On Wednesday 18 March 2020, Mr Justice Saini issued judgment in ATOS IT Services Limited v Fylde Borough Council. The case involved a challenge, by ATOS, to liability for non-domestic (i.e. business) rates in circumstances where the person said to be liable does not occupy the entirety of the unit of property (the hereditament) identified in the relevant ratings list.
ATOS argued that it was not liable for business rates because it did not occupy the whole of the unit of property identified on the ratings list (Serco House). That was because it had sublet a portion of the property. It argued that one of the conditions for liability for business rates, exclusive occupation, was not satisfied in these circumstances. Fylde Borough Council argued that in these circumstances the appropriate remedy for ATOS was to appeal the valuation, to have the ratings list subdivided. Mr Justice Sanai held that in these circumstances, the case law regarding the requirement for exclusive occupation applied, and that, accordingly, ATOS was not liable for business rates until the rating list accurately reflected the property it occupied.
Jennifer Thelen represented Fylde Borough Council.
The judgment can be found here.