The Tribunal usually sits in panels of two people, with one of them acting as chairman. The chairmen and members are local people who, like magistrates, are lay volunteers. They receive training and are experienced in hearing appeals. The members of the panel are independent of both the Valuation Office Agency and the council. Panels are assisted by a clerk who offers advice on the relevant law, practice and procedure.
Hearings before the Tribunal are in public, unless you can show there are exceptional grounds for the hearing to be in private*.
Normally we will give you at least several weeks’ notice of the hearing date (depending on the appeal type), although the regulations allow a minimum of 14 days’ notice, or less in exceptional or urgent circumstances. The hearing notice will tell you where and when the hearing will take place. All our hearing days start at 10.30. However, nearer the day, when we know how many people are likely to attend, we may be able to give you an approximate appointment time for when your appeal will be heard.
Maps to our hearing venues can be found here.
Before your hearing date we will contact you, either by phone or with a ‘hearing reminder’ notice to check if you will be attending the hearing and to give any help we can.
You can come to the Tribunal hearing or you can have a representative (for example, a friend, a solicitor or a surveyor) speak for you, whether or not you will be there yourself. However, if you are not going to be there, we must have a letter from you before or at the hearing confirming that that person may represent you.
If the hearing date is not one that you can attend, if you have good reason you may request a postponement*. Alternatively it is possible for you to request that your case be considered without you being there, on the basis of written evidence*.
However, it is very helpful if you come to the hearing so that you can put your case, answer any questions the panel has and ask questions of the other party (the VOA or the council). Our statistics show that a higher percentage of appellants succeed in their appeal if they do attend or are represented.
Please remember that at any time you can contact the office that has sent you notices to ask for general advice.
*Practice Statements go into many of these points in greater detail.