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Supreme Court grants council permission to appeal in key case on charities and mandatory relief from business rates

The Supreme Court has granted Merton Council permission to appeal a decision of the Court of Appeal concerning charities' eligibility for mandatory relief from non-domestic rates.

Serle Court Chambers said at issue in particular was the question whether for premises to be eligible for relief they must be used for the public benefit as that concept has been developed in charity law.

In Nuffield Health v London Borough of Merton [2021] EWCA Civ 826 the Court of Appeal dismissed the council’s appeal over whether Nuffield Health was entitled to mandatory relief from non-domestic rates in respect of its occupation of premises at Merton Abbey, 29 Chapter Way, London.

Merton had argued that Nuffield Health should pay rates on the fitness centre since although the organisation is constituted as a charity it runs in effect as a business.

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However, when the case reached the High Court a judge made a declaration that Nuffield Health was entitled to relief and ordered the repayment of £930,823.95 by the council.

Jonathan Fowles of Serle Court acts for the London Borough of Merton, together with James Goudie QC of 11KBW and Cain Ormondroyd of Francis Taylor Building.

See also: Business rates – is the tide turning?

Paul Hilsdon and Clare Hardy examine two cases have shown that courts are prepared to look closely at the arrangements under which premises are occupied.

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