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Apportionments Case Heard at Privy Council

Apportionments Case Heard at Privy Council
Friday, 19 July 2002

An appeal by Local Government New Zealand to the Privy Council about the way properties are classified for rating purposes was heard in London last week.

The Council appeal was in the case of Rodney District Council and Others vs Attorney General and Valuer General.

Chief Executive, Peter Winder, says he is satisfied that the case received a fair hearing by the Privy Council. “It was clear that the law lords had a thorough understanding of the case material as they asked questions that went to the core of the issues. The way the lords viewed the case was very positive. They tended to approach the case from the position of rating equity not valuation convenience. The lords showed a wonderful ability to grasp the structure and framework of complex statutes quickly.”

Mr Winder says that the hearing took two days to complete with their lines of questioning showing a comprehensive grasp of rating and valuation issues. “I believe the case has a better than even chance of a successful outcome. No matter how the decision falls we can be satisfied that we have had our day in court and we received a fair hearing.”

The case deals with the criteria and processes the Valuer-General (and his predecessors) use when deciding whether to classify a property as a separate property for rating purposes. This has major implications for the levying of uniform charges on properties such as individual flats in a block of flats.

A successful outcome to the case (from the Local Government New Zealand point of view) will mean that most of the charges levied on apportionments in the past were levied lawfully, and most of the potential claims for refunds will disappear. Even an unsuccessful ruling on the case will not automatically mean that councils would have to refund, as this case is not about the legality of uniform charging on a one per apportionment bases, and no court has ruled on this to date.

The case has been funded by a levy of the 58 affected councils, in proportion to their total contingent liability for refunds.


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