Stanberry Investments Ltd v Commissioner of Valuation

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice Murray
Judgment Date26 February 2020
Neutral Citation[2020] IECA 33
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
Docket NumberAPPEAL NO. 2019/52
Date26 February 2020

IN THE MATTER OF SECTION 39 OF THE VALUATION ACT 2001 AND IN THE MATTER OF THE VALUATION OF PROPERTY NUMBER 788635 CAR PARK AT 47-53 CLARENDON STREET COUNTY BOROUGH OF DUBLIN APPEAL NO. VA14/5/387)

BETWEEN:
STANBERRY INVESTMENTS LIMITED
RESPONDENT
AND
COMMISSIONER OF VALUATION
APPELLANT

[2020] IECA 33

Haughton J.

Power J.

Murray J.

APPEAL NO. 2019/52

THE COURT OF APPEAL

CIVIL

Case stated – Error in law – Valuation – Appellant seeking to appeal from a judgment and order of the High Court – Whether the determination of the Valuation Tribunal was based on an error of fact

Facts: The appellant, the Commissioner of Valuation, appealed to the Court of Appeal from a judgment and order of the High Court (O’Regan J) of 8th November, 2018 and 18th January 2019, respectively. The proceedings arose from a case stated of the Valuation Tribunal to the High Court of 2nd June, 2017, as subsequently amended. That case stated was made pursuant to the provisions of s. 39 of the Valuation Act 2001. The respondent, Stanberry Investments Ltd, was the owner of a car park at Clarendon Street Dublin (the subject property). The appeal arose from an order made by the Commissioner under s. 19 of the Act for the revaluation of all commercial properties in the Dublin City Council rateable valuation area. The valuation was to be ascertained as of 7th April, 2011. The subject property was valued accordingly. The valuation process comprised a proposed valuation certificate issued on 11th January, 2013 with an assessment of €1,235,000, a reduction of that following representations to €1,140,000 (16th December, 2013), an appeal to the Commissioner and revaluation by him (6th August, 2014), and an appeal from that decision by Stanberry to, and hearing before, the Tribunal (3rd September, 2014 and 15th and 16th December 2015, respectively). The valuation as appealed to the Tribunal was €1,140,000 representing a rate per car parking space of €3,000. The valuation fixed by the Tribunal in its decision of April 1st, 2016 reduced this by €250 per space, leading to a rateable valuation of the subject property of €1,045,000. The case stated followed from that determination. It identified five questions arising from the decision of the Tribunal. In the High Court, three of these questions were resolved in favour of the Commissioner, and one in favour of Stanberry. One question (which in turn arose from a number of different alleged errors of fact) was resolved partly in favour of the Commissioner, and partly in favour of Stanberry. The questions resolved in favour of the Commissioner related to the acceptance by the Tribunal of comparisons close to the subject premises, to the alleged failure of the Tribunal to take proper account of un-appealed or agreed valuations of car parks in the north city, and the Tribunal’s use of a particular method of valuation – the comparison method – as the basis for its valuation. The single question arising from a number of different alleged errors of fact was resolved in favour of the Commissioner save and insofar as it related to an admitted error in the description of a car park adjacent to a department store on the north side of the city centre – Arnott’s – which was relied upon by Stanberry as a comparator property. Having resolved the questions in this way, the High Court ordered that the matter be remitted to the Tribunal for re-hearing before a different division of the Tribunal. It was the questions resolved against the Commissioner that formed the subject of this appeal. Those two questions were framed by the Tribunal in the case stated, as follows: (1) If the appellant is correct that the determination was based on an error of fact, did the Tribunal fail to comply with s. 48(1) of the 2001 Act or arrive at the determination which was vitiated by significant errors of fact and thereby erred in law in doing so? (2) Did the Tribunal err in law in identifying the Setanta car park and Trinity Street car park as establishing the emerging tone of the list in circumstances where the valuation in respect of each such car park was under appeal? The High Court judge proposed that these two questions be answered as follows: (1) the determination of the Tribunal was based on an error of fact relevant to the Arnott’s street (sic) car park and thereby erred in law in doing so; (2) the Tribunal erred in law in having regard to or placing weight on the emerging tone of the list attributable to Setanta and Trinity Street car parks which were then under appeal.

Held by Murray J that the Court could not conclude that the admitted error in relation to the Tribunal’s description of the Arnott’s car park was other than material to its decision, and that it must conclude that the Tribunal in referring to the emerging tone of the list was erroneously referring and attaching significant weight to the valuation of properties then under appeal.

Murray J held that this appeal should be dismissed and that questions one and two in the case stated from the Tribunal should be answered as proposed by the High Court Judge.

Appeal dismissed.

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Murray delivered on the 26th day of February 2020
THE ISSUES
1

This appeal is from a Judgment and Order of the High Court (O’Regan J.) of 8th November, 2018 and 18th January 2019, respectively. The proceedings arise from a case stated of the Valuation Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’) to the High Court of 2nd June, 2017, as subsequently amended. That case stated was made pursuant to the provisions of s. 39 of the Valuation Act 2001 (‘the Act’). To avoid confusion between the parties having regard to their role in the proceedings before the Tribunal, the High Court and this Court, I shall refer to the appellant in this appeal as ‘the Commissioner’, and the respondent as ‘Stanberry’.

2

Stanberry is the owner of a car park at Clarendon Street Dublin (‘the subject property’). The car park is located on the south side of the city centre behind the department store ‘Brown Thomas’. Although the car park and Brown Thomas are in different ownership, the subject property is widely referred to as the ‘Brown Thomas car park’.

3

The appeal arises from an order made by the Commissioner under s. 19 of the Act for the revaluation of all commercial properties in the Dublin City Council rateable valuation area. The valuation was to be ascertained as of 7th April, 2011. The subject property was valued accordingly. The valuation process comprised a proposed valuation certificate issued on 11th January, 2013 with an assessment of ₠1,235,000.00, a reduction of that following representations to ₠1,140,000.00 (16th December, 2013), an appeal to the Commissioner and revaluation by him (6th August, 2014), and an appeal from that decision by Stanberry to, and hearing before, the Tribunal (3rd September, 2014 and 15th and 16th December 2015, respectively). The valuation as appealed to the Tribunal was ₠1,140,00.00 representing a rate per car parking space of ₠3,000.00. The valuation fixed by the Tribunal in its decision of April 1st, 2016 reduced this by ₠250.00 per space, leading to a rateable valuation of the subject property of ₠1,045,000.00.

4

The Case Stated followed from that determination. It identified five questions arising from the decision of the Tribunal. In the High Court, three of these questions were resolved in favour of the Commissioner, and one in favour of Stanberry. One question (which in turn arose from a number of different alleged errors of fact) was resolved partly in favour of the Commissioner, and partly in favour of Stanberry. The questions resolved in favour of the Commissioner related to the acceptance by the Tribunal of comparisons close to the subject premises, to the alleged failure of the Tribunal to take proper account of un-appealed or agreed valuations of car parks in the north city, and the Tribunal's use of a particular method of valuation – the comparison method – as the basis for its valuation.

5

The single question arising from a number of different alleged errors of fact was resolved in favour of the Commissioner save and insofar as it related to an admitted error in the description of a car park adjacent to a department store on the north side of the city centre – Arnott's – which was relied upon by Stanberry as a comparator property. I will refer to this property throughout as ‘the Arnott's car park’.

6

Having resolved the questions in this way, the High Court ordered that the matter be remitted to the Tribunal for re-hearing before a different division of the Tribunal.

7

It is the questions resolved against the Commissioner that form the subject of this appeal. Those two questions were framed by the Tribunal in the Case Stated, as follows:

(1) If the appellant is correct that the determination was based on an error of fact, did the Tribunal fail to comply with s. 48(1) of the 2001 Act or arrive at the determination which was vitiated by significant errors of fact and thereby erred in law in doing so?

(2) Did the Tribunal err in law in identifying the Setanta car park and Trinity Street car park as establishing the emerging tone of the list in circumstances where the valuation in respect of each such car park was under appeal?

8

The High Court Judge proposed that these two questions be answered as follows:

(1) The determination of the Tribunal was based on an error of fact relevant to the Arnott's street ( sic) car park and thereby erred in law in doing so.

(2) The Tribunal erred in law in having regard to or placing weight on the emerging tone of the list attributable to Setanta and Trinity Street car parks which were then under appeal.

THE PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE TRIBUNAL
9

That the Tribunal recorded in its decision an error of fact in relation to Arnott's car park is not disputed. This appeal thus presents two issues. The first is whether an error of material fact such as to justify the...

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