Local governments win indemnity for costs of rates recovery

Please see updated article as of 18/08/2023 here.

The District Court has ruled Local Governments are entitled to be indemnified for their legal costs incurred in rates recovery proceedings.

Clarifying Local Governments rates recovery charges are a form of statutory debt capable of judgment, in Parker v City of Rockingham [2020] WADC 90 (delivered 19 June 2020) her Honour Vernon DCJ agreed with CS Legal’s submissions the costs of proceedings referred in section 6.56 of the Local Government Act 1995 (WA) (LGA) were not ‘usual’ party party cost orders.

The relevant subsection 6.56(1) of the LGA provides:

“If a rate or service charge remains unpaid after it becomes due and payable, the local government may recover it, as well as the costs of proceedings, if any, for that recovery, in a court of competent jurisdiction.”

While comments from Judge Davis in O’Dea v Shire of Coolgardie [2013] WADC 150 have indicated this to be the case, the recent decision brings welcome clarity to the thorny rates recovery issue that has plagued many Shires and Cities.

For more detailed information please download the attached PDF by clicking here.

If you are a Rate Officers or Coordinator in a local City, Shire, or Town, feel free to contact CS Legal’s rates Recovery Team on (08) 9476 4466 for more information or advice.