Retailers, wholesalers and suppliers stuck with empty sites have one fewer headache to contend with after a landmark court ruling made it easier to avoid punitive taxes on empty properties.

Under the Rating Act, businesses face full rates if their property is empty for more than six months, but the clock resets if the building is then occupied for more than six weeks.

Makro clashed with Nuneaton Council over what qualified as occupancy after it closed its Coventry site in 2009. The site was empty for six months but Makro then stored files in the warehouse for six weeks. Makro successfully argued in the High Court this constituted occupancy as the files were at the site and of value to it.