ConCourt dismisses farmers’ appeal against municipal rates

2013-06-06 12:20

The Constitutional Court has dismissed an appeal by Western Cape rural landowners against levies and rates the Bergrivier municipality imposed on them.

In a majority judgment today, the court found the municipality had properly imposed the rates, in terms of the Local Government Transition Act, for the 2006/07 to 2008/09 financial years.

“In respect of the challenges to the other years, the majority held that the municipality had substantially complied with the relevant statutory requirements,” according to a media summary of the matter.

The court took into account the relationship between the various laws passed to restructure local government.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) previously ruled in favour of the municipality that the levies and rates imposed were valid.

The applicants farm within the municipality’s jurisdiction. The municipality began imposing rates and levies in respect of the applicants’ rural land in 2001. The landowners refused to pay some of these levies and rates.

The municipality sought to claim the money through the courts. The applicants then disputed the validity of the amounts claimed.

The landowners won their case in the Western Cape High Court in 2011.

The court upheld their challenge of the validity of levies and rates imposed for all the years of the period in question, except those imposed in 2004/05 and 2005/06.

The municipality approached the SCA, which held that the rates and levies were valid. In March, the landowners approached the Constitutional Court to apply for leave to appeal the SCA’s decision.

They argued that the municipality had not complied with any of the relevant legislation when imposing the rates. The municipality argued against granting leave to appeal.

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