Gilmore v Baker-Carr

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
JudgeTHE MASTER OF THE ROLLS,LORD JUSTICE DONOVAN,LORD JUSTICE PEARSON
Judgment Date02 July 1962
Judgment citation (vLex)[1962] EWCA Civ J0702-1

[1962] EWCA Civ J0702-1

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

From the Lands Tribunal

Before:

The Master of The Rolls

(Lord Denning)

Lord Justice Donovan and

Lord Justice Pearson

L. J. Gilmore (Valuation Officer)
Appellant Respondent
and
D. H. Baker-Carr and Others
Respondents Appellants

MR G. D. SQUIBB, Q. C. and MR JOHN SHAW (instructed by Messrs Linklaters and Paines) appeared as Counsel for the Appellants.

MR J. RAMSAY WILLIS, Q. C, and MR J. RAYMOND PHILLIPS (instructed by the Solicitor of Inland Revenue) appeared as Counsel for the Respondent.

THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS
1

The facta in these oases are stated in the Case Stated by the Lands Tribunal and the Decision annexed thereto: and I need only summarise them for present purposes.

2

The case concerns broiler houses for rearing chickens. It is an activity which has grown considerably within the last seven or eight years. A broiler house is a vast shed. Thousands of chicks are brought there when they are one day old. They are kept In artificial light and fed on special foods for ten or twelve weeks, when they are taken away in crates for killing. The equipment and utensils are then taken outside for a day or two and sterilised In the open air. Then they are put back into the shed ready for the next batch of chicks. And so the process goes on: a new batch every three months. There Is, of course, a good deal of litter left in the shed from their droppings. This Is cleared out once or twice a year, or even more often, and stacked outside. It Is rather a problem to know how to get rid of it. Some people use It as a fertiliser: others get It taken away. Apart from this sterilisation of equipment and stacking of litter, all the operations take place inside the broiler house. The chicks never see the light of day.

3

These broiler houses are often sited in a place by themselves. This Is desirable so as to reduce the risk of infection of the chicks by disease or their disturbance by noise. In five of the cases before us the broiler houses are owned by farmers who farm the surrounding land. In the other two cases the owners are not general farmers, but only broiler house keepers. In one of them the broiler house Is situated In a disused brickyard. They sometimes have a concrete floor but at other times the floor is simply earth.

4

The question is whether the occupier of a broiler house is liable to pay rates on it. The answer is that he is liable unless it is an "agricultural building". Section 67 of the Local Government Act 1929 says that no person shall be liable to pay rates "in respect of any agricultural land or agricultural building". In order to find out what these expressions mean, we have to turn to Section 2, sub-section (2) of the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Act, 1928, which says (so far as material) that: "'Agricultural land' means any land used as arable, meadow or pasture ground only…land exceeding one quarter of an acre used for the purpose of poultry farming…." "'Agricultural buildings' means buildings (other than dwelling houses) occupied together with agricultural land or being or forming part of a market garden and In either case used solely in connection with agricultural operations thereon". The phrase "agricultural operations" is not defined but I should have thought that It meant operations by way of cultivating the soil or rearing of livestock.

5

In applying these definitions to the seven cases before us, these points arise. First, a broiler house Is clearly used for the purpose of poultry farming: but is it "land" used for the purpose of poultry farming? I think not. It is a "building" and not "land". The Act draws a clear distinction between "buildings" and "land" and those terms are mutually exclusive hero, just as they were In Smith v. Richmond, in 1899 Appeal Cases, p. 448. I have no doubt that the whole of a broiler house, including the earth on which it stands, is a "building" and not "land". It makes no difference what the floor Is made of. It may be of concrete or of natural earth, but still the whole of It, floor and all, is a "building" for the purposes of this Act. The broiler houses which have an earth floor stand, therefore, on the same footing as the others.

6

Second, in order to be an "agricultural building", the building must be occupied together with agricultural land, and this means, I think, agricultural land other than the site of the building Itself, You have to find, occupied by the same person, some agricultural land on which agricultural operations are carried on: and then find that the building Is used solely In connection with those operations on that land, end not in connection with operations on some other land: see Perrins v. Draper, 1953, 1 Weekly Law Reports, p. 1178. The typical case is the cowshed where the farmer milks his cows or the barn where he stores his corn.

7

Third, can this small area of land next to the broiler house (which Is used for sterilising equlpment and stacking litter) be said to be "agricultural land"? I think not. It is obviously not arable, meadow or pasture ground: and it can only be brought within the definition of agricultural land if it is more than a quarter of an acre in extent (which I will assume it is) and also if it is "used for the purpose of poultry farming". How whilst I recognise that the broiler house itself is used for the purpose of poultry farming, I do not think this small area of land next to It is used for that purpose. It is used in connection with poultry farming but not for the purpose of poultry farming. I know this is a fine distinction: but I believe it to be a real one. The land must be actually devoted to the raising of poultry in order to qualify for exemption from rates, and not merely to an Incidental object. Thus, the usual chicken run, together with the familiar movable chicken houses, can properly be said to be used for the purposes of poultry farming; and if it exceeds a quarter of an acre, It is "agricultural land" within the definition. But I do not think that in assessing the quarter of an acre you should include the Shed where the poultry farmer keeps his tools or stores his corn: nor should you Include the place where the poultry farmer storilises his equipment or stacks the litter. The reason is because, although that small area Is used in connection with poultry farming, it is not used for the purpose of it.

8

Fourth, the large area of land occupied by farmers In five of the cases (which I will assume Is arable, meadow or pasture ground) is, of course, "agricultural land": but it is of no relovance for present Purposes. The simple reason is because the broiler house is not used in connection with any "agricultural operations thereon": the only agricultural operations on this area are the ordinary operations of ploughing, sowing, grazing of animals, and the like. They have nothing to do with the broiler house. it is true that this larger area is of some use for the purposes of the broiler house because it may form a protective shield against infection or noise: see wcastle City Council v. Royal Newcastle Hospital, 1959 Appeal Cases, p. 248. But a protective shield is not an agricultural operation. This larger area can be dismissed, because there are no agricultural operations thereon which have any connection with the broiler house. Herein lies the distinction between this case and Thompson v. Milk Marketing Board. 1958, 2 Queen's Bench, where the agricultural operations on the 29 acres were closely connected with the buildings where the bulls were kept. And also the ional Pig Progeny case, 1960, 1 Weekly Law Reports, p. 1265, where the agricultural operations on the seven acres might in the future be connected with the building (the litter tosting station) but were not at the time. You must always find some connection between the use of the buildings and the agricultural operations on the land.

9

My conclusion is, therefore, that the broiler houses in five of the cases are occupied together with agricultural landbut they are not used in connection with any agricultural operation on that land. They are not, therefore, "agricultural buildings" within the definition, The broiler houses in the remaining two oases are not occupied together with any agricultural land at all. They are, therefore, not "agricultural buildings".

10

I find myself in agreement with the Lands Tribunal and I would dismiss these appeals.

LORD JUSTICE DONOVAN
11

This is the latest of a series of cases in which the ratepayer is claiming the exemption from rating conferred by the Local Government Act, 1929, Section 67, upon agricultural land and buildings. in order to qualify...

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