Posted on February 16, 2011 by Megan Hawley

Scope Of Councils’ Rating Powers

Councils’ powers in respect of determining categories for rating purposes, and leyving differential rates across categories, have been described by the Court of Appeal as ‘essentially unconfined’.

The Court of Appeal held last year that the rating scheme in the Local Government Act 1993, has, as its purpose, the discrimination between different categories, and that a duty to act fairly  does not have a role in the scheme.

Councils can therefore identify one category which is to bear a greater proportion of the rates burden than other categories, without being found to have acted improperly. However, in exercising its unconfined rating powers, councils should ensure that their decisions cannot be described as irrational or absurd, as they could be if, for example, the difference in rates was so extreme that it would lead to businesses in a category, for example, being unviable.