Mangawhai ratepayers have secured a partial victory in the High Court which ruled the Northland Regional Council rates for Kaipara have not been lawfully set or assessed for the past six years.
The interim judgment by Justice Ailsa Duffy followed an application for judicial review by the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents' Association, its chairman Bruce Rogan and his wife Heather.
The Kaipara Validation Act validated irregularities in the setting and assessing of Kaipara District Council rates from the 2006/07 financial year to 2011/12 in respect of the Mangawhai wastewater scheme.
The association has unsuccessfully challenged in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court, the validity of rates levied by the KDC.
In the application for judicial review, the association and the Rogans argued the NRC rates' resolution for the years in question did not state a calendar year by which each instalment of rates was to be paid.
Under Section 24 of the Rating Act, a local authority must state the financial year to which the rate applies and the date on which it must be paid. The Kaipara, Whangarei and the Far North District Councils currently collect rates on behalf of NRC.
NRC rates resolutions did not state a calendar date for their payment but said the dates and methods of payment of instalments, any discount or additional charges shall be the same as those of the three district councils. Justice Duffy said the rates resolutions were incomplete as they failed to fix a time for payment of the intended rates. She said the errors were serious and substantial.
"In short, the NRC has failed to exercise its statutory powers properly when determining rates resolutions and it has unlawfully sought to delegate the performance of a number of its functions in relation to rates to KDC," Justice Duffy said.
NRC chief executive Malcolm Nicolson said legal implications of the decision would not be clear until the court made a final decision.
That decision concerns an appeal by the Rogans from a judgment by Whangarei District Court judge Keith de Ridder late last year which ordered them to pay more than $20,000 in outstanding rates and penalties.
Both refused to pay rates and penalties from 2011 to 2015 because they claimed the KDC and the NRC issued them documents that did not comply with the Local Government Rating Act.