Education and Training (Teaching Council Fees And Costs) Amendment Bill
The Education and Training (Teaching Council Fees) Amendment Bill was introduced on 9 August 2021 and is currently before the House. The Bill broadens the Teaching Council’s power to set fees for teacher registration and the issuing of practicing certificates and Limited Authorities to Teach for early childhood, primary, and secondary school teachers. It also validates some fees and the receipt of fees payments.
What does the Bill do?
- Part 1 of the Bill enables the Council to set fees that cover all its functions and powers. It also confirms that the Council is able to charge fees in the manner it prescribes (e.g. by instalments), and to recover unpaid fees as a debt due to the Council. These measures are necessary for the Council to operate on a fully self-funded basis.
- Part 2 of the Bill retrospectively validates the receipt of payments for fees that took effect from 1 February 2021 and have now been quashed by the High Court. Payments received for the now-quashed fees will be credited to the teacher toward other fee payments The Bill does not, however, validate the quashed fees.
- The Bill also validates any previous fees set or payments received by the Council or its predecessor organisations.
Why is the Bill necessary?
- The Bill is necessary because a recent High Court judgment overturned Council decisions about practicing certificates and fees in a 2020 fees notice and this has created uncertainty about the Council’s ability to set fees to cover the costs of all its statutory functions.
- The High Court found that the Council was not authorised by the Education and Training Act 2020 to set a fee that covered all its statutory functions. This deficiency in the legislation is problematic because Government expects the Council to operate on a fully self-funded basis.
- Government policy is that the Council must set fees to cover the costs of all its statutory functions and powers. The Bill amends the Act to give effect to this policy.
Why does the Bill have retrospective effect?
- In light of the High Court judgment and for the avoidance of doubt, the Bill validates all previous fees, except the fees set by the 2020 Gazette notice, and all payments received for those fees.
- The Bill does not validate the annual certification and fee decisions that were overturned by the High Court, but it does allow the Council to retain payments received for that fee and to credit these in part-payment of the three-yearly fee that now applies (the annual certificates have been reissued as three-year certificates). This avoids the Council having to refund annual fee payments to affected teachers and then collect the three-yearly fee from the same teachers.
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