Tesco, Sainsbury’s and The Co-op have won their appeal against a ruling that meant retailers had to pay business rates for cash machines situated outside their shops.
The trio of retailers are set to be reimbursed with around £300m between them following the ruling by the Court of Appeal.
The court concluded today that ATMs within existing properties – whether internal or external-facing – should not be subject to separate rating assessments.
Instead they will fall within the overall property’s rates liability.
The ruling paves the way for other retailers to claim back hundreds of millions of pounds of backdated refunds.
The Valuation Office Agency had claimed all ATMs should be liable for business rates, but Tesco, Sainsbury’s, The Co-op and Cardtronics argued that all cash machines should be included within the wider store assessment.
The court also said the VOA, which brought the original case, should not be allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court but it can still petition the court should it wish to do so.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We recognise the vital role ATMs play in the daily lives of our customers and remain committed to providing this service to them.
“We welcome today’s result and the confirmation of our belief that ATMs should not be separately rateable.”
A Co-Op spokesperson added: “The case had threatened the viability of the ATM network and risked the future of much-needed banking services across communities.”
Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, which represented Cardtronics, said: “This four-year battle has resulted in a victory for common sense and we welcome the court’s decision that ATMs shouldn’t attract separate rates bills.
“ATMs are part of the retail offer of the stores they are situated in and the VOA should never have treated them as separate businesses.”
“We especially welcome the court’s rejection of the VOA’s attempt to separately rate internal machines, the consequences of which would have been dire. The VOA readily admitted in the Court of Appeal that, if successful, its approach would have led to the likes of kiddie rides, coffee and soft drink machines each receiving their own rates bills.
“The VOA must now drop its crusade to seek out more things to assess for business rates.”
BRC director of business and regulation Tom Ironside said: “We welcome the decision. The courts have acted, where the Government has not, to relieve the pressure on the companies affected. The Government must take action to support struggling high streets. They should implement wholesale reform of a business rate system that currently places a disproportionate burden on retailers”