Council Wins Judgement Against Penny Bright in Ongoing Rates Saga

Will Ms Bright appeal?


From Auckland Council:

A win for Auckland Council in overdue rates case

Auckland Council has successfully obtained summary judgment against Ms Penny Bright for unpaid rates, dating back almost nine years.

The Auckland District Court has today released its decision in favour of the council. The decision is for $34,182.56, which was the amount of rates and penalties outstanding as at 30 June 2015.

The council has a duty to all Aucklanders to collect rates, which ensures fairness to all ratepayers.

“As we have always stated, taking court action is the last resort for council to recover unpaid rates,” says Auckland Council Group Chief Financial Officer Sue Tindal.

“We have given Ms Bright ample opportunity to resolve this matter in a way that would not cause her financial hardship, including through rates postponement.”

Today’s judgment means Ms Bright must pay her rates or put a rates payment plan in place. If she continues to refuse, as she has done for the last eight years, council can apply to the High Court for a ratings sale.

In a very small number of cases, the council will seek to recover rates through a court ordered sale of the property. This is only after all other options have been exhausted and the ratepayer is still refusing to enter into any payment arrangements.



Further Information

  • Ms Bright has not paid rates since 2007. In 2012, the Auckland Council obtained a judgment from the Auckland District Court for the amount then owing and used that to apply to the High Court for a rating sale of her property.
  • After the compulsory stand down period of six months and just prior to a the rating sale process being commenced by the High Court, Ms Bright applied to the District Court to have the judgment that formed the basis of the High Court rating sale set aside.
  • Ms Bright was ultimately successful on a technical ground as an award of costs against her in previous proceedings was inadvertently included in the calculation of the 2012 judgment sum. However, the underlying claim for unpaid rates remained active.
  • On 7 October the District Court adjourned Auckland Council’s application for summary judgment against Penny Bright to 21 December. The adjournment was on the basis that Ms Bright advised the court that she did not recall receiving a supporting affidavit from Council.
  • Auckland Council stated in court that this was inconceivable, and subsequently located an email from Ms Bright sent in May to a wide range of recipients confirming that she had in fact received the affidavit.
  • Council has drawn Ms Bright’s attention to the email and suggested that in the circumstances it would be appropriate for her to write to the Court advising that she was mistaken in her recollection.
  • In December 2015, Ms Bright delivered a partially-completed rates postponement application, along with a list of demands of council. Ms Bright was advised that the application could not be processed or actioned because the documentation was incomplete. She was advised which sections she was required to complete, after which time the council was happy to process the application with urgency. This did not happen.



Ball shifts back to Ms Bright’s court