The Grampian rates assessor will tell a court today that the collapse of the oil price does not constitute a “material change in circumstances” for the north-east and the business rates the region should pay.
The Aberdeen Valuation Appeal Committee previously ruled that the crash in 2014 did amount to a change, meaning firms could seek relief on their business rates.
But now the decision will be appealed at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, whose verdict will be final.
The Grampian rates assessor claims that there was no significant economic downturn in the region after 2014 and, as such, there was no need to alter business rates. But much expert opinion has formed the opposite conclusion.
Mike Rose, of CBRE Rating (Scotland), expressed hope that the Court of Session would not overturn the result.
He said: “In our view, the severe economic downturn in north-east Scotland is a fact that can and should be treated as a material change of circumstances.”
The 2008 recession was ruled a change in circumstance by the Court of Session in 2010, which allowed business rates in the central belt to be reduced accordingly.
Mr Rose said he hoped the process would be repeated in the north-east if the ruling goes in his favour. He said: “We hope the Lands Valuation Appeal Court will accept the downturn in the north-east is a material change in circumstance, enabling the rate relief that so many north-east ratepayers need in this period of economic difficulty, just as many central belt ratepayers did in 2009 when their circumstances changed.”
James Bream, director of policy and research at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said the change in circumstances had been “exceptional”.
He said: “We provided economic analysis to support CBRE because we believed the impact of the oil and gas downturn had materially altered the economic performance of the north-east of Scotland.
“It was our strong opinion that the region would be disproportionately affected further by the business rates revaluation and we felt the rating process should take account of this exceptional change in circumstances.”
The case is expected to last two days.