Sir: The announcement that Makro has been successful in its appeal regarding its rates liability under the Rating (Empty Property) Act 2007 brings into question the clarification around the requirements for an exemption from business rates (‘Makro files help it win empty site case’, 7 July).
In this case, Makro acted in good faith, believing that storing a large number of valuable files in the property for over six weeks met the requirement for occupation and therefore see it awarded a second six-month rate-free period. The local authority argued the volume of files was insufficient for the property size and did not meet the occupation requirement. The Magistrates’ Court agreed.
Acting for Makro, business law firm DWF successfully appealed on the basis that, prior to the 2007 Act, local authorities would argue that any level of occupation was sufficient to bring a rate free-period to an end. The case is likely to set the precedent for cases of this type. It suggests that there could be further room for this area of the law to be addressed and brings hope to retailers across the UK that have had similar incidents with their local authorities.
Andrew Rogers, DWF LLP solicitor