Legal Updates

Commercial Property – Cable Network – Telecommunications - Rateable Hereditament

The case of Vtesse Networks Ltd v Bradford [2006], was heard by the Court of Appeal and concerned the ownership and use of a cable network. V provided fibre optic telecommunications networks for its customers. On the 1st of April 2003, the network in question extended over a total of 147km. Of that distance, about 4km worth of the network was housed in cables and ducts owned by V, and the other 143km worth was housed in cables and ducts belonging to third parties.

The local valuation officer proposed to enter the whole network in the ratings list for Slough, a suggestion to which V objected. The local valuation tribunal upheld V's objection. The valuation officer appealed to the Lands Tribunal, which allowed his appeal, and V appealed against that decision.

The issue which fell to be considered on V’s appeal was whether the entire network constituted a rateable hereditament of which V was in occupation. If this was the case, V would be liable for non-domestic rates on the whole, rather than only on such parts of it as were within areas otherwise owned and occupied by it.

The appeal was dismissed.  It was held that there was no basis for saying that the tribunal had misdirected itself in any way when considering the question whether the network was a unit of property, so as to form a hereditament. Furthermore, it was open to the tribunal to conclude that V was in actual occupation, and that that occupation was exclusive. It was held that as the cables and ducts which housed the network were not being shared with the third party and therefore V was not subordinate to that third party.

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© RT COOPERS, 2007. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.




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