Lands Tribunal for Scotland


Valuation for rating - Subjects used as Whisky bottling and distribution plant - Office subjects - Subjects separated by public road - Subjects used for same business - Whether unum quid - Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act 1854, section 42

Burns Stewart Distillers plc v Assessor for Lanarkshire Valuation Joint Board
27 February 2001
LTS/VA/1999/17 & 18

Ratepayers acquired vacant factory premises and established a whisky bottling and distribution plant. They wished to relocate their head office to be near this plant. After various negotiations the local authority converted a set of eight "nest" factory units to an office with extensive storage. This new subject lay immediately opposite the bottling plant separate from it by a public road. The ratepayers were tenants of the office subjects. They established a connection between the subjects by conduits passing under the public road. These were used for electrical or electronic communication links. The ratepayers occupied other subjects in Scotland including two distilleries and another bottling and distribution plant. The said office was used as their overall head office. The two subjects operated together as part of a closely integrated business. Head office personnel exercised overall control of the bottling operations etc. The storage space on the office side held packing materials for use in the bottling plant. The ratepayers provided many examples of Scottish businesses separated by a public road but entered in valuation rolls as single units. They founded strongly on a decision in 1973 in relation to very similar subjects in Glasgow separated by a public road and connected by a conduit. In that case the Lands Valuation Appeal Court had not interfered with a Committee decision that the subjects be treated as a unum quid. It was contended that there was no basis for distinguishing this decision.

Held, after review of English and Scottish authorities, that a clear geographical separation of subjects ought to receive effect unless there were physical characteristics which would allow an observer to say that, as a matter of impression, the subjects were part of a larger identifiable unit; that the fact that subjects were in the same occupation and were occupied as part of an integrated business was of little weight and likely to be of significance only where the geographical test was not clear; that in the present case, having regard to the fact that the subjects could, admittedly, be let separately, that they were physically separate and as a matter of visual observation and impression, were distinct, there was no justification for treating them as a unum quid.

Authorities referred to:

Barratt Multi-Ownership and Hotels Limited v Central Region Assessor 1987 RA 44
Edinburgh Merchant Company Education Board v Assessor for Lothian Region 1982 SC 129
Fife Assessor v NCB 1963 SC 84
Fife Assessor v Royal Insurance Co Ltd 1969 RA 454
Gilbert v Hickinbottom & Sons Ltd 1956 2 QB 40
Harris Graphics Ltd v Williams (VO) 1989 RA 211
John Leng & Co v Assessor for Dundee 1929 SC 315
MacHarg Rennie & Lindsay Ltd, Glasgow v Assessor (2 July 1998)
Rank Xerox (UK) Ltd v Johnston 1987 RA 139
Rootes Motors (Scotland) Ltd v Assessor for Renfrewshire 1971 SLT 67
Select Service Partner Ltd v Glasgow Assessor 2000 RA 264
University of Glasgow v Assessor for Glasgow 1952 SC 504
White Horse Distillers (unreported LVAC 6 August 1979)

See full decision:  LTS/VA/1999/17 & 18