Marchesi v Noosa Council – What’s the case about?

The Land Court delivered a decision in the case of Marchesi v Noosa Council [2017] QLC 19 which involved an owner’s appeal against a decision of the chief executive officer of Noosa Council on the owner’s objection to the rating category for several parcels of land.

The focus of the case related to the lots within the Viridian Noosa complex which were categorised as “high-rise units (not PPR)”. It was contended by the owner that they were incorrectly categorised and should be re-categorised into an alternative category such as “low rise”, “commercial/industrial” or “residential (PPR) and other”.

The question for the Court to determine was whether the rating categorisation for a particular rating period was appropriate and correct having regard to the provisions of the Council’s Revenue Statement.

The Court dismissed the possibility that the lots could be categorised into a “non-residential” category since they were used for units within a complex providing accommodation.

The lots could also not be categorised into the “residential (PPR) and other” category as there was a covenant in place which precluded properties within the Viridian Noosa complex from being used for permanent residency as a principal place of residence.

Lastly, since at least two of the buildings within the Viridian Noosa complex constituted a building greater than 4 storeys, the Court found that the “high-rise units (not PPR)” category, rather than the “low rise” category was appropriate and it was a correct categorisation of the lots. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

Snapshot of Court’s consideration and findings

The lots the subject of the rating categorisation appeal were residential units within the Viridian Noosa complex.

The Court had to decide whether the lots were appropriately and correctly categorised for the relevant rating periods having to the Council’s Revenue Statement.

The owner sought to challenge the previous rating categorisations determined by the Council in the past years and the mechanisms behind the formulation of the Council’s budget.

In response to the assertions made by the owner, the Court remarked on the legal parameters of its consideration in a rating categorisation appeal.

The Court relevantly noted that “any resultant change in categorisation relates only to that particular rating period and not to matters or rates which have been struck and charged at some time in the past.

The Court then went on to note that it had no power to create new rating categories. Rather, its task was to assess whether the rating category into which any particular land was placed was the appropriate one, having regard to the definitions and provisions in the Revenue Statement.

Further, the history of the land and rating categorisations in previous rating periods were largely irrelevant unless there were good reasons to have regard to them.

Accordingly, the assessment in a rating categorisation appeal was reasonably confined. The Court had no authority to go behind, or investigate machinations prior to, the making of a rating resolution by the Council. That would be a matter for judicial review in the Supreme Court of Queensland.

The Court gave consideration to the relevant rating categories criteria and definitions in the Council’s Revenue Statement and planning scheme. It was also assisted by the assessment carried out by a qualified surveyor in relation to the properties within the Viridian Noosa complex.

The Court rejected the owner’s proposed re-categorisation and dismissed the appeal given the following matters:

  • the lots were in a complex providing accommodation;
  • the lots were subject to a covenant that they could not be used for permanent occupation;
  • at least two of the buildings in the complex constituted a building greater than 4 storeys and therefore the definition of “high-rise unit” under the Revenue Statement was met.

Points worth noting

An owner of rateable land has 30 days (or a longer period that the local government allows) after the day when the rate notice was issued to object to the rating category for the land that is stated in the rate notice.

If an owner is not satisfied with the decision on the objection, the owner may appeal the decision in the Land Court within 42 days after the day when the owner received notice of the decision.

The Land Court’s jurisdiction in a rating categorisation appeal is reasonably confined. The Court’s primary task is to assess whether the rating category into which any particular lot is placed is the appropriate and correct category, having regard to the revenue statements. In other words, does the land belong to the rating category stated in the rate notice or a different rating category?

The Court has no power to create new rating categories. Further it has no authority to go behind, or investigate machinations prior to, the making of a rating resolution by a local government. That would be a matter for judicial review in the Supreme Court of Queensland.