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Eversheds Sutherland wins landmark High Court case

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    Established client succeeds in ground-breaking business rates decision

    Eversheds Sutherland, acting on behalf of Principled Offsite Logistics Ltd (Principled), has successfully won a multi-million pound High Court business rates case following a lengthy litigation against Trafford Borough Council. The ruling states the storage model employed by Principled to mitigate rating liability for its clients is sufficient to constitute beneficial occupation – a ground-breaking decision which will be welcomed by corporate occupiers nationwide.

    The case is the first in the UK to deal with the interpretation of what constitutes rateable occupation and will now be adopted by local authorities across the country.

    Principled assists corporate occupiers to save money on their business rates bills by utilising empty properties and triggering a statutory tax relief. It shares any savings with its clients. Trafford Council challenged their business model which led to Principled issuing a judicial review action against the Council’s decision-making process.

    The Hon Mr Justice Kerr agreed with Principled that its motivation for occupation such as tax saving was irrelevant and it could be said to be in occupation where the primary benefit came through the occupation itself and not an independent commercial purpose.

    The Eversheds Sutherland team was led by Real Estate Litigation Partner and Head of Business Rates, Richard New.

    Richard commented:

    “The decision has been widely-awaited by the commercial occupier and business rates communities and I am delighted that our client’s argument was favoured by the Court. Principled Offsite Logistics fully bought into the strategy we advocated and it is extremely pleasing to come out on the right side of a heavyweight contest. The ruling reinforces our position as market leaders in contentious business rates claims.”

    Steve Dawson, Managing Director of Principled Offsite Logistics, said:

    “This is a ringing endorsement for Principled’s business model and has laid down a sensible approach to the business we run. The team at Eversheds Sutherland was superb; it was truly innovative to take this type of claim to judicial review and we were vindicated after years of dispute. We are proud to taken the initiative on this issue and are happy to blaze a trail for the rates mitigation industry.”

    Business rates account for over £33bn per annum for the government.

    For more information on Eversheds Sutherland, visit


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