Your questions answered.

No, the Valuation Tribunal provides a free service and we cannot award costs against you. However, you do have to meet your own costs in going to the tribunal hearing, including any loss of earnings, and the costs of anyone you choose to represent you.

Yes. You can come to the hearing or you can choose a representative, for example, a friend or a professional adviser to speak for you. If you chose a representative to make your case, you must write to us confirming they can act for you. You should do this before the hearing or they can bring a letter with them to the hearing. For further information, please read our Practice Statement D1, Professional Representatives.

Please remember that you will have to pay the cost of using this adviser. You can also bring someone along as a witness or just to provide moral support.

No, you should continue to pay your council tax or rates bill. If the Valuation Tribunal decides your appeal in your favour, any overpayment you have made should be taken into account when your bill is re-calculated.

Yes, you can come to any of our hearings. Full details of our hearings can be found on this website, Decisions and lists, or you may contact us to ask about hearings that are coming up. Please note that, if all of the appeals due to be heard at a particular hearing are settled before that day, then the hearing will be cancelled. So it is best to contact us the day before the hearing to check that it is still going to take place.

We also have some video clips on the website, which show what a valuation tribunal hearing is like. Please click here to see the clips.

Our hearings are held in various types of buildings, such as hearing rooms in our own offices, other tribunals’ hearing rooms, halls, hotels and civic buildings. We try to ensure that the venues have good public transport links, parking and facilities, including disabled access.

If you have any extra needs (relating to communication or mobility for example) please contact us in good time before the hearing. In exceptional circumstances we may be able to arrange for the hearing to be held in your own home or somewhere else that allows you full access. Please look at the Practice Statement B4, Hearings in Private and Extraordinary Venues.

If you are coming to a hearing and need a map and/or directions to the venue you can find these here.

We try to only select venues that comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, but if you have any extra needs, please tell us as soon as possible and we will do our best to help. This help could include, for example, assistance for your mobility, sight, hearing and communication (such as a signer). We will meet the costs of providing this help and also for providing a suitable place or any equipment that is necessary to hear your appeal.

If you are coming to a hearing to present your case and you have problems understanding English, we may be able to provide an interpreter. Please tell us as soon as possible if you need an interpreter and which language you speak. We will pay the costs of providing an interpreter at the hearing.

Our guidance booklets are available in audio format. Click here to download them. You may also find the ‘Browsealoud’ feature on our website useful, click on the headphones icon.

We are independent and have to be impartial so, although we can advise you about general procedure, we cannot advise you about whether you have a good case for making an appeal or whether or not your appeal would be successful. Each case is considered on its merits.

The ‘success rate’ for appeals heard at a hearing varies, but over all appeal types in 2015, about 1 in 3 people who attended a hearing to present their case had their appeal allowed or part allowed.

We will reply to any reasonable requests for help or advice. You are welcome to visit any of our offices or to contact us by phone, fax or e-mail. As the Valuation Tribunal has to remain independent we can only advise you about general matters and we cannot tell you what evidence you have to present or whether you have a good case for appeal. You may get advice from:

For advice about business rates:

For appeals against decisions of the Valuation Office Agency on council tax proposals and against decisions of the council on council tax liability, reduction, penalty notices and completion notices, you may be able to make a late appeal.

The VTE President may authorise an appeal to be accepted where he is satisfied that you missed the deadline because of circumstances beyond your control.

Please click this link to take you to the forms section of our website where you can complete an extension of time limit appeal form to send with your appeal form. Please note that your application must include the reasons why you did not make an appeal on time. Before considering your application the VTE may ask you to provide further information or obtain the views of the other party in writing or by attending a hearing. We will let everyone involved in the appeal know the outcome.

Please note that, if your late application is rejected, there is no right of appeal against that decision. For further information, please read Practice Statement A1, Extension of Time Limits for Making Appeals.

You should note that the this power does NOT allow the President to order the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to accept a council tax proposal that is made after the deadline. If the VOA have informed you that your council tax proposal is invalid because you have missed the deadline, you can appeal to the Tribunal against this decision. However, the Tribunal can only consider whether or not your proposal was made within the statutory time limits; it has no discretion in the time limits for making a council tax proposal.

We will let you know when we have received your appeal and send you a guide that explains the appeal process and how we can help. Then we plan when we can list your appeal for hearing. We will send you a notice of hearing and this will tell you when and where your appeal will be heard. We aim to give you six weeks’ notice and the usual minimum notice is 14 days, although in some exceptional circumstances, for example if everyone agrees, it may be a shorter period.

If you cannot come to the hearing on the date we give you, you can ask us for another hearing date, or to deal with the case without you being there.

About two weeks before your hearing date we will phone you to check whether you will be attending the hearing. Or we will send you a hearing reminder notice. You should complete this and return it to us if you intend to go to the hearing. When we know how many people will be attending we can allocate an estimated start time for your appeal. Where possible we will try to take into account any preferences you may have. Please note that this start time cannot be guaranteed as it will depend on how long the previous cases on the day have taken.

Yes. You can withdraw your appeal at any time before the hearing date if you decide not to pursue your appeal.  For rating appeals you need to tell the Valuation Office Agency. For all types of council tax appeals, you can email us or fill in a withdrawal form online by following this link.

If you want to come to the hearing, you need to prepare your case before the hearing date. Please try to provide as much evidence as possible to support your case. You will be allowed to:

• give spoken and written evidence;
• present anything that you believe will help your case, such as letters, photographs or plans; and
• bring someone along to speak for you or to appear as a witness.

We expect you and the valuation officer, listing officer or council (the other ‘party’) to have discussed beforehand any evidence that each of you will present at the hearing. It is best if both of you exchange your evidence before the day so that there are no surprises at the hearing, as these may make an adjournment of your appeal necessary.

For appeals against the 2010 rating list, this exchange of evidence must take place for the hearing to proceed.

The other party’s evidence can appear fairly formal but we do not expect people presenting their own case to give their evidence in the same way as them. However, you may find it useful to prepare a written statement.

It will be useful if you can bring four copies of any written documents that you want to present in evidence (a copy for each of the two members, the clerk and the other party). Anything else, which it is difficult to get copies of, such as photographs and large plans, can be shared on the day.

Yes, but to avoid delays and unnecessary public expense, please only ask for a postponement if it is really needed. We will only give you a new hearing date if you have tried to settle your case with the Valuation Office Agency or billing authority (council) and have a good reason for not being able to make the date we have given you. Please be aware that it may be some time before we can give you a new hearing date. Before you contact us to ask for another date we will expect you to have told the valuation officer, listing officer or billing authority (council) that you consider a postponement of your case is required.

A request for a postponement should be made to the clerk of the tribunal, in writing (letter, e-mail or fax), at least three days before the hearing date you have been given. You should give full reasons why you need the case to be postponed, say whether or not you have the support of the valuation officer, listing officer or billing authority (council) and indicate how long you need before the case should be re-listed.

Your request will be acknowledged. The clerk will consider the reasons for your request and before deciding whether to give it, they will also look at:

• the complexity of the case;
• the length of notice given for the hearing;
• the time remaining before the tribunal hearing;
• whether or not the case has been previously listed for hearing;
• the number of previous requests that may have been made for the case to be postponed;
• whether or not your appeal is affected by a case that needs to be dealt with by another tribunal or higher court.

Please note that if the clerk agrees to a postponement, it may be some time before we can give you a new hearing date. You can see Practice Statement A4, Postponements and Adjournments, by clicking here.

If the clerk turns down your postponement request, they will let you know and suggest that, where possible, you or a representative should attend the hearing to ask the panel for an adjournment. An adjournment is a judicial decision, made by the tribunal members that an appeal should be heard at a later date. However, please be aware that there is no guarantee that the panel will grant you an adjournment, so it is important that you are prepared and able to present your case on the day of the hearing.

We will guide all parties through the hearing process and try to put everyone at ease. During the hearing we will ask you and the other party to give your cases. You will both be allowed to ask questions on any evidence that the other party has put forward and the panel members may ask questions if they are unclear about anything.

It is always helpful if you can come to the hearing so that you can answer any questions that we have. However, if you ask us to, we can also deal with your case without you being there. For further information, please read our Practice Statement B3, Appellant’s non-attendance.

We have some video clips on the website, which show what a valuation tribunal hearing is like.

Our guidance booklets also give more information about the hearing process. These are available online by clicking here.

Please note that if your appeal is against an invalidity notice, the panel will only consider whether or not your appeal has been validly made; it will not consider any of the reasons for your appeal. Should the panel decide that your appeal has been validly made, a new hearing date will be arranged, where the details and reasons for your appeal will be heard and considered.

At the hearing the following people will normally be present:

• The members of the Valuation Tribunal, the ‘panel’ – Usually two members will hear your appeal. One of the members will act as chairman.

• The clerk – The clerk will act as an adviser on points of procedure and law.

• A representative from the organisation whose decision you are appealing against (the valuation officer, the listing officer or the billing authority/council). You may have already met or spoken to this person during the earlier stages of your appeal.

• You and/or your representative.

• Members of the public – The hearing is open to members of the public. However, usually the only other people who come to a hearing are those who are also waiting for their case to be heard. We can hear your appeal in private if you ask us to, but you must have a good reason for this. Click here to see the Practice Statement B4 Hearings in private.

The clerk organises and co-ordinates the business of each hearing. This involves communicating with the various parties and, before the day, allocating indicative hearing times to avoid, wherever possible, anyone having to wait around too long for their case to be heard.

The clerk has a duty to:

• assist, where appropriate, appellants who are presenting their own cases;
• ensure that every case is conducted fairly; and
• provide appropriate advice to the panel. This advice must be given in public, so that parties present are able to comment on it.

During the hearing, the clerk will take notes of the evidence provided and may ask questions. The clerk will be invited to join the panel at some point during its deliberations so as to:

• understand the panel’s reasoning for its decision;
• assist the panel in dealing with any legal or technical points; and
• take notes of the panel’s reasoning and decision.

The clerk is responsible for drafting the written decision and reasons, which will then be approved by the panel members. However, the clerk plays no part in the making the decision itself.

For further information, please read Practice Statement B2, Duties and Responsibilities of the Clerk/Tribunal Officer at the Hearing.

No, not unless you are a professional representative. It is important that you feel as comfortable as possible in what may be a strange environment/situation for you. However, please note that other people at the hearing who are representing the VTS, VTE, VOA, council and any professional representatives, will be expected to dress in a manner appropriate to the proceedings.

The clerk will speak to you before the hearing to answer any questions that you may have.

When the hearing begins, the Chairman/senior member will make an opening statement and the clerk will then introduce your case.

The panel will decide who should put their case first, but if you have a preference you should let the clerk know before the hearing. Each party will then present their case which, generally, they should be allowed to do without interruption. Following each presentation, the other party, the panel and the clerk may ask questions. Each party will also be invited to sum up their case, with the appellant having the opportunity to sum up last. At this point, no new evidence should be introduced.

The clerk will be asked if they have any observations to make and, if so, all parties will be allowed to comment on those remarks. The panel will then retire to consider whether or not enough information has been provided for a decision to be made. If not, the parties may be asked more questions or the panel can issue directions, summons witnesses or make arrangements to inspect the property and/or its locality. If the panel has all the information it needs, everyone will be told that they may leave the hearing. Any decision reached by the panel will not normally be announced on the day of hearing; the decision will be reserved and sent in writing to everyone, with full reasons, within one month of the hearing.

For further information, please read Practice Statement B1, Model Procedure.

This depends on the type of appeal, but the average is between 45 minutes and one hour. It also depends on how much evidence both sides have to present. Where we can, we will offer you an approximate start time for the hearing of your appeal so that you do not have to wait around. This can only be approximate as it depends on how long the previous cases have taken to be heard.

If you are unhappy with the decision the Valuation Tribunal has reached, you can make an appeal to the Upper Tier (Lands Chamber).

You must have appeared at, or been represented at the hearing. You must make an appeal within four weeks of the date of the Valuation Tribunal’s decision. You may wish to take legal advice first, as the Upper Tribunal will charge a fee for making an appeal and costs can be awarded against the losing side.

You can get copies of the appeal form from:

The Registrar
The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber)
5th Floor Rolls Building
7 Rolls Buildings
Fetter Lane
London
EC4A 1NL
Phone: 020 7612 9710
www.gov.uk/court-tribunals/upper-tribunal-lands-chamber

If you think that the Valuation Tribunal acted outside its powers in making the decision, or that it did not act correctly at the hearing, you can apply to the High Court for a judicial review. You may wish to take legal advice first, as fees will be charged for making an appeal and costs can be awarded against the losing side.

You can contact the High Court at:

The Administrative Court
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London WC2A 2LL
Phone: 020 7947 6000
www.justice.gov.uk/courts/rcj-rolls-building/administrative-court

If you are unhappy with the decision the Valuation Tribunal has reached, you can make an appeal to the High Court.

You can only appeal to the High Court if you do not believe that the Valuation Tribunal correctly interpreted the law. You must make an appeal within four weeks of the date of the Tribunal’s decision. You may wish to take legal advice first, as the Administrative Court will charge a fee for making an appeal and costs can be awarded against the losing side.

You can get copies of the appeal form from:

The Administrative Court
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London WC2A 2LL
Phone: 020 7947 6000
www.justice.gov.uk/courts/rcj-rolls-building/administrative-court

If you think that the Valuation Tribunal acted outside its powers in making the decision, or that it did not act correctly at the hearing, you can apply to the High Court for a judicial review. You may wish to take legal advice first, as fees will be charged for making an appeal and costs can be awarded against the losing side.

Yes, providing that one of the following applies:

• A document relating to the proceedings was not sent to, or was not received at an appropriate time, by a party or its representative.
• A document relating to the proceedings was not sent to the VTE at an appropriate time.
• A party or its representative was not present at a hearing relating to the proceedings and can show reasonable cause for its absence.
• There has been some other procedural irregularity in the proceedings.
• The decision is affected by a decision of, or an appeal from, the Upper Tribunal or the High Court.
• Where the decision relates to an appeal against a completion notice, new evidence, whose existence could not have been discovered by reasonable enquiry, or could not have been foreseen, has become available since the conclusion of the proceedings.

To apply for a decision to be reviewed you must write to the VTS office dealing with your appeal within 28 days from when the decision was sent. You must say which of the grounds listed above applies and explain why it would be in the interest of justice for the decision, or part of it, to be set aside.

We will send a copy of your application to the other parties to the appeal for them to comment on (within 14 days); it will then be sent to the President, who will decide whether or not to grant your application. His decision is final.

The President may decide to review straight forward cases himself or refer the review to a panel to consider. For further information, please read Practice Statement C1, Reviewing and Setting Aside Decisions.

Usually the Tribunal panel will reserve its decision on the day and you will be notified of it in writing, with reasons. We aim to issue these written decisions within one month of the hearing. In 2015, 90% of decisions were issued within one month of the hearing.

In the case of council tax liability and reduction appeals, only a summary of the reasons will be sent to you with the decision, but you may request a full statement of reasons within two weeks of receiving the summary.

Tribunal panels make their decisions on the evidence presented to them, bearing in mind what the law (legislation and precedent case law) allows them to do. The members of the panel may ask the parties questions to find the information they need. They will retire at the end of the hearing to deliberate. They may call the clerk in to help them with legal advice and to help them draft the reasons for the decision. The clerk takes no part in the decision making itself.

If you have agreed your appeal within two weeks of the hearing, your appeal will be adjourned to allow you time to complete and return the necessary paperwork. Please let us know as soon as possible if this is the case with your appeal.

Please note that if you do not complete and return the agreement paperwork and your appeal comes before another panel at a future date, your case may be struck out.

For further information, please read Practice Statement B5, Listed appeals where the parties have reached agreement.

You can apply to have the bar lifted but you should do this within one month of the date that we sent you notification of the bar. You to need to:

• provide reasons for not complying with the direction that we sent you; and
• explain why the bar should be lifted.

For further information, please read Practice Statement C2, Applications for Reinstatement Following Striking Out and Withdrawal and Lifting of a Bar.

Yes. You have one month to apply for your case to be reinstated starting from when we received notice of your withdrawal or from the date of the hearing if you made your withdrawal there. You will need to provide reasons why your appeal should be reinstated. For further information, please read Practice Statement C2, Applications for Reinstatement Following Striking Out and Withdrawal and Lifting of a Bar.

You can apply for your case to be opened again (reinstated) but you should do this within one month of the date that we sent you notice of the strike out. You need to provide your reasons for not complying with the direction that we sent you and why your appeal should be reinstated. For further information, please read Practice Statement C2, Applications for Reinstatement Following Striking Out and Withdrawal and Lifting of a Bar.

Yes. You can either ask at a hearing or you can apply in writing to the office that sends you notices. There is a form on our website that you can use to do this. Please click here. You must state the direction you are seeking, the reason why you are making the application and the person(s) you think this should be served on.

Yes, you can apply in writing for another direction which amends, suspends or sets aside the first direction. There is a form on our website that you can use to do this.  Please click here.

It is important that you read the direction carefully and if you are unclear about anything, please contact the office that is dealing with the appeal, to discuss the matter further. Failure to comply with a notice of a direction could result in the appeal being struck out, or you being barred from the proceedings.

You should comply with the summons. However, you can apply for it to be varied or set aside. If you don’t comply with the summons, it might harm the case of the person who has requested your attendance and make it more difficult for the Tribunal to deal with the case. Please contact the office which has sent you the summons for further information on this matter or follow this link to our Practice Statement A5, Summoning of Witnesses.

In exceptional circumstances you may apply for a witness to be summoned. Preferably, you should apply in writing to the office that is dealing with your appeal, before your hearing date. You should say why the evidence of the witness is crucial to your case and why they would be unlikely to attend the hearing without being summoned. You must also agree to pay the expenses (not including fees) of the witness. We will consider the application and let you know our decision.

You can also ask to have a witness summoned when you are at the hearing. The panel will consider your request and decide whether or not to grant it. Please note that if the Tribunal does agree to summon a witness, that person should normally be given at least 14 days notice of the request that they attend the hearing.

For further information, please follow this link to our Practice Statement A5, Summoning of Witnesses.

Yes, but only in exceptional circumstances. You can apply to have the hearing held in private if, for example, you consider that a public hearing would either defeat the object of the hearing, expose confidential information, or cause distress or damage to a vulnerable person. Your request must be made in writing and sent to the office that is dealing with your appeal, stating the grounds for your request. Any supporting documentation for your request should also be provided. The other parties to your appeal will be invited to comment on the request.

As we publish Tribunal decisions on our website, you should also say if you want the decision in your case to have identifying information removed first or, in exceptional circumstances to be withheld from publication. We will then consider your request and let you know our decision.

For further information, please follow this link to our Practice Statements B4, Hearings in Private and Extraordinary Venues, and C3, Publication of Decisions.

A written submission should include the following:

• A statement of the issues that you and the council or Valuation Office Agency do not agree about.
• An explanation of the decision you are asking for from the Tribunal.
• The arguments that support your case, including legal arguments (with references).
• The evidence you believe supports your case.
• Copies of any basic documents that are necessary to support your case.
• Your signature and the details of any other parties you have sent the submission to.

Appeal heard in absence procedure. This is when the appellant is not present at a hearing, but has submitted a written case to the Tribunal to be considered at a hearing where the other party will be present. The written evidence should be sent to the Tribunal and to all other parties 14 days in advance of the hearing date. Failure to do this could result in the striking out of your appeal. Your submission must contain details of the issues in dispute, evidence to support your case, copies of any relevant supporting documentation, the decision you are seeking, details of the other parties you have sent a copy of this evidence to and the date you did so and finally, your signature, or that of your representative, and the date.

For further information, please follow the link to our Practice Statement B3 Appellant’s Non-Attendance, and A7.1 for 2010 rating list appeals Disclosure and Exchange process

The decision without hearing procedure. In these cases, the parties have agreed that neither of them will be present at a hearing, and the Valuation Tribunal has agreed that this procedure can be used. The Tribunal will direct the parties to submit a written statement of case to the Tribunal and all other parties by a specified date. The statement of case must contain details of the issues in dispute, evidence to support your case, copies of any relevant supporting documentation, the decision you are seeking, details of the other parties you have sent a copy of this evidence to and the date you did so and finally, your signature, or that of your representative, and the date. Upon receipt of this, the other parties have 21 days to respond and then the appeal will be considered by the Tribunal as soon as practicable. Please note that the panel may still decide that more information is needed and that the appeal needs a hearing.

For further information, please follow the link to our Practice Statement A6, Decision without a Hearing.

If you have a complaint about the way the Tribunal members handled the hearing (but not the decision), you should first write to the
President of the Valuation Tribunal for England,
2nd Floor 120 Leman Street,
London E1 8EU.
Telephone: 020 7426 3900
Email: vte@vts.gsi.gov.uk

If you have a complaint about the way our staff have handled your case (not the panel members or their decision), you can do the following:

• You should first write to the office about whose administration you are complaining;
• At any time, you can ask a Member of Parliament (MP) to take up your complaint, either with the Operations Manager or the Chief Executive
of the Valuation Tribunal Service. Or, if you have been through our complaints process and you are still not satisfied, you can ask an MP to pass the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman.

Click here to see our Customer Charter and Complaints Policy.

We aim to treat everyone fairly. No-one making an appeal should receive less favourable treatment because of their race, colour, nationality, age, religion, ethnic origin, sex, sexuality, marital status or disability.

We can translate our guidance booklets into Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Urdu and Vietnamese if you ask us. They are already available in audio format. Click here to download them.

If you are coming to a hearing to present your case and you have problems communicating or understanding English, we can provide assistance, for example a signer or an interpreter. Please tell us which language you speak. We will pay the costs of providing this assistance. Please let us know in good time if you have any extra needs.

You may also find the ‘Browsealoud’ feature on our website useful, click on the headphones icon.

Please check whether we already publish what you need, under our Publication Scheme. Much of the information listed in our Scheme is available on this website. If it is not, or if you require information that you think we hold but is not listed there, please email your request to foi@vts.gsi.gov.uk.

We may not deal with what you want to know. Click here to see what we have no power to do. Alternatively click here to submit your question to us.