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ATM judgement now out- Supreme court finds in favour of supermarkets in long running legal case

20 05 20 atm

Supermarkets and retailers set to gain £500 million in refunds but Rating experts slam VOA for “wasting public funds” in pursuing seven year long case.

The Supreme Court has today handed down judgement and found in favour for major supermarkets* in the long running £500 million dispute concerning business rates and ATM machines. The decision has been welcomed by experts at Colliers International, the global real estate advisers and branded a “win for common sense”. 

John Webber, Head of Business Rates said, “This is a massive relief, not only for the supermarkets involved, but also for the consumers who need access to these machines. Many would have suffered if the judgement went the other way and retailers ripped the ATMs out of their stores, to save extra rates bills, denying many in the local community free access to cash.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling upheld the judgement of November 2018 in the Court of Appeal that ruled that ATMs located both inside and outside of stores should NOT be assessed for additional business rates on top of the normal store rates costs retailers are already facing. Although the Court of Appeal refused the VOA permission to appeal against its decision, in May 2019, the Supreme Court overruled and allowed the VOA this right of appeal, a decision branded as a costly “nightmare” by Colliers at the time.

This new Supreme Court decision has however finally knocked on the head the Government’s VOA (Valuation Office Agency) claim that all ATMs both inside and outside stores such be additionally assessed.

In terms of financials the decision is massive with Colliers estimating around £500 million has been at stake. Each ATM site would have attracted an average rates liability of around £4000. The refunds to the supermarkets should be in the region of £496 million.

This decision comes as a massive relief to the big retailers, particularly since the VOA must lift the stay on all of the appeals that have snarled up the system since the duration of the case. Colliers estimated that there are approximately 40,000 cases in the system concerned with ATM business rates issue. 

According to John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers International, “This is overall a great result and we are delighted the Courts saw sense. There was a real fear that if the VOA had been successful, not only would it have led to the ripping out of ATM machines but it would also  have opened up the floodgates to assess up to 400,000 vending operations which would have been calamitous for both retailers and those operators.”

“Of course, the tragedy over all of this is the total waste of taxpayers' money  in pursuing this unnecessary and unfair claim. The Local Authorities are unlikely to have accrued for this cost and at the end of the day it is Joe Public who will suffer. Let’s hope the zealots at the VOA get back in the box and get on with dealing with the outstanding appeals instead of trying to take a swipe at the retail sector and the community at large." 

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John Webber

Head of Rating



I have over 35 years’ experience in the rating industry and lead a 135 plus rating team at Colliers.  When I took over responsibility for the team in 2005, it consisted of only a dozen people and has now grown into one of the leading rating advisory teams in the country.  I am a member of Colliers' UK Management Executive as well as sitting on the company’s Balance in Business Committee. 

I am regularly called upon by the national media to give my views on a range of business rates issues and I am involved in lobbying MPs/ministers and senior civil servants on business rates matters.

I started my career in the Valuation Office Agency in Kidderminster.  I joined Gerald Eve in 2000 where I spent 10 years before moving to Gooch Webster (now Colliers). I sit on the National Retail Panel of Rating Surveyors Association which provides guidance on how the RSA town committees work with the VOA and valuation matters.  I have also held the postion as Chair of the RICS Rating Diploma Committee having passed the prestigious qualification in 2014. I currently sit on the Rating Surveyors Association National Committee .

Along with Philip Harrison we founded 'Accurates' in 2007, the Collier's Compliance and Audit team, which although forms an integral part of the Rating team is now a leading brand in its own right.

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