Rex v Shoreditch Assessment Committee, Ex parte Morgan: CA 6 Jul 1910

(At KBD and CA) A ratepayer claimed that the value of his hereditament had been reduced in value. Pursuant to section 47 of the Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869, he addressed a written requisition to the overseers. The section provided that: ‘If in the course of any year the value of any hereditament is increased by the addition of . . any building, or is from any cause increased or reduced in value . . (1) The overseers of the parish . . on the written requisition of . . any ratepayer . . shall, send to the assessment committee a provisional list containing the gross and rateable value as so increased or reduced of such hereditament.’ The section further provided that a person sending a requisition had to send a copy of it to the clerk to the assessment committee. The section further provided that if within fourteen days after the service of the requisition on the overseers they made default in sending the provisional list, then the clerk to the assessment committee was required forthwith to summon the assessment committee: ‘and the assessment committee shall appoint a person to make such provisional list, in the same manner as is in this Act provided in the case of the overseers failing to transmit a valuation list.’
After the ratepayer had addressed his written requisition to the overseers they failed, as required, to send a provisional list to the assessment committee. Because of the default of the overseers the assessment committee was summoned. The assessment committee instead of appointing a person to make a provisional list proceeded to consider the matter themselves and after hearing the ratepayer’s representative passed a resolution that they found as a question of fact that the premises had not been reduced in value during the year so as to warrant the committee appointing a person to make a provisional list.
Held: The ratepayer was entitled to a mandamus commanding the assessment committee to appoint a person to make a provisional list. Provided that there was prima facie evidence of a reduction in value, as it was held that there was, then it seemed plain on the wording of the section that the assessment committee were under obligation to ‘appoint a person to make such provisional list.’
Cozens-Hardy MR explained: ‘The ascertainment of the fact of reduction cannot be a condition precedent to the putting in force of the machinery by which it may be ascertained whether in truth there has been any reduction in value.’
Farwell LJ said that the ascertainment of the proper limits of the tribunal’s power of decision is a task for the court: ‘Subjection in this respect to the High Court is a necessary and inseparable incident for all tribunals of limited jurisdiction; for the existence of the limit necessitates an authority to determine and enforce it: it is a contradiction in terms to create a tribunal with limited jurisdiction and unlimited power to determine such limit at its own will and pleasure – such a tribunal would be autocratic, not limited – and it is immaterial whether the decision of the inferior tribunal on the question of the existence or non-existence of its own jurisdictions is founded on law or fact.’
Cozens-Hardy MR, Farwell LJ
[1910] 2 KB 859, [1910] UKLawRpKQB 121
Valuation (Metropolis) Act 1869
England and Wales
Cited by:
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The plaintiffs had owned mining property in Egypt. Their interests were damaged and or sequestrated and they sought compensation from the Respondent Commission. The plaintiffs brought an action for the declaration rejecting their claims was a . .

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Updated: 20 September 2021; Ref: scu.653281