Supreme Court upholds Appeal Court Mangawhai rates ruling

8 Aug 2018

The Supreme Court has upheld a Court of Appeal decision on the way the Northland Regional Council (NRC) set due dates for the payment of rates and its arrangements for rate collection within the Kaipara district.

In March this year the Court of Appeal ruled largely in the council’s favour after the NRC filed an urgent appeal against a High Court decision quashing several years of its rates in the Kaipara district and an earlier related decision by the High Court which found two issues with the council's rating practices.  (Those issues were how council set due dates for the payment of rates and its arrangements for rate collection within the Kaipara district.)

While the March Court of Appeal judgement was a lengthy one and traversed a number of areas, overall it largely supported the regional council’s position; the court declaring the council’s rates for the affected period valid and ordering costs against the plaintiffs, Richard Bruce Rogan and Heather Elizabeth Rogan and the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association.

However, soon after that ruling, the plaintiffs sought leave to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

However, in a newly-released decision on 06 August, the Supreme Court declined their request, once again awarding costs ($4500 + disbursements) to the regional council.

Council Chairman Bill Shepherd says he hopes the lengthy court battle will now finally be drawing to an end with the latest ruling.

“The heart of this case – which had implications for local authorities nationally – was council’s use of its Kaipara district counterpart to collect rates on its behalf.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision once again confirms council can continue with the efficient administration of rates through use of shared service arrangements, providing value for money for our shared ratepayer base.”

Chairman Shepherd says at a cost of roughly $450,000 in total over the several years the case had run, the legal action had been expensive and time-consuming, but council had been left with little choice given the importance of the issues at stake, both locally and nationally.

“Collection of rates on our behalf by district councils provides significant cost savings which benefit our shared ratepayer base.  The cost of setting up our own, stand-alone rates collection agency would be many times the legal costs incurred in this action.”

Download a copy of the Supreme Court decision - 6 August 2018 (PDF, 100KB)