12th Jul 2021

James Guthrie QC Instructed by Royds Withy King for the Respondents.

Introduction

  1. This appeal concerns the valuation of a freehold plot of land (“the property”) adjoining Le Saint Géran Hotel in Mauritius for the purposes of a share sale transaction concluded on 4 April 2007 between the appellant as buyer and Sun Resorts Ltd as seller.
  2. The property is 34 arpents and 51 perches in size. It has a sea-frontage of 250m whilst at the back it is 600m wide, giving it an irregular shape. At the material time it was used as a nine hole golf course.
  3. For the purpose of the share sale transaction, the property was valued at Rs 345,566,722 (Mauritian rupees) and this was the consideration paid by the appellants for its purchase.
  4. The second respondent (“the Registrar General”) decided to reassess the value of the property for the purposes of registration duty and land transfer tax pursuant to his powers under section 28 of the Land (Duties and Taxes) Act 1984 (“the 1984 Act”). On 17 October 2007 the lead Government valuer, Mr Jeebodhun, inspected the property, and on 26 December 2007, he assessed its open market value to be Rs 1,170,000,000. His valuation was made on the basis that there were no restrictions on the use of the land and that its highest and best use was as a hotel site.
  5. On 14 March 2008, the appellant lodged representations with the first respondent, the Assessment Review Committee, (the “ARC”), asking for a review of the Registrar General’s assessment under section 19 of the Mauritius Revenue Authority Act 2004 (“MRAA”).
  6. Following a hearing at which evidence was given on behalf of both parties, the ARC agreed with the Registrar General that the property should be valued on the basis that its highest and best use was as a hotel site but disagreed with some of the comparator sales which had been relied upon. It arrived at a valuation of Rs 855,364,000, as set out in a case stated.
  7. The appellants appealed to the Supreme Court of Mauritius pursuant to section 21 of the MRAA on the basis that the ARC’s valuation was “erroneous in law”, the only permitted ground for appeal.
  8. On 19 June 2019, the Supreme Court (Judges P Fekna and J Benjamin Marie Joseph) gave judgment dismissing the appeal and holding that the ARC had made no error of law.
  9. The appellants appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision as of right to the Privy Council pursuant to section 81(1)(b) of the Constitution of Mauritius.

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