The Representation of Fields (Née Harvie-Smith)

CourtRoyal Court
JudgeHamon, Deputy Bailiff and Jurats Gruchy and Potter:
Judgment Date20 October 1998
Date20 October 1998
Hamon, Deputy Bailiff and Jurats Gruchy and Potter:

M. St. J. O'Connell for the representor;

N.F. Journeaux for the respondent.

Cases cited:

(1) Barnard v. Walker, [1975] R.A. 383; [1976] J.P.L. 100.

(2) Council of Civil Serv. Unions v. Minister for Civil Serv., [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 Serv. Unions, [1985] I.R.L.R. 28, considered.

(3) Jersey New Waterworks Co. Ltd. v. Grouville Rate Assessment Cttee., 1994 JLR 197, considered.

(4) Munday v. Mason (1960), 59 L.G.R. 282.

Additional cases cited by counsel:

Eastaway v. Rees (1957), 2 R.R.C. 147.

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

Island Dev. Cttee. v. Fairview Farm Ltd., 1996 JLR 306.

Ladies Hosiery & Underwear Ltd. v. West Middlesex Assessment Cttee., [1932] 2 K.B. 679.

Mitchelhill v. Slingsby (1978), 21 R.R.C. 261.

Pointer v. Norwich Assessment Cttee., [1922] 2 K.B. 471.

States Greffier v. Les Pas Holdings Ltd., 1998 JLR 196.

Stockbridge Mill Co. Ltd. v. Central Land Bd., [1954] 2 All E.R. 360.

Legislation construed:

Housing (General Provisions) (Jersey) Regulations 1970 (R. & O. 5444), reg. 1(1):

"Subject to the provisions of this Regulation, for the purposes of Article 10 of the [Housing] Law, consent to the sales or transfers of land or registered contracts of lease shall be granted by the Housing Committee in any case where—


(k) the Committee is satisfied that consent can be justified on social or economic grounds ..."

Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, art. 8: The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 369, line 37 - page 370, line 12.

art. 9, as substituted by the Parish Rate (Administration) (Amendment No. 6) (Jersey) Law 1995, art. 2: The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 372, lines 15-19.

art. 12: The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 365, lines 16-25.

art. 14(4), as substituted by the Parish Rate (Administration) (Amendment No. 6) (Jersey) Law 1995, art. 3: The relevant terms of this paragraph are set out at page 363, lines 8-13.

art. 15, as substituted by the Parish Rate (Administration) (Amendment No. 6) (Jersey) Law 1995, art. 3: The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 363, lines 14-16.

Second Schedule, as substituted by the Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Regulations 1991 (R. & O. 8194), reg. 1: The relevant terms of this Schedule are set out at page 365, line 27 - page 366, line 36.

Texts cited:

Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th ed., vol. 39, para. 98, at 82; paras. 114 and 115, at 94; para. 118, at 101; para. 119, at 103.

Rees, ed., Valuation Principles into Practice, at 372; at 374 (1992).

Parochial Administration—rating—appeals—Assessment Committee to provide information to Parish Rate Appeal Board under Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, art. 9, as amended, even though assessment for which information sought under judicial review

Parochial Administration—rating—appeals—judicial review of Appeal Board's decision—court to consider whether decision lawful, whether proceedings before Board satisfactory and whether decision could reasonably be made

Parochial Administration—rating—appeals—Parish Rate Appeal Board to consult Supervisory Committee, obtain expert advice on methods of rating valuation in appropriate cases and obtain all relevant evidence before deciding on proper method of assessment—Board to consider propriety of alternative methods and make calculation set out in Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, Second Schedule, as amended

The representor sought judicial review of a decision of the Parish Rate Appeal Board increasing a rate assessment in respect of her property.

The representor owned a substantial residential property to which major structural works were carried out, greatly increasing its size. In 1994, before the work was done, the property received a low rate assessment from the Parish Rate Assessment Committee. The assessment was successively raised in 1995 and 1996, although in each case it was calculated on the basis of the putative rental value of the property, taking into account the improvements.

The representor appealed to the Parish Rate Appeal Board (the respondent) against the 1996 assessment on the ground that it was markedly higher than that for 1995. Members of the Board visited the property and the representor commented to them that there was no rental market for such large properties in Jersey.

On the basis of that comment, the Board determined that the rate assessment could not be based on rental value but had to be calculated according to the "contractor's method," which assumed that the property's capital value was evidence of its rental value. The Board conceded, however, that using that method, the rateable value of the property would be even higher because of the substantial cost of the refurbishments and it therefore decided to maintain the assessment on the ground that it would otherwise be higher than the assessment for comparable properties in the Parish, which were still assessed by reference to rental value. The Board did not at any time consult the Supervisory Committee in accordance with art. 14(4) of the Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, as amended, whose function it was, inter alia, to promote uniformity between the rate asessments by different Parishes.

In 1997, the rate was assessed at a similar figure to that for 1996, again by reference to rental value. The representor again appealed and this time the Board increased the assessment, applying the contractor's method, calculating the "effective capital value" of the property from the known purchase price and the cost of the improvements and applying a 4% rate of return, on the assumption that that would be the lowest return that a hypothetical landlord would be willing to accept on his investment. However, this calculation was made in the absence of any direct evidence of capital value from the Assessment Committee or the representor; in particular, the Assessment Committee declined to provide an estimate on the ground that by that stage, the representor had initiated the present proceedings in the Royal Court in relation to the 1996 decision and the issue was therefore sub judice (even though by art. 9 of the Parish Rate (Administration) (Jersey) Law 1946, as amended, it was under a duty to furnish the Board with "all information which it may require for the due discharge of its functions under this Law and which it is in the power of the Assessment Committee or the Constable to furnish"). The Board obtained legal advice that it should consult a professional familiar with the contractor's method before making its decision but did not do so.

On review, the representor submitted that (a) although there was no rental market for such properties, it was possible to ascertain a rental value using the method of calculation set out in the Second Schedule to the Law and the contractor's method was accordingly inapplicable for the purpose of determining Parish rates; (b) the Board had in any case behaved irrationally in assuming that there was no direct evidence of capital value, in maintaining the 1996 assessment calculated on the basis of rental value when it had found that method to be inapplicable, and in changing to a new method of calculation in 1997; furthermore, there was no evidence to support the figures upon which its calculation had been based; and (c) applying a proper method of calculation, the assessments in both 1996 and 1997 would have been much lower.

The Board submitted in reply that (a) because no actual rental value could be ascertained, the assessment had to be based instead on capital value using the contractor's method; (b) in the absence of any direct evidence of capital value, it had properly calculated the assessment on the basis of the costs of the property and the substantial improvements which had been made to it; and (c) it had not been irrational to use rental value in 1996 and capital value in 1997, even though it had been entitled to use the contractor's method in both years, because to use that method in 1996 would have been unfair to the representor since comparable properties in the Parish were still assessed using rental value.

Held, granting the representation:

(1) The Parish Rate Assessment Committee should clearly have provided the Board with all the relevant information in its possession under art. 9 of the Law, even though the matter was by that stage before the Royal Court for judicial review (page 372, lines 11-19).

(2) When reviewing the decision of the Board, the court had to ask itself whether the decision was one which the Board could lawfully have made, whether the proceedings of the Board had been generally sufficient and whether the decision was one to which the Board could reasonably have come, having regard to all the circumstances of the case (page 376, lines 29-36).

(3) The Board had operated under a false assumption that the representor's property was in a special category by virtue of being a large property for which there was no rental market in Jersey—a proposition for which there was in any case no evidence; nor was there any evidence that 4% was the appropriate rate of return on a hypothetical capital investment. Moreover, it had failed to take appropriate professional advice regarding the use of the contractor's method, and had not considered the merits of using the method already in use by the Assessment Committee for rating valuation of all types of residential property. It had also failed to consider the implications of its change of policy: it would be necessary, for example, to decide what amounted to a substantial property to which the new system applied, and to create procedures for determining the capital...

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2 cases
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