Data source
Date of text
31 Mar 2006
Original language


Type of text
Reference number
CIV 2005-404-4412 and CIV 2005-404-4643
Court name
High Court of New Zealand

In these actions two companies challenged bylaws relating to waste of four New Zealand territorial authorities. They both sought orders quashing the bylaws of the defendant Councils which required persons who were licensed to collect waste to pay a waste levy. One of the companies also sought declarations in relation to the meaning of the word “waste” and the validity of the licensing provisions in the bylaws.
The court analyzed the questions whether the bylaws constituted a tax as well as the powers of local authorities to impose taxes on waste licensees. It concluded that central to the empowering legislation was the concept that the Councils could recover costs, and allocate costs. It was not the intention of Parliament to give Councils the right to impose general levies, not related to costs actually incurred, but as a means of financing Council waste minimization efforts generally. And yet this was specifically what bylaws set out to do. The waste levy bylaws went further than Parliament envisaged and were ultra vires.
Furthermore, the court examined the question of whether any bylaw which imposed a licensing regime or levies in relation to recyclable material was ultra vires or unreasonable, because the empowering provisions related to “waste” only, and recyclable material was not waste. Thus, the court had to answer the question: What is “waste”? It concluded that recyclable material such as paper that had been used by its owner and would otherwise be discarded, but was to be recycled, or reused, was “waste” in terms of the powers conferred on the Defendant Councils.
Thus, the court held that the bylaws in question were ultra vires and were quashed and that the recyclable material which one of the companies acquired by private contract was waste within the meaning of the relevant regulations.