For those that weren’t able to make it to the IRRV Annual Scottish Conference here’s what presenters had to say following a consultation on Business Rates Valuation Appeals and whether the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice Scotland 2014 Act (BADAS) has actually changed anything.
Following a consultation held on Business Rates Valuation Appeals, Douglas McLaren from the Scottish Government used his session to provide some key insights on the responses received. There was mention of simpler questionnaires being provided by assessors and striking the right balance between transparency versus commercial sensitivity. Respondents also called for earlier publication of draft values and a fuller and earlier exchange of information ahead of hearings.
From the Assessor side of things there was an inclination towards extending the 14 day period to 28 days, whereby the ratepayer is sent a statement of the grounds on which the valuation of the property was arrived at. When it comes to Appeals based on Material Change of Circumstances (MCC) it was felt there needed to be more definition around this and the timings of when these can be lodged.
There was also a need to know more about who made up the Valuation panels it was felt more training was required as well as clarification on how appointments to the role were made. Part of the consultation mooted the idea of appeals having a fee associated with them when lodged, but there appeared to be mixed views on this with a body of opinion against this.
In terms of the actual administrative processing of this, it was felt there should be more exchanges by email but valuation notices should still be delivered on paper to premises. Ultimately Douglas commented that the Government were looking to create a fair, efficient and proportionate framework which allowed Scotland to maintain its competitive advantage for business.
From the legislative side of things, Kelly Jones from Grant Thornton presented a session on the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice Scotland 2014 Act to identify whether the legislation has actually changed anything. Kelly noted that it is now more difficult for people in Scotland to declare themselves bankrupt as this must be done through an advisor with a debtor bankruptcy application submitted.
Another key element is the compulsory use of a common financial tool meaning money advisors or insolvency practitioners, have to assess everyone in the same way and evidence must be submitted to ensure that expenditure claimed as part of bankruptcy is genuine.
Discharge from bankruptcy was previously one year unless delinquent behaviour was apparent, but under BADAS the discharge has to be earnt, the onus is on the individual to show they have cooperated and they must have a declaration from a trustee to support this. This goes some way to try and deter repeat offenders and those who think they can just sit it out, they must actively engage with a trustee or they can remain bankrupt indefinitely. Ultimately Kelly notes that it is a creditor friendly piece of legislation ensuring individuals have less ability to manipulate circumstances to their advantage.
We hope you have enjoyed our series of blog articles covering some of the highlights from the IRRV Crieff conference you can access the other articles in the series by clicking on the links below.