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City commercial and insurance specialist Hextalls has won a unique High Court victory against the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), saving up to £2.9m in tax bills for client British Waterways.
British Waterways, the body responsible for maintaining Britain's 2,000km network of rivers and canals, had been ordered to pay new business rates following a revaluation of its property, from nothing to £1.7m.
The case was heard in March after the ODPM introduced regulations meaning that British Waterways was not eligible for transitional relief afforded to other businesses to ensure that the increases were phased in over the next four years.
The new regulations excluded properties that had previously had a rating value of zero pounds. British Waterways is believed to be the only ratepayer in the country in this situation.
Led by Sara Partington, a partner in the firm's 23-partner dispute resolution team, Hextalls brought a claim for a judicial review of the ODPM's decision to introduce the regulations without consultation.
Hextalls instructed Dinah Rose of Blackstone Chambers. The Treasury Solicitor's office advised the ODPM.
The High Court judgment found in favour of British Waterways, and ordered the ODPM to repay more than £400,000 that British Waterways had already paid to it before the challenge was brought.