair, reasonable and within the law. It was conceded that there was no statutory formula for calculating rating valuations.

The court also considered (a) whether the fact that the reservoirs, whilst not in themselves profit-making or capable of being rented, were part of a profit-making, Island-wide undertaking, should be reflected in the valuation; (b) the provisions of s.8(2) of the Law, by which the Supervisory Committee could hold "conferences" with members of assessment committees to promote the uniformity of rating assessment throughout the Island; and (c) whether the fact that high rating valuations might require the representor to increase water rates to meet its increased costs was a matter which could properly be considered in making an assessment.

Held, quashing the decisions and ordering that the rates be reassessed:

(1) Since it appeared that the purpose of the Supervisory Committee's meeting was to adjudicate upon the objections against the assessments, by art. 15(3) of the Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, the members of the assessment committees should not have been present at all. Whilst by art. 8(2) the Supervisory Committee could hold a "conference" with assessment committee members to promote uniformity of assessment throughout the Island, it could not do this at the same time as hearing the objections. Further, since both objections had been adjourned, those Constables who had not been present at the original hearings to hear the evidence should not have taken part in making the decisions. For these reasons the Supervisory Committee's proceedings had been flawed and would be declared void (page 209, lines 34-39; page 220, lines 24-25; page 221, lines 1-2).

(2) Although the representor was a profit-making company and should therefore pay substantial rates, it was not in the same position as any ordinary commercial company in that its primary purpose was to provide water throughout the Island in pursuance of its statutory obligations and not simply to make a profit for its shareholders. The assessments made by the first and second respondents and the ruling of the Supervisory Committee had failed to consider this special position of the representor and were therefore improperly made. However, the possible effect of the...

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