The Highland and Western Isles Valuation Appeal Panel has jurisdiction in relation to all such disputes relating to properties situated within the boundaries of Highland Council and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar.
The Panel currently consists of nineteen members. Members are appointed by the Sheriff Principal of Grampian, Highland and Islands. They are appointed for terms of up to five years. At the end of that term they are eligible for re-appointment. From those members the Sheriff Principal appoints a Panel Chairman and Deputy Chairmen. Presently the Panel Chairman is Mr Alastair Beattie and the Deputy Chairmen are Mr Stuart MacKenzie, Mr Bob Shorter and Mr Iain MacLeod.
Members of the Panel must reside or be engaged in business or be employed in the local authority areas of Highland Council and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar. Panel membership is voluntary and unpaid. Members have no prior knowledge of the appeals which come before them.
The Panel is assisted by a Secretary to the Panel who carries out administrative work on behalf of the Panel and tenders legal advice to assist the Panel in carrying out its functions, particularly on procedural and legal matters in connection with appeals. The Panel is also assisted by two Assistant Secretaries. Both the Secretary and Assistant Secretaries are appointed by the Sheriff Principal.
Hearings and Decisions:-
Valuation Appeal Committee hearings are normally held in public and details of forthcoming hearings can be accessed by the appropriate tab below. The decisions of the Valuation Appeal Committee and the reasons for those decisions are also matters of public record. Decisions which are substantive - i.e. not merely formal or procedural - will be published on this website.
Rateable values for commercial and industrial properties are fixed by the Assessor, who is an employee of Highland and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board. The Assessor also fixes the banding of dwellinghouses for Council Tax purposes. Disputes frequently arise as to whether or not the figure suggested by the Assessor is correct. If the matter is not capable of being resolved between the Assessor and the party concerned then the matter is regarded as a formal Appeal and is referred to the Valuation Appeal Panel for decision.
The Valuation Appeal Panel normally decides the matter by way of a hearing at which evidence is presented and legal submissions made. The Panel is a tribunal rather than a formal court and procedures are, according to the type of Appeal which is being heard, of a less formal nature than those of a court. Appeals are presented by the Assessor or one of his senior staff (or a member of the council staff in cases involving Highland Council and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar in relation to billing/finance matters) on the one hand (sometimes represented by Counsel), and on the other hand either the Ratepayer or Council Taxpayer personally or by a family member or a friend, a surveyor, solicitor or counsel. The Appeal is heard by a Committee of the Panel consisting of at least three and at most seven Panel members with either the Panel Secretary or the Assistant Panel Secretary acting as legal adviser. The Secretary/Assistant Secretary does not have a vote. The Committee Chairman controls the proceedings, and will give guidance and assistance as necessary during the hearing. The Committee of the Panel reaches its decision on the basis of the evidence and submissions presented at the hearing, after applying the law which is appropriate to the facts.
Sometimes appeals can be dealt with by written representations, where each party states their position in writing and the appeal is decided by a Valuation Appeal Committee on the basis of the written material, without seeing the parties face to face. The written representation procedure can be used only when the Assessor and the person appealing agree that it is suitable. It is best suited for cases where the facts are agreed and/or straightforward.
Many appeals are settled before the date fixed for a hearing by negotiations between the appellant and the Assessor.
Editorial control of this site is exercised by the Chairman and Secretary of the Panel.