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Senior Counsel Roger Cohen provided comments to EG and Property Week, first published May 14, after a UK Supreme Court appeal. Rossendale Borough Council and Wigan Council were the claimants against Hurstwood Properties and Property Alliance Group (as defendants). The issue was whether the defendants were liable to pay £10 million in empty rates, despite granting leases to special purpose vehicles (SPVs). The SPVs were intended to absorb the liability but without having the means to pay. The Supreme Court held that the SPVs were not liable. The liability rested with the owner in control of the premises. Reacting to the case, Cohen commented, “The ruling means that the options for owners of empty buildings to avoid empty rates are reduced. This makes the case for the reform of empty rates even stronger.”

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