A Northland couple at the centre of a protracted legal battle with their territorial authority has been ordered to pay more than $20,000 in unpaid rates and penalties.
Bruce and Heather Rogan appealed to the High Court a ruling by the Whangarei District Court in 2015 that ordered them to pay the arrears the Kaipara District Council sought for the 2011-12 and 2014-15 rating years.
The District Court had ruled section 60 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 excluded any challenge to the council's notices of rates assessments and invoices being brought in recovery proceedings in that court.
The act says: "A person may not refuse to pay rates on the ground the rates are invalid unless the person brings proceedings in the High Court to challenge the validity of the rates on the ground that the local authority is not empowered to set or assess the rates on the particular rating unit."
Justice Ailsa Duffy upheld the District Court ruling, saying the council was entitled to recover $20,449 from the Rogans in rates and penalties for the years 2011 to 2015.
In a separate proceeding after the District Court ruling, the Rogans and the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Citizens' Association applied for a judicial review in the High Court last year.
The application sought a declaration that Northland Regional Council rates for Kaipara between 2011 and 2016 were unlawfully set and must be quashed.
A similar declaration was not sought in respect of Kaipara District Council notices of rates and assessments.
In August, Justice Duffy declared the regional council rates for Kaipara unlawful and set them aside but did not order a refund.
The regional council's appeal against Justice Duffy's decision will be heard by the Court of Appeal next month.
On her ordering the Rogans to pay their outstanding rates to the district council, Justice Duffy said section 60 of the act plainly stated that invalidity of the rates was not a basis for refusing to pay them.
Only challenge to the validity of the rates on the grounds the local authority was not empowered to set or access rates on properties would allow defaulting ratepayers to refuse to pay them.
Meanwhile, the association has started a givealittle page to raise funds for its legal proceedings.