AAT confirms mandatory deregistration for non-payment of annual fee
From Marriage Matters 2015?
Mr Thiel applied to the AAT for review of a decision of the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants to deregister him as a marriage celebrant for nonpayment of the celebrant registration charge by the charge payment day. Mr Thiel’s case involved particularly tragic family circumstances during the period when the 2014 annual registration charge was due.
The AAT considered section 39FB of the Marriage Act 1961 and held that the Registrar has no discretion to consider exceptional circumstances such as Mr Thiel’s when deregistering a celebrant for non-payment of the annual registration charge.
Under section 39FB the Registrar must send a deregistration notice to a person who has failed to pay the charge by the charge payment day ‘unless’ the person’s liability to pay the charge may be affected by an application for exemption or any other circumstance. The AAT held that ‘any other circumstance’ must relate to circumstances that affect the person’s liability to pay the charge rather than the timing of the payment.
As Mr Thiel was registered on 1 July and had not been granted an exemption he was liable to pay the charge. The fact that he did not do so by the end of the charge payment day meant that the Registrar was required to deregister him.
Deputy President Dr Christopher Kendall in his written reasons wrote “the Registrar was obliged by the legislation to [issue] the deregistration notice... The Registrar had no choice but to do so. The legislation offers no discretion. No event that might be reviewed by this Tribunal occurred.”
This decision highlights how important it is to pay the annual registration charge before the charge payment day. To assist celebrants "ideally before the due date, which is 30 days before the final charge payment day