High Court throws Business Rates loophole wide open

A recent High Court ruling by Mr Justice Jarman QC has finally endorsed one of the more ‘imaginative’ means of avoiding business rates (NNDR) on empty commercial property, reports Aidan Briggs.

The case involved the cash-and-carry chain Makro, which used a 140,000 sq ft warehouse to store 16 palettes of documents for a six-week period between November 2009 and January 2010 – this amounted to using 0.2% of the available floor space. Nevertheless, the Court held that this six-week period was sufficient occupation to give Makro another six months’ relief from business rates; a saving of £117,000.

Businesses have sought ever more inventive ways to minimise their business rates liabilities since the removal of empty rates relief in April 2011, which is the subject of growing clamour from the business community to Westminster.

Aidan Briggs’ article on the Makro decision will be published in the 7 September edition of the New Law Journal.