Local governments win indemnity for costs of rates recovery 2.0

Local Governments are entitled to recover all of their reasonable costs incurred in rates recovery proceedings, the Court of Appeal of the Western Australian Supreme Court decided in Parker v City of Rockingham [2021] WASCA 120.

Except to clarify the burden rests with the Local Governments to satisfy the Court its costs were reasonable, the joint judgment of the Court of Appeal expanded upon the earlier District Court decision of her Honour Vernon DCJ in Parker v City of Rockingham [2020] WADC 90 (delivered 19 June 2020) finding the entitlement to recover those costs under section 6.56 of the Local Government Act 1995 (WA) is an independent debt and not, as was argued by the unsuccessful appellant, a reference to party party costs contribution orders made by Courts.

The relevant subsection 6.56(1) of the Local Government Act provides:

6.56. Rates or service charges recoverable in court

(1)    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.

(2)    …

While earlier comments from Judge Davis in O’Dea v Shire of Coolgardie [2013] WADC 150 had indicated this to be the case, this 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 PDF version of the judgment 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 Debt Recovery Team on (08) 9476 4499 for more information or advice.