A LANDMARK ruling could see business rates slashed for retailers in The Mercat.
And the impact could be felt in towns across Scotland.
Retailers and landlords in the High Street shopping centre challenged a significant increase in Rateable Values which hit them from April 2010 - and they won.
Unless an appeal is lodged, they stand to make savings of around 40 per cent.
The case was brought by three companies - Colliers International and GL Hearn on behalf of the retailers, and BNP Paribas on behalf of the landlords.
They came together to argue that depressed rents should be reflected in the rateable values of the properties.
The Fife Assessor had argued he could not do that because of the way rating legislation is framed, but the case went to the Fife Valuation Appeal Committee which ruled in favour of the businesses.
The Assessor now has 14 days to lodge an appeal.
Brian Rogan, senior surveyor at Colliers, described it as a ‘‘common sense’’ verdict.
He added: ‘‘This is a test case which is also the first step towards establishing that rateable values across Scotland should correctly reflect the current economic conditions.’’
The 2010 Rating Revaluation was based on rental values set in 2008 - before the banking crisis and economic collapse.
A previous appeal had been pursued against the 2005 Valuation Roll and cut rateable values by 45 per cent, effective from September 2009.
And it’s that figure which will now be re-instated.
Peter Muir, director and head of rating, at Colliers, explained: ‘‘We argued that common sense said we should use the rents of 2009 - the figures based on 2008 rents were before the banking crisis when everything changed.
‘‘The committee found in our favour which was the common sense approach.
‘‘For a centre like The Mercat it is good news, but it will also impact throughout Scotland.
‘‘It can be a big saving for landlords and retailers when times are hard, and goes a long way to helping to maintain their presence in the town.
‘‘It also helps landlords as a reduced rateable value can stimulate demand. Businesses looking to move into a unit may have felt the rates were too high.
‘‘Having a lower rateable value may now attract them.’’