Belfast International Airport could be in line for a million pound-plus refund after winning a potentially landmark challenge to its rates revaluation.
In a case being seen as setting a precedent for other businesses, it won an appeal against a hike imposed following development work on the main terminal building.
A Lands Tribunal directed that a £3m Net Annual Value (NAV) assessment should be reduced to £2.3m.
Proceedings centred on a decision reached by a Land and Property Services District Valuer in February 2016.
The new valuation took into account Project Phoenix – the major construction work undertaken by Belfast International Airport (BIA) in 2010.
Lawyers representing BIA contended that the new NAV was excessive and incorrect.
Complex arguments focused on the rationale behind the assessment, along with expert opinion by chartered surveyors on either side.
During the case the tribunal compared BIA’s NAV with that of Belfast City Airport.
The panel, which included High Court judge Mr Justice Horner, questioned whether City Airport’s £2m lower valuation was warranted.
It also held that the respondent’s chartered surveyor failed to detail what factors had been included in one of the stages of the valuation process, and the amount allocated to each factor.
Backing BIA’s assessment that the NAV should be based on April 2001 economic circumstances, the panel confirmed: “The tribunal therefore allows the appeal and directs that the NAV of BIA in the valuation list be altered to £2,300,000.”
Sources close to the case predicted that the verdict, when backdated, will result in a repayment to the Airport in excess of £1m.
A further hearing is scheduled to determine costs of the legal action.