Maharaj et Al v The San Fernando Corporation

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeKelsick, C.,Burke, M.,Waterman, M.
Judgment Date19 January 1973
CourtTax Appeal Board (Trinidad and Tobago)
Docket NumberL 1/1972
Date19 January 1973

Tax Appeal Board

Kelsick, C.; Burke, M.; Waterman, M.

L 1/1972

Maharaj et al
The San Fernando Corporation

George rsoi-A-Sue for the appellant.

Ramesh Maharaj for the respondent.

Cases referred to:

(1) Chadee v. The San Fernando Corporation (1967–77) 1 T.T.T.C. 425.

(2) Davies v. The San Fernando Corporation (1967–77) I T.T.T.C. 440.

(3) Garton v. Hunter [1969] 2 Q.B. 37; [1969] 2 W.L.R. 86; (1968) 112 S.J. 924.

(4) Robinson Brothers (Brewers) Ltd. v. Houghton and Chester-le-Street, Assessment Committee [1937] 2 K.B. 445; [1937] 2 All E.R. 298.

(5) Wexler v. Playle (Valuation Officer) [1960] 1 Q.B. 217; [1960] 2 W.L.R. 187; [1960] 1 All E.R. 338.

Appeal against valuation of annual rateable value of freehold hereditaments.

Real Property - Property Tax — House rates — Rateable hereditament — Reasonable rent for rated premises — Valuation of assessing the gross annual rental value — Consideration of the principles in Chadee v. The San Fernando Corporation No. L3 of 1970 — No evidence based on comparable of space rented — Finding that in the absence of testimony as to rentals paid for the comparable premises rented for a similar purpose, the previous rent was the rack rent.

The respondent fixed the annual rateable value of freehold hereditaments in San Fernando for the triennial period 1972–1974 to tax for $3,360, the appellants' sole ground of appeal was that the place in question was used as a dry goods store and recreation club and so the annual rateable value should not exceed $2,400.


the annual rateable value is the annual rent which might be reasonably expected to be paid for by a tenant for the nature of the use of the property, provided that the owner pays house rates, water rates, sewerage rates, and insurance premiums; Where the owner does not pay these, the actual or estimated amounts the tenant pays must be added back to the sum paid by the tenant; in the instant case that sum is $4,080.00 thus increasing the annual rateable value.

Appeal dismissed, annual rateable value determined by respondent increased costs fixed at $75.60 payable by the appellants.


This is an appeal against a decision of the San Fernando Corporation (hereafter called “the Corporation”) dated 29th June, 1972, fixing the annual rateable value (the “A.R.V.”) of freehold hereditaments at No. 9 Coffee Street, San Fernando (hereafter referred to as “No. 9” or “the rated premises”) at $3,360 for the triennial period 1972–1974, under the San Fernando Corporation Ordinance Ch. 39 No. 7 (hereafter called “the Ordinance”).


The ground of appeal is that the valuation is excessive for the reason that: —

the said hereditaments are used by the appellants as a dry-goods store and recreation club and the annual rateable value thereof should not exceed $2,400.


In their notice of objection to the Corporation the appellants had stated that the A.R.V. should not exceed $2,160.


In the House Rate Book the rated premises are assessed in the name of Chanda Maharaj, by whom it is stated the premises were occupied as a club and store. However the notice of objection was signed by the appellants and the decision of the Corporation confirming the A.R.V. was sent to the first appellant. The notice of assessment is to be served on the owner (s.101), who is liable to pay the annual rate or tax (s.118). The owner is defined (s. 2) in wide terms as follows:

“owner” means the person in possession of or in receipt either of the whole or of any part of the rents or profits of any land or tenement, whether in his own right or as a trustee or personal representative of any other person, or in the occupation of such land or tenement other than as a tenant from year to year, or for any less term, or as a tenant at will;


Pursuant to an application and Order made under rule 10 of the Appeal Board Rules, 1967, this appeal was heard at the Town Hall in San Fernando, a venue approved by both parties. At the hearing before this Court only two persons testified, Ganga Persad Pearaylal Maharaj, the first named appellant, who had signed the Notice of Appeal as “Co-appellant and owner” for the appellants, and Gibbs Raymond Cook, the Corporation Town Assessor.


The A.R.V. of the rated premises, which had been $1,440 prior to 1969, was fixed at $3,360 for the triennial period 1969–1971 and at the same figure for the period 1972–1974.


The law regulating the assessment of a rateable hereditament and the fixing of the house rate is set out in Part V of the Ordinance. It is ordained by section 96 that: —


The annual rateable value of any hereditament shall be the gross annual rental value of such rateable hereditament as ascertained in accordance with the provisions of section 97 of this Ordinance less such allowance for voids and loss of rent (and for these only) as the Corporation may in their discretion think fit to make.


Section 97 imposes on the Corporation the duty of fixing, and prescribes the mode of ascertaining, the A.R.V. as follows: –

  • (1) The Corporation shall be determine the gross annual rental value of every rateable hereditament within the limits of the borough.

  • (2) The Corporation shall, whether the rateable hereditament be actually used, or rented or not used or rented, consider in every case what amount of annual rent a tenant may be reasonably expected to pay for such rateable hereditament is actually maintained, used or occupied or rented, or if not actually used or occupied or rented, for which it is reasonably suitable.


  • (4) Where any rateable hereditament is leased or rented to a tenant who is under obligation to pay any rates or premiums of insurance against loss or damage by fire or otherwise in respect thereof, or who is under obligation to pay any land rent which his landlord is liable to pay to the owner of the site of such rateable hereditament then the gross annual rental value of such rateable hereditament shall be the amount of the valuation thereof ascertained in accordance with subsection (1) of this section with the addition of a sum equal to the rate computed on such valuation, and the amount of the premium payable in respect of such insurance and the land rent which the landlord is liable to pay to the owner of the site.


Subsection (3), which relates to machinery and plant, is not applicable to this assessment.


The owner of the rateable hereditament may address to the Town Clerk an objection in writing to a valuation or alteration of a valuation within 14 days of the service on him of the notice of assessment (s.102 (1)). The Corporation has to consider the objection, whereupon it may confirm the valuation objected to, increase it or reduce it. Notice in writing of the decision on the objection, which must be given to the objector, is final and binding on all parties unless the owner appeals therefrom to the Court. The Court may confirm the valuation or, applying the principles laid down in section 97, the Court may alter or amend the same as it thinks fit (s. 104(2)).


There has been no suggestion that the proper steps have not been followed by the parties in this instance and the Court's attention has been directed to: –

  • (a) An extract from the House Rate Book of the triennial period 1.1.7231.12.74 showing inter alia the valuation of $3,360 and rate of $268.80 for the rated premises– exhibit “D”.

  • (b) Letter of objection to the valuation dated 30.5.72. — Exhibit “A”.

  • (c) Letter of 10.7.72. to Mr. GP. Maharaj informing of decision by Council at a meeting on 29th June, 1972 to confirm the A.R.V. at $3,360-exhibit “B”.

  • (d) House Payment Card dated June, 1972 showing Annual Value $3,360 and Annual House Rate $268.80 — Exhibit “C”.


In the case of Chadee v. The San Fernando Cotporation No. L3 of 1970, which was followed in Gould Davies v. The San Fernando Corporation No. L 2 of 1970, in both of which judgments were delivered by this Court on 17th December, 1970, the law and practice of valuation for the purposes of assessing the “gross annual rental value”, which is the measure of the A.R.V., was dealt with in some detail. In those cases the rateable hereditaments were dwelling houses.


It would be helpful at this stage to refer to the guiding principles to which reference was made in the Chadee judgment, in which were quoted the eight principles of valuation summarized in Ryde on Rating (12th Edn.) at pages 423–424. The first five principles are as follows: –

  • (1) Each hereditament must be independently assessed.

  • (2) The hereditament to be valued must be assumed to be vacant and to let.

  • (3) It must always be the actual house or other property for the occupation of which the occupier is to be rated and it is to be valued as it in fact is — “rebus sic stantibus”, and not by reference to its value if structurally altered or put to some different mode of use.

  • (4) Every intrinsic quality and every intrinsic circumstance which tends to push the value up or down must be taken into consideration.

  • (5) The value arrived at should represent the figure at which the hypothetical landlord and tenant would come to terms as a result of bargaining for that hereditament in the light of competition or its absence in both demand and supply as a result of “the haggling of the market.


The last three principles must be altered to take account of the decision of the Court of Appeal in Garton v. Hunter [1969] 2 W.L.R. 86.


Where the particular hereditament is let at what is plainly a rack rent or there are similar hereditaments in similar economic sites so let so that they are truly comparable, that is admissible evidence of what the hypothetical tenant would pay. That evidence was formerly considered to be the “best” evidence and for that reason was alone admissible, to the exclusion of other “indirect” evidence. See Robertson Brothers (Brewers) Ltd. v. Houghton and...

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