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April 2012 Insight – Faculty Board update


In addition to chairing the Institute’s Valuation Faculty Board, I am Vice-Chairman of its Education and Membership Committee. These two interests have come together in recent months in establishing a new valuation qualification course. I am delighted that the Institute has forged a link with the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) in Cirencester, who will be our delivery partner for new Institute-approved qualifications.

With the RAC, we are developing a three-year full-time equivalent course which will be followed by part time/distance learning. Students who complete the first year successfully can be awarded a Certificate in Higher Education, which can lead in the second year to a diploma and the Institute’s IRRV (Dip) qualification. Students who continue their studies and complete, successfully, the third year of the course will be gain a BSc (Hons) and the IRRV (Hons) designation. Subject to RAC accreditation, students will be able to enrol onto the first year (level 4) to commence study in September 2012. Second year study (level 5) will be available from September 2013 and final year study (level 6) from September 2014. This course will be recognised for European accreditation purposes.

Modules for the first year include, valuation, law, introduction to property economics, building technology, landscape modelling, business finance, property transactions and the professional environment.

Great flexibility to learning methods is offered, via face to face teaching, private study and study in the workplace, formative and summative assessments. Student attendances at the RAC (a minimum of two per academic year) would be for a minimum of two days each. Part time and distance learning students would be expected to be in appropriate employment. When registered, students would have full access to all College facilities, and a personal tutor (available by appointment for videoconferencing, on Skype) would be appointed to provide academic support appropriate to the mode of study. The teaching methodology is very similar to that of the Open University, except that greater use of IT is made.

Employers will keep students in their offices and earning salary while gaining experience and improving their academic status. The overall costs will vary according to the requirements of each employer.

We already have a dozen students lined up for the September 2012 intake. Full details about the courses are available from the Institute’s Education section.

The Institute joined forces with the RICS and RSA recently to submit a response to the report released by the Senior President of Tribunals on Costs in Tribunals.

We understand that the President of the VTE has indicated that he would be in favour of a small scale costs sanction to enforce procedure. However, the proposal of the CRG goes much further, and raises the prospect of the award of unlimited costs against one party. In the context of a rating or a council tax appeal, this seems to be wholly wrong. Unless an order were to be made against a professional representative, personally, the burden would fall upon their client.

Rating and council tax appeals by their very nature involve a government agent as one of the parties. There might be a significant imbalance between the parties in terms of the resources which they can apply to their case, and this could deter many ratepayers and council taxpayers from pursuing their cases unless there were a truly strong prospect of success. Access to justice would, thereby, be restricted, which we feel to be wrong.

We understand that it is Treasury policy that the cost of services is generally to be recovered from users of such services, the balance being funded by taxation. We do question, however, whether it is right that the public should be charged by the state for challenging the burden of taxation placed upon it – by the state! Such a course seems to us to be fundamentally unjust, and a course which militates against access to justice.

The Valuation Tribunals cost the Exchequer less than £9m a year - they provide a service which smooths the flow of billions in local taxation. Surely this represents outstanding value for public money spent, and far outweighs the cost, in social terms, of limiting access to justice for millions of citizens and others, in this way.

Finally, in other Board news, I am pleased to report that Colin Smith has been elected as a co-opted Board member. Colin brings to the Board a wealth of compulsory purchase expertise, which will help us deliver on our constitutional objectives in this field, the Council having recently granted us, at our request, a constitution much wider than before.

You can contact me on Valuation Faculty Board matters via valuation.faculty@irrv.org.uk.

Peter Scrafton FIRRV FCIArb MRSA (Hon) Solicitor (Non-Practising) and Accredited Mediator is a legal and valuation consultant and member of the IRRV Council.

©J.P. Scrafton, 2011

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