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THE ASSESSMENT APPEAL COURT.

The circumstances which transpired yesterday m connection with the sitting of tha Assessment Appeal. Conrt are such as to call for some reference on oar part, Home time ago, m due accordance with the requirements of the law, a Board of Reviewers was appointed for Ashburton County and Borough, and it was duly notified that suoh Board would meet at the .Resident Magistrate's Courthouse, Ashburton, at eleven o'clock m the forenoon, on Monday, the 27th day of May inst,, for the purpose of hearing and determining objections m respect of property m the undermentioned placet, via. : — Ashburton County, Longbeaoh, Coldstream, Wakanui, Mount Hutt, South Rakaia, Mount Homers, Anama, Bangitata, and Upper Ashburton Road Districts, Tinwald, and Hampstead Town Districts, and the Borough of Ashburton. .Notices of objection to the assessment had been received m no less than 162 cases m the several districts as follows, viz, i— -Borough of Ashburton, 2 ; Hampstead Town District, 22 ; Tinwald ditto, 2 ; Upper Ashburtoa Road Distriot, 19 ; Kangitata ditto, 9 ; Anama ditto, 5 ; Mount Somers ditto, 15 j South Rakaia ditto, 2 { Mount Hutt ditto, 4 j Wakanui ditto, 45 ; Coldstream ditto, 29 ; Longbeach ditto, 8. Total 162. Accordingly at the time appointed there was a large attendance of appellants, assessors, and others from all parts of the district, some of whom had travelled many miles, and there was considerable dissatisfaction when it was ascertained that the Court would be unable to sit at eleven o'clock, and that it was even doubtful whether if could sit at all until a future day. This was not because the gentlemen comprising the Board of Reviewers, or either of them, had failed to put man appearance— on the contrary all three— Messrs John Grigg, William McMillan, and George Jameson-— had put m a punotual appearance, but because owing to there being no Resident Magistrate resident at Ashburton, the Reviewers had not taken the oath of office— rather, to be precise, two of them had not, Mr Grigg had been sworn m a like capacity some four years ago, and on turning to the Property Assessment Act, 1885, it was found that he was eligible to act without again taking the oath, Section 6, providing that "every person who has taken the oath required by any Act hereby repealed shal) be deemed to have taken the oath under this Aot." But as two members were required to form a quorum of the Board, it was obvious that until at least one of the other two Reviewers had taken the oath, no Court could be constituted. As the same section enacts i that "every person, whosoever, ap--1 pointed under this Aot. . . shall before he begins to act m the execution of this Act, take and subscribe suoh oath | of fidelity and secrecy as may be pre- , scribed, which oath may be administered by the Commissioner or Deputy "Com- ■ missioner, or by any Resident Magis--1 trate," and as neither the interpretation olause nor any other section of the Acl .' makes any provision for the oath being I administered (failing a Commissioner, I Deputy Commissioner or R.M.\ by i Justice of the Peace or any other person • or officer, it appeared at first sigh! ' evidont that the Court could not be con- | stituted until Mahomet had gone to the mountain, or the mountain had gone to , Mahomet— until that is to say an R.M., j and the Reviewers had been brought i together, and the oath administered. The sitting was therefore adjourned i until the Property-Tax Commissioner [ had been communicated with, and shortly after noon a telegram was received stating j that the oath could be taken before a J.P. ; This was accordingly done, and the Court duly constituted sat at 2 p.m. But the delay will doubtless have considerably inconvenienced a number of persons, and it is certainly desirable that the circumstances should be represented to the Government m order that the Act may be amended so as to remove all doubt about the matter for the future. Indeed, while they are about it, there are several other Acts under which a Resident Magistrate alone has jurisdiction where it might and should be permitted that, failing a Resident Magistrate, one or two Justices of the Peace could act. This might be accomplished by a clause I m the Bill to amend the Justices of the Peace Aot which is to be introduced next session, and the suggestion is one which should not be lost sight of when tU~4- Dill ;„ U~fs>~n tliA TJnrtan

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THE ASSESSMENT APPEAL COURT. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2136, 28 May 1889

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