Valuation tribunal judgement for 4 Barleycroft Green, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6JY and others

Gavin Johnstone made this Freedom of Information request to Valuation Tribunal Service

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Gavin Johnstone

Dear Valuation Tribunal Service,

You may recall I have previously asked for council tax banding judgements in Croydon, which you did not held, and you advised me that you held council tax banding judgements as far back as 1999.

I see now that only six years' worth of council tax banding appeal judgements are available to search on your website. I have just telephoned your offices; one of your staff members told me that the earlier decisions had been archived.

Could you please retrieve from archives and send me the council tax banding judgement for 4 Barleycroft Green, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6JY.

Could you also please search the archives for any other council tax banding appeal judgements in the AL8 postcode area in which the appealed council tax band was either E or F, and send me those judgements as well.

Thanks in advance

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Johnstone

Gavin Johnstone

Dear Valuation Tribunal Service,

Sorry I meant to say "F and G" in place of "E and F"

Could you please send the 4 Barleycroft Green judgement any other archived VTS council tax banding judgements for AL8 where the appealed band was F or G.

Many thanks

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Johnstone

Diane Russell, Valuation Tribunal Service

Dear Mr Johnstone

VTS 4-20-378

Thank you for your request for decisions under the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately the member of staff misinformed you. Under the regulations that govern the Valuation Tribunal we have a statutory duty to hold records of decision for six years from the date they were made or last altered.
We also have a statutory duty under the data protection legislation to retain data no longer than we have a legitimate reason for holding it. In moving to a new appeals database we therefore took the opportunity to minimise the data we hold to the legal requirement.

I am sorry that we cannot assist you further with this enquiry therefore and apologise that you were given incorrect information. We are making sure staff are aware of the situation.

If you have any complaint about the way we have dealt with your request you may apply for an internal review. Please write, within four weeks of receiving this response, quoting the reference number above and giving your reasons, to:

Senior Information Risk Owner
Chief Executive’s Office
Valuation Tribunal Service
2nd Floor
120 Leman Street
London E1 8EU.

He will investigate and respond within 20 working days of receipt of your complaint. If you remain dissatisfied you have a right to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner. We will give you further information with the response.


Diane Russell
Data Protection Officer

2nd Floor
120 Leman Street
London E1 8EU
020 7426 3906

Working pattern Monday to Wednesday

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Gavin Johnstone

Dear Valuation Tribunal Service,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Valuation Tribunal Service's handling of my FOI request 'Valuation tribunal judgement for 4 Barleycroft Green, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6JY and others'.

I do not know about commercial rating appeals but I have looked into council tax banding appeals. Very often the case of Domblides v Listing Officer is quoted, in which His Honour Judge Bidder says the following:

"It is very important to note that the further away one gets from the 1991 list the more appropriate it becomes for the valuation tribunal or the listing officer to have regard, particularly in the interests of consistency, to the decisions of the tribunal. Mr Domblides in opening the case to me stressed the policy of the Act to ensure consistency of approach to different properties within a specific area. He is undoubtedly right in making the submission that the broad policy of the Act was to achieve that consistency. However what I do not accept is his submission to me that it is inappropriate for the tribunal or the List Officer to take account of previous appeals of the valuation tribunal in assessing whether a particular property is similar to those in previous appeals and thus falls within a certain band rather than another. In my judgement it is clear that it is permissible, certainly not prohibited, by the regulations and in my judgement permissible for the tribunal in assessing what type of evidence it considers to be appropriate, to take into account previous appeals of the tribunal itself; and indeed the further one gets from the appropriate date the more weight should, in my judgement, be given by the tribunal or listing officer to those appeals."

You are telling me that there is no legitimate reason to keep Valuation Tribunal judgements for longer than six years, but it appears that the High Court has instructed you to put increasing reliance on previous decisions as time goes on. So you actually have not just a legitimate reason but pretty much an instruction from the high court to keep these decisions for as long as they are relevant, which I would say would be until the next full council tax revaluation, or possibly forever. Even if they were not to be published, they should still have been retained so they could be made available when relevant to a new appeal.

Could I please ask you to review this quite thoroughly internally. I think you should try to restore the deleted records - maybe contact a data recovery specialist? Or go through staff inboxes/outboxes, ask the Valuation Office Agency, ask the appellants themselves?

I look forward to hearing from you.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Johnstone

Lee Anderson, Valuation Tribunal Service

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Johnstone


I refer to your request for an internal review of the handling of your
recent FOI request. I apologise for the delay in responding.


The information you have been provided with in the email from our Data
Protection Officer is correct in that the Valuation Tribunal Service (VTS)
has a statutory duty to hold records of decision for six years from the
date they were made or last altered. In managing our current IT
applications, the VTS is complying with this duty and is focused on a
commitment to also comply with the requirements of Article 5(1)(e) of the
General Data Protection Regulation in that we aim to retain data no longer
than we have a legitimate reason for holding it.


Please note, that we do maintain limited access to our legacy database for
the sole purpose of managing end of list Non Domestic Rate appeal cases.
We have undertaken an exercise to establish whether we can call back from
this application historic CT decisions. Our search facility in this area
is limited and we will need to treat any future requests for information
on a case by case basis.  I am however pleased to confirm that we have
been able to access the decision for 4 Barleycroft Green and identify one
other appeal decision in the “AL8” postcode area (within Band F or G). The
documents are attached above.  


For your information, we have now issued an updated internal instruction
to staff advising that any request for decisions (dating back more than 6
years) should be treated as an FOI request. Subject to existing financial
limits on FOI requests we will seek to provide any decision records that
may be accessible via our legacy application.


I am sorry for any inconvenience caused but trust that this now concludes
the matter to your satisfaction. If I am able to provide any additional
assistance then please do not hesitate to come back to me.


Yours sincerely,


Lee Anderson


Lee Anderson BSc (Hons) IRRV (Hons)

Senior Information Risk Owner

Valuation Tribunal Service

2nd Floor, 120 Leman Street

London E1 8EU.


Telephone:  01302 346520 [mobile number]

Email: [1][email address]

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