Hambleton District Council v Buxted Poultry Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtHouse of Lords
JudgeLord Templeman,Lord Oliver of Aylmerton,Lord Goff of Chieveley,Lord Mustill,Lord Slynn of Hadley
Judgment Date10 December 1992
Judgment citation (vLex)[1992] UKHL J1210-1

[1992] UKHL J1210-1

House of Lords

Lord Templeman

Lord Oliver of Aylmerton

Lord Goff of Chieveley

Lord Mustill

Lord Slynn of Hadley

Farmer (Valuation Officer) and Others
(Respondents)
and
Buxted Poultry Limited
(Appellants)
Lord Templeman

My Lords,

1

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech prepared by my noble and learned friend, Lord Slynn of Hadley. I agree with it, and for the reasons given, I too would dismiss the appeal.

Lord Oliver of Aylmerton

My Lords,

2

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech prepared by my noble and learned friend, Lord Slynn of Hadley. I agree with it, and for the reasons given, I too would dismiss the appeal.

Lord Goff of Chieveley

My Lords,

3

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech prepared by my noble and learned friend, Lord Slynn of Hadley. I agree with it, and for the reasons given, I too would dismiss the appeal.

Lord Mustill

My Lords,

4

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech prepared by my noble and learned friend, Lord Slynn of Hadley. I agree with it, and for the reasons given, I too would dismiss the appeal.

Lord Slynn of Hadley

My Lords,

5

The underlying question at issue in this appeal is whether a poultry processing factory owned, occupied and operated by the Appellant is an "agricultural building" within the meaning of section 26 of the General Rate Act 1967 and sections 1 and 2 of the Rating Act 1971, so as to be exempt from rates.

6

The Local Valuation Court (to whom an application was made by the Appellant contesting the decision of the Second Respondent) and the Lands Tribunal held that it was an "agricultural building" and was exempt. The Court of Appeal held that the Lands Tribunal had misdirected itself in law and remitted the question to the Lands Tribunal [1992] 1 W.L.R. 330.

7

By section 26 of the General Rate Act 1967 no agricultural land or agricultural buildings are liable to be rated or included in any valuation list. By sub-section 4:

"In this section the expression 'agricultural buildings' —

  • (a) means buildings (other than dwellings) 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; and

  • (b) includes a building which is used solely in connection with agricultural operations carried on on agricultural land and which is occupied either —

    • (i) by the occupiers of all that land; or

    • (ii) by individuals who are appointed by the said occupiers for the time being to manage …"

8

By section 1 of the Rating Act 1971, the definition of "agricultural buildings" in section 26 of the 1967 Act is extended for purposes of derating. The extensions include section

"2 Livestock Buildings

(1) Subject to subsections (2) to (4) of this section, each of the following is an agricultural building by virtue of this section —

  • (a) any building used for the keeping or breeding of livestock; and

  • (b) any building (other than a dwelling) which is occupied together with one or more buildings falling within paragraph (a) above and is used in connection with the operations carried on in that building or those buildings.

(2) A building used as mentioned in subsection (1)(a) of this section is not an agricultural building by virtue of this section unless either —

  • (a) it is solely so used; or

  • (b) it is occupied together with agricultural land (as defined in the principal section) and used also in connection with agricultural operations on that land, and that other use together with the use mentioned in subsection (1)(a) of this section is its sole use.

(3) A building occupied and used as mentioned in subsection (1)(b) of this section is not an agricultural building by virtue of this section unless either —

  • (a) it is solely so used; or

  • (b) it is occupied also together with agricultural land (as defined in the principal section) and used also in connection with agricultural operations on that land and that other use together with the use mentioned in subsection (1)(b) of this section is its sole use.

(4) A building is not an agricultural building by virtue of this section unless it is surrounded by or contiguous to an area of agricultural land (as defined in the principal section) which amounts to not less than [two hectares]; …"

9

But for the purpose of deciding whether a building is so surrounded by or contiguous to an area of agricultural land certain items are to be disregarded.

10

The Lands Tribunal found that the objects of the appellant company included the breeding, rearing, slaughtering, processing, packing, selling and distributing of turkeys and chickens for human consumption. For this purpose it owned and occupied 67 poultry breeding and rearing farms situated between a quarter of a mile and 120 miles from the hereditaments in question at Dalton, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, where the appellant owned and occupied a provender mill and premises and a separate processing factory and premises.

11

The mill produced and supplied to the 67 farms pelletted feed for consumption by the poultry but it also supplied 6 to 8% of its total production (amounting to between 162/216 tonnes per week) to farms occupied by independent turkey rearers. The Lands Tribunal accepted that the provender mill was both occupied together with the farms and used solely in connection with them. The Court of Appeal rejected both of these contentions. The 6% to 8% supplied to other farmers prevented the supply from being the sole use in connection with the appellant's farms and even if the de minimis rule applied (which as a matter of construction the Court of Appeal found that it did not) this quantity was not de minimis. There has been no appeal to your Lordships' House from that decision.

12

The factory received the substantial production (though not the entire production) of poultry from 48 of the farms, again scattered over a very large area. Poultry was not received from other farms. The poultry was processed at the factory and either frozen or sold fresh to depots. The Court of Appeal, like the Lands Tribunal, accepted that the factory itself was used solely in connection with the operations carried on at the 48 broiler rearing houses on the farms. The Court of Appeal, however, regarded the Lands Tribunal's decision, that the ancillary buildings (a sales office, shop and maintenance workshop) were so linked to the factory that they could be regarded as solely used for the same purposes, as one of fact and degree which could not be set aside. There is no appeal from that part of the Court of Appeal's decision.

13

The sole question, therefore, is whether the factory can be said to have been "occupied together with" buildings used for the keeping or breeding of livestock so as to satisfy the requirements of section 2(1)(b) of the 1971 Act.

14

The appellant's case is that the factory was occupied together with those buildings since they were both occupied by the same person, they were both so occupied during the same period and they both took part in one continuous process of rearing, slaughtering and preparing poultry for sale so that a test of functional unity was satisfied. There is no requirement that the relevant building should be contiguous or adjacent to the farms. The absence of contiguity in the present case was not found by the Lands Tribunal to prevent the factory being "occupied together with" the broiler houses. That is a question of fact and degree which cannot be interfered with on appeal.

15

The Lands Tribunal in the present case found that the distance of the factory from the farms did not appear to weaken the functional link...

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2 cases
  • Woolway v Mazars
    • United Kingdom
    • Supreme Court
    • 29 July 2015
    ...was cited with approval by Lord Slynn of Hadley, delivering the only reasoned speech in the English valuation case of Hambleton District Council v Buxted Poultry Ltd [1993] AC 369, 11 More recently, in Burn Stewart Distillers plc v Lanarkshire Valuation Joint Board [2001] RA 110, the Lands......
  • Decision Nº RA 60 2014. Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), 15-10-2015 , [2015] UKUT 0548 (LC)
    • United Kingdom
    • Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber)
    • 15 October 2015
    ...for the Respondent © CROWN COPYRIGHT 2015 The following cases are referred to in this decision: Farmer (VO) v Buxted Poultry Ltd [1993] AC 369 Kenya Aid Programme v Sheffield City Council [2013] EWHC 54 (Admin) Makro Properties Ltd v Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council [2012] EWHC 2250 (Adm......

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