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Judicial Review for London rates relief

Discussion in 'Scientology Property Tax' started by Anonymous, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    I don't fully understand this thread but if you need a UK student or something then perhaps a thread notification for those who frequent any London planning threads?
  2. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    BUMP
  3. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Agreed, that memo regarding the decision process gone through when granting mandatory relief needs to be analysed carefully.
  4. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    We need to focus on what they DIDN'T do which any reasonable person would do to be able to make a fair decision. Not on them being just plain stupid because there is stupidity at every level of local and central government and it is not the job of the courts to protect us from stupidity.

    For example, they asked why the CoS had not applied for rates relief in East Grinstead. The premises there is bigger than their Celebrity Centre so why did they accept the excuse that they did not have time to do this? That was just plain stupid. But what they DID NOT DO was to consult with other local authorities such as Mid Sussex District Council where St. Hill is and ask them for their opinion.

    Another example is that they accepted that Scientology was a religion with altruistic purposes on the say so of those Scientologists present. This was just plain stupid but what they DID NOT DO was to seek a truly independent view which any reasonable person would do if faced with granting them a huge amount of tax relief.

    So we have to identify those things they should have done that any reasonable person would have done that they did not do.
  5. BigBeard Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    On a side note, it looks like enough has come out through the FOI requests at this point to get the attention of the press and politicians. Anyone with UK press contacts may want to give them a "heads up", if it hasn't been done already.

    Especially the stuff about forgoing multiple years of taxes because the litigation costs might exceed one years take from $cientology. Keeping the pressure on CoL can't hurt. Especially when they acknowledge in the last document those making the FOI requests are very aware that COSRECI is NOT a charity in South Australia, which the CoL decision makers never bothered to verify one way or the other.

    BigBeard


    BigBeard
  6. wolfyrik Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Unless I'ver mis-read some of the comments, Legal aid probably won't cover this action unless taken by a person who is an ex-member of scientology or has paid for their services.

    Help with legal costs

    There are strict rules about what legal aid can be used for, as in the type of cases. Enforcement of consumer law would be one of these, and taking on scientology on these grounds would certainly be viable given that they actually breach trade law on several grounds.

    I doubt you could actually use legal aid for a judicial review, though I would like to be proven wrong.

    Legal Representation however, does cover it. The problem is it's harder to get and you have to convince the LSC that the case is worth it.

    Copypasta from the link:



    Legal Representation

    Legal Representation helps with all the costs of taking certain types of non-criminal (civil) cases to court. It includes representation by a solicitor or barrister. To get Legal Representation, you must meet certain financial conditions - see What are the financial conditions for Legal Representation, below. Your case also has to meet certain other conditions, for example, whether the Legal Services Commission (LSC) considers it reasonable to fund your case.

    Also, you might only get Legal Representation for as long as it takes a solicitor to look into your case. If the solicitor doesn't think your case is strong enough, Legal Representation might be stopped.

    The types of case that you might be able to get help with under Legal Representation include:

    * a housing case, including eviction, repairs and rent arrears
    * a debt case
    * consumer problems, for example, if you were claiming compensation for faulty goods or services
    * an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (but not for representation at an Employment Tribunal)
    * a judicial review case in the High Court
    * mental health review proceedings
    * an immigration or asylum case before the First-tier Tribunal and in some High Court cases
    * the costs of mediation in non-family cases. For more information about Family Mediation, see under heading Family Mediation.

    Legal Representation will not usually pay for the costs of taking a personal injury case to court.
  7. Anonymous Member

  8. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Already done by me in this case and rebuffed but for sure we should follow procedure and contact the relevant authorities. But we have to make sure we can stay within the three month limit and there is no way we will get a useful response in less than a month from any of these dickheads.
  9. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    One doing one thong does not stop another from following another path? I suppose we should "procede on a broad front" as it were.
  10. jensting Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Well, that's better than Old Fart (which, of course, only really describes me ;-) )

    Sorry, not qualified.

    Best Regards

    Jens
  11. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Someone with ESMB credentials please cross post relevant info and link!

    YIKES! But this does make the point that the focus needs to be on the latest decision which was taken on 27-Sep. Therefore, proceedings must be issued by 8-Nov.

    Our deadline to have everything ready should be 1-Nov


    Otherwise, we wait a year.
  12. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    On the context of the Request.

    Could we leave it open to the court to
    EITHER:
    "appoint an independent assessor to carry out a further review of public benefit delivered by COSREC to inform a future decision on whether to confirm or deny COSREC’s entitlement"
    OR:
    "determine that the COSREC entitlement is not in accordance with legislation"

    ??

    While it complicates the evidence required, I don't think we should limit the court from considering the issues that the CoL legal department have been seeking opinion on (so far in a very limited fashion). ie: whether COSREC is actually entitled to a rebate.

    Also, if they do order the appointment of an 'independent assessor', I would like the court to also define the scope of that assessment (ie: there's no point if the assessor also takes whatever the cult has to say as being true - they need to talk to 'us' as well)
  13. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Notes for guidance on applying for judicial review : http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/1220.htm

    Note at 5 : "5.1 The claim form must be filed promptly and in any event not later than three months after the grounds upon which the claim is based first arose (CPR Part 54.5)."

    Twelve weeks WAY better than Six!!!!
  14. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Notes for guidance on applying for judicial review : http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/1220.htm

    Note at 5 : "5.1 The claim form must be filed promptly and in any event not later than three months after the grounds upon which the claim is based first arose (CPR Part 54.5)."

    Twelve weeks WAY better than Six!!!!
  15. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Roland, could you post details of your rebuff-age?

    so we can work round whatever their objection was.

    was it just that you have to complain to the council first?
  16. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    I intended to do more work on this but I had a surprise visitor on Saturday and my laptop keeps crashing (Acer laptop plus Windows 7 64bit - enough said) so it slowed me done.

    What is needed is to point out what any reasonable person would have done in these circumstances and especially what you would have done which they did not do but feel free to point out the blindingly obvious.

    1) One thing they should have done is to contact other authorities to ask them for their opinion to make sure they were not buying into a bad thing. They are effectively about to hand over a huge sum of money on a yearly basis and any reasonable person would do some checking to make sure theree were no compelling counter-arguments and the most useful authority for that would be Mid Sussex District Council where they have their headquarters and where they are "not yet" getting any rates relief due to Hodkin not having time to get round to it. They gave the excuse that their CoL property has higher priority because it is three times the cost but they pay far more on the St. Hill property than the Celebrity Centre in Westminster so why did they not apply for St. Hill before Westminster? Of course, if the CoL Comptroller (I like that word) had done then it would be clear that in no way would Mis Sussex District Council ever grant rates relief on their property and that they do not consider them to be a charity. First it was the outbuildings being rebuilt with fixed foundations. Then it was St. Hill Castle started and wall serected without planning permission and this in an area of outstanding beauty. Then it was trying to get their separate chapel registered as a place of worship and they it was putting wash basins in all the auditing rooms to say they were wash rooms and therefore the rateable value should be less like a toilet and the local authority insisting that for the OT IV Drug Rundown that vitamins were food stuff so a separate room was needed to prepare this food and the people doing it had to wear chef's overalls and chef's hats and God knows what else.

    Any reasonable person would ask other local authorities for their opinion and especially Mid Sussex District Council if they had any concerns and if that had been done the CoL might not have come to the conclusion they did.

    2) This weighing up the collection of business rates against the possible cost of litigation is highly dubious. I wrote to their District Auditor about this but have not received a reply yet. But even if they were entitled to do this then they have to weight up not one years rates but continuing years rates.

    3) This argument that if they are a foreign charity then it might be illegal to not treat them as an English charity is nonsense unless COSRECI were *operating* as a registered charity in another EU country. If that were the case then it might be against EU law since it would be restricting flow of money to another EU member state. But as we know, COSRECI is not registered as a charity anywhere and is instead an Australian non-profit organisation. Any reasonable person would firstly have checked on their charitable credentials and would have not granted charitable relief on the basis that they are not a charity and even if they were, not a charity that is operating in the EU.

    4) The idea that it would be discriminating against them as a religion if they stopped their mandatory rates relief has more mileage but at the same time this money is *charitable* relief and is given for organisation that are for the public benefit. Charging loads of money for auditing and training, which are their core practices, is clearly not of public benefit.

    5) The Charity Commission sets the *statutory guidelines* and it is best practice to follow these guidelines. If they intended to break these guidelines then they could have brought up their concenrs with the Charity Commission. They did and the Charity Commission said their view was still the same so it would have been best practice to adhere to their guidelines.

    6) It seems that given this huge amount of public money they were continuing to donate then nobody there ascertained what the premises would be used for. They would have found out that the core practices of Scientology are auditing and training and that training is training to be an "auditor" and their central aim is to get people up the "Bridge".

    7) At no time have any of them asked COSRECI for a list of their services and products and the cost of these. They would have worked out that the cost of being audited up to clear costs about 40,000 GBP.

    I am sure there is more.

    What is needed is a succint list of what YOU would have done as a reasonable person if you were the Comptroller (love that word) and how a different decision would have been arrived at as a result.

    I've had to rush this but if somebody else wants to put this together then feel free.
  17. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Yes, that was it.
  18. Squirrel Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    LURK MOAR

  19. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Would need to be a London person?
  20. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Maybe not - just somehow a "person of standing" but what that is is difficult to define. Anybody who loses out of the CoL does not collect the rates it should and best people would be a dolee or disabled person on disability allowance or somebody on incapacity benefit or a student living in the CoL area so that we could get legal aid for them.
  21. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    I'm just thinking about this Comptroller. He's probably some kid about 50 years old.
  22. Anonymous Member

  23. Anonymous Member

  24. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Good find!

    Action prior to decision taking (starting on page 11)

    19. Carry out a sufficient investigation so as to establish all the relevant
    and material facts.

    20. Seek appropriate specialist advice as necessary.

    21. Consult any individuals or organisations who might reasonably
    consider that they would be adversely and significantly affected by
    a proposed action.

    22. Detect major errors which materially affect an issue under
    consideration.

    23. Give adequate consideration to the reasonable courses of action which
    are open to the council in any particular circumstances.

    24. Ensure that a committee is provided with a report when circumstances
    require and that the report is materially accurate and covers all the
    relevant points.

    21 and 24 they did OK but not the rest. Their decision to extend can be torn apart using this plus we have more.

    Edit: We can do the other local authorities with this.
  25. AnonyMary Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    I still say you should contact British Mom ( Susan Talbot of London area) over on ESMB. She is a wonderful woman who posted her outrage at this matter. She is a declared SP and has been trying to get contact with her Sea Org daughter in the US for many years.

    She visited the US and critics and anons helped her in her attempts, tho the church refused to produce her daughter. The police refused to help, as well.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbbqMV_4QEA[/ame]

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLVBp0KqL5c&feature=related[/ame]

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9QHebwCAIY&feature=related[/ame]

    I think she would be a good advocate on this.

    Mary
  26. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Yes and I guess she would be eligible for Legal Aid (or Legal Representation) as well. But I can't work out how to PM her.
  27. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    AnonyMary,

    Could you make a post on ESMB about what we're trying to do, with a link? And PM Susan Talbot as you suggest. I'm not sure any of the Council Tax campaign core are ESMB people (I could be wrong).

    It would awesome if you would...
  28. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    I worked out how to do it and PM'ed British Mom.
  29. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    I am thinking that when it comes to our demands we should demand nothing more than they follow..

    http://www.lgo.org.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id=fAAxADIANQB8AHwAVAByAHUAZQB8AHwAMAB8AA2

    ...Good administrative practice

    ...as defined by The Commission for Local Administration in England regarding "Actions prior to decision taking (axioms 19-24)" in relation to a stack of points and errors that I have alrteady posted but will be working on the better wording of soon.

    They can't exactly turn round and say "Nah... we can't be bothered" after all.
  30. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    i've just submitted a complaint to City of London on that basis.

    I'll give them 28 days then (assuming they haven't done a u-turn) send it to the Ombudsman.
  31. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    For Judicial Review, we need legal advice. Otherwise we risk pissing in the wind a bit coming up with stuff that might not be useable. Agree the stuff above would all be good for ombudsman.
  32. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Agreed.

    But we need to go through the 'letter of claim' process then and (I think) file the court papers before we can engage a lawyer for pro bono work.

    that's AFAIUI. Although probably right to get advice nontheless before filing court papers.

    But we can get on with the letter of claim.
  33. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Ahem, folks - this could be brilliant for us!

    [NOPARSE]

    Relevant events:

    http://www.probonouk.net/index.php?id=pbw_top&calMonth=11&calYear=2010

    Free pro-bono legal clinic:

    http://www.probonouk.net/index.php?id=events_detail_pbw&rid=175&calMonth=11&calYear=2010&fr=&pbwo=1

    Make up a begging/pleading flyer and dish it out to people arriving at these events:

    Launch event and retired pro-bono lawyers thing:
    http://www.probonouk.net/index.php?id=events_detail_pbw&rid=172&calMonth=11&calYear=2010&fr=&pbwo=1

    Law student pro-bono thing
    http://www.probonouk.net/index.php?id=events_detail_pbw&rid=184&calMonth=11&calYear=2010&fr=&pbwo=1
    [/NOPARSE]

    Bluebell, since you're actually in London, what do you think? Able to rally a few of the troops?

    Sorry about cut'n'paste URLs, but link bug not yet fixed.
  34. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    I figure if someone's going to offer free help, the sooner in the process the better - but agree with carrying on with the basics. Complaint to Ombudsman should perhaps be spun out into own thread, because they can consider what is 'good practice' whereas the Court will only consider the legalities.

    My main 'thing' re letter of claim, is that we should leave it wide open for the Court to rule that CoS is not entitled to rates relief at QVS - no point in closing off that option.
  35. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Also, see

    [NOPARSE] http://www.barprobono.org.uk/index.php?cID=156 [/NOPARSE]

    "My Organisation Needs Assistance"

    With lots of instructions on what needs to be done; it would involve putting together a hardcopy dossier.

    So that's mostly relevant FOI requests and responses, released docs etc. I'd suggest including short (up to a page) statements from each of us individually, rather that spending forever agreeing words. We've got different styles, and that's a real strength.
  36. Bluebell Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Well am not actually in London as such, but will try and ask around.
  37. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    http://www.lgo.org.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id=fAAxADIANQB8AHwAVAByAHUAZQB8AHwAMAB8AA2

    describes what a Council should do in making a decision.


    Let's see where the City of London Corporation went wrong. This is just a few things - I might think of some others.

    Action prior to decision taking (starting on page 11)

    19. Carry out a sufficient investigation so as to establish all the relevant and material facts.


    This was not done. Neither sufficient nor done at all. If this had been done then the following facts would have been established:

    1) That COSRECI is not registered as a charity anywhere and only operates in the UK.

    2) That the core activites of Scientology membership are training and "auditing" and that the aim is for members to "get up the Bridge".

    3) That Scientology "churches" are mostly used for training and auditing.

    4) That training and auditing is delivered at a price/"fixed donation"/"requested donation" and not otherwise except for very basic simple actions that will not progress a person "up the Bridge".

    5) They would have in front of them a price list for all these services.


    20. Seek appropriate specialist advice as necessary.

    This was necessary as Scientology is considered controversial by most members of the public. This was not done. Other church groups could have been consulted. Some ex-members could have been contacted. An internet search could have been done which would have revealed many things. Ex-members at ESMB could have been contacted.

    21. Consult any individuals or organisations who might reasonably consider that they would be adversely and significantly affected by a proposed action.

    This would have been the whole population of the country affected a little bit only so understandable nothing was done.

    22. Detect major errors which materially affect an issue under consideration.

    Errors in the advise given by the QC include:

    1) Assuming COSRECI was a charity (it is not).

    2) Assuming Euopean court ruling to do with charitable donations extends beyond the EU (it does not - only EU member states)

    3) Assuming religions by right were entitled to be treated as a charity and so by default be offered mandatory rates relief (the Charities Act 2006 changed the law so that no organisation whether religious or otherwise enjoyed this assumption any more and had to prove public benefit to be a "charity").

    4) Assuming religions that are charitable are comparable with religions that are not and both should be treated equally for tax purposes is a nonsense. There is all the difference in the world between members of a religion who devote their time and own money for helping the poor and disadvantaged in society and a loony cult that charges extortionate money from its members to exorcise their space cooties.

    5) Mixed up "place of public religious worship" with this issue (this is a matter of applying for and getting registered as such and is nothing to do with the granting of mandatory rates relief which is for charities and not places of public religious worship).

    6) Being confused as to what constitutes a charity under English law (the 2006 Act made it clear that a charity could only be a charity under English law if they were subject to the courts so a South Australian charity is not a charity in England and Wales. Henry and Camille Dreyfus Foundation v CIR still applies).

    23. Give adequate consideration to the reasonable courses of action which are open to the council in any particular circumstances.

    It would have been reasonable for the CoL to contact their counterparts in Mid Sussex District Council to ask for their opinion since the headquarters of the CoS is situated there. They should have questioned why COSRECI had sought for and obtained charitable rates relief for their Celebrity Centre in Westminster, London before doing so for their own headquarters. If they had done that they would have learned of a number of problems between their headquarters at St. Hill and the local authority and that the authority do not consider the CoS to be a charity and would never give them mandatory rates relief.

    24. Ensure that a committee is provided with a report when circumstances require and that the report is materially accurate and covers all the relevant points.

    Some points missed as described above.

    Some more BLOODY STUPID errors:

    1) They should have questioned why the CoS had not appealed the Charity Commission decision by asking for an internal review or asking for the services of the Charity Tribunal to reverse this decision instead of listening to their lame excuses.

    2) They got a clear response from the Charity Commission that the Charity Commission had not changed their stance on Scientology and since these are the people who wrote the statutory guidelines on what constitutes a charity so that is GOOD PRACTICE for them to follow then they should not have gone against their opinion. Their DEFENSE in any court action would be simply "we checked with the Charity Commission and they advised that their stance had not changed on considering Scientology to be a charity and we acted on their advice since for a local authority it is good practice to follow their recommendations".

    3) They are offsetting their duty to collect tax on behalf of the government against the cost of possible litigation. It is not clear whether they are allowed to do that. But also they are balancing a yearly tax amount in their calculations whereas this tax is collectable every year and so is considerably more.
  38. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    (I deleted a second copy of the above in this post)

    Who wants to send the above in to CoL and follow it up to the Ombudsman? I won't do this myself. Too many computer problems. Besides, I don't have the patience to deal with these bloody kids - none of whom are likely to be more than 50 years old.
  39. Anonymous Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    Roland you heard back from British Mom (aka Susan Talbot)?
  40. RolandRB Member

    Re: Judicial Review for London rates relief

    No

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