St. Vincent's Healthcare Group Ltd -v- Commissioner of Valuation, (2009)

Docket Number:2007 404 SS
Party Name:St. Vincent's Healthcare Group Ltd, Commissioner of Valuation
Judge:Cooke J.
 
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THE HIGH COURT2007 404 SS

IN THE MATTER OF THE VALUATION ACT 2001

BETWEEN/

ST. VINCENT'S HEALTHCARE GROUP LTDAPPELLANTAND

COMMISSIONER OF VALUATIONRESPONDENT

JUDGMENT of Mr Justice Cooke delivered on the 26th day of February, 2009.

Introduction

1. On 19th December, 2006, the Valuation Tribunal ("the Tribunal") issued its determination on an appeal by St. Vincent's Hospital Healthcare Group Ltd. ("the appellant") against the fixing by the Commissioner of Valuation of 1,400 as the rateable valuation of a "relevant property" comprising a car park at lot 103 - 127A (part of) Merrion Road, D, Pembroke East, in the County Borough of Dublin. The property in question is a purpose built, stand alone, multi-storey car park which is built, owned by and operated for the appellant within the grounds of its hospital at Merrion Road, Dublin 4.

2. The appellant, having expressed dissatisfaction with that determination, required the Tribunal to state this case pursuant to s. 39 of the Valuation Act 2001 ("The Act"). The sole issue that is raised for the opinion of this Court is whether the Tribunal's determination that the property in question is not a "relevant property not rateable" in accordance with Schedule 4 of the Act, is correct. In effect, the issue thus raised turns upon the question as to whether this car park in the grounds of the appellant's hospital is entitled to be treated as exempt from rates under one or other of headings No's. 8 and 16 of the list of properties designated as "relevant properties not rateable" in that Schedule.

3. The Act has the effect of repealing and re-enacting in consolidated but substantially revised and modernised form almost the entirety of the law relating to the valuation of property for rating purposes in this jurisdiction since 1838. The terminology familiar to practitioners in this field of rateable "hereditaments" and "tenements" has been replaced by the term "rateable property" and Schedule 4 of the Act lists 19 types or categories of relevant property which are designated as "not rateable" by s. 15(2) of the Act.

4. The properties specified at headings 8 and 16 of Schedule 4 are defined as follows:-

"8.- Any land, building or part of a building used by a body for the purposes of caring for sick persons, for the treatment of illnesses or as a maternity hospital, being either -(a) a body which is not established and the affairs of which are not conducted for the purpose of making a private profit from an activity as aforesaid or,

(b) a body the expenses incurred by which in carrying on an activity as aforesaid are defrayed wholly or mainly out of moneys provided by the Exchequer and the care or treatment provided by which is made available to the general public (whether with or without a charge being made therefor).16. - Any land, building or part of a building which is occupied by a body, being either -

(a) a charitable organisation that uses the land, building or part exclusively for charitable purposes and otherwise than for private profit, or

(b) a body which is not established and the affairs of which are not conducted for the purpose of making a private profit and -(i) the principal activity of which is the conservation of the natural and built endowments in the State, and

(ii) the land, building or part is used exclusively by it for the purpose of that activity and otherwise than for private profit."The case stated

5. The primary facts relating to the history, status and the use of the car park are not disputed by the parties and, so far as relevant for the purpose of this judgment can be extracted from s. 1 of the case stated and summarised as follows:-

A) The car park was built by the appellant in the grounds of its hospital at a cost to it of 17 million funded by bank borrowing and from its own resources. The building is vested in a wholly owned subsidiary of the appellant but occupied by the latter under a full repairing and insuring lease for a term of nine years and eleven months from 1st October, 2002, at an initial yearly rent of 375,000:

B) The daily operation of the car park is managed for the appellant under a service contract by Q Park Ireland Ltd;

C) The car park is a three storey structure with 450 car spaces which are available to all potential users on a first come, first served basis, no spaces being reserved for any particular user or category of user;

D) The car park is available for use by hospital staff, by patients, by visitors and others having business with the hospital and also by the general public whether visiting the hospital or not;

E) Staff users are charged a rate lower than that paid by others and on average staff account for about 50% of use. There are other car parks in the hospital specifically reserved for the use of staff;

F) There are about 2,500 staff in the hospital, most working on a shift basis;

G) All receipts from use of the car park go into the general accounts of the hospital and any surplus over costs and expenses accrues to the benefit of the appellant.

6. It is not disputed that the appellant is a "charitable organisation" within the definition of that term in s. 5 of the Act such that, where appropriate, its purposes would be "charitable purposes" within the terms of heading 16 of Schedule 4.

7. The essential basis...

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