Kirklees Council’s Shell Scheme Trail Brings Halt to Snail Farm Rates Avoidance

We have been awarded costs of over £16,000 following a successful prosecution for the avoidance of non-domestic rates (business rates). We brought the proceedings against the owners of 25/27 Westgate in Dewsbury, owned by Brent Street Properties, who claimed the properties were being used as a Snail Farm.

How did we realise what was going on?

Having knowledge of similar schemes elsewhere in the country, we believed that this scheme was deliberately being used to avoid paying the amount liable.  During the case, held at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court on the 17th October, District Judge, Michael Fanning heard our evidence which demonstrated that the buildings were leased under ‘sham’ agreement for a peppercorn rent to recently set-up companies. These companies would then claim to be snail farmers.  Giving evidence to the court was a heliciculturist (snail farmer) Mr Walker who had surveyed the premises highlighting that the property was not set up for any form of snail farming.

Eamonn Croston, Service Director of Finance, said:

“The Council does not tolerate any form of sham agreement to avoid payment of Rates. The team has worked hard to bring this prosecution to a successful outcome. Such schemes and dishonesty to hinder collection of revenue is something that Kirklees will continue to pursue. We hope this prosecution will act as a serious deterrent.”

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  • Empty rates are inequitable and the system needs to change. Charging an owner business rates on an empty building is like making someone who has been reduduntant pay the income tax on the income they previously received.

  • Are you doing anything about sham religious places of worship in private houses avoiding council tax?

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