I have received a court summons. If I bring my instalments up to date can the costs be withdrawn?
No, the summons has been issued because you did not bring your account up to date following the earlier Reminder/Final Notice. You have lost your right to pay by instalments and the full balance is due, including the costs. The costs have arisen by the council preparing the issue of the summons and need to be paid. As long as the full summons balance, including the costs, is paid in full before the court hearing, no further action will be taken or costs added to the bill.
To pay the amount due now you can make a payment online on the Council Tax Online Payment web page. You can also call the council’s Automated Telephone Payments line on 0300 555 2852 and make a payment using your debit or credit card. Both of these are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I have received a summons – can I make an arrangement to pay?
Yes, provided the arrangement you make is acceptable to us. We will ask the local Magistrates to grant a Liability Order unless the total amount due, including costs, is paid before the hearing date. If you can not pay in full, we will still apply for a Liability Order at the hearing. However, you can avoid further recovery action such as Enforcement Agents (previously known as bailiffs) or an Attachment of Earnings Order, by entering into a payment arrangement to clear the debt. Please contact us immediately if you wish to do so.
If you contact us after the Court Date, we may make a suitable payment arrangement with you unless we have started any Recovery Action against you.
If you make an arrangement, payments must be made on or before the agreed date.
Everyone in the household has received a summons. Do we all have to pay the amount on the summons?
Every person named on the bill will receive a copy. Only one amount of Council Tax and court costs needs to be paid.
Do I have to attend court?
You can attend court if you want to, however please note that the Court is not able to take account of your financial situation or discuss payment with you.
If you agree that you owe the amount due on the summons, you are legally entitled to appear at the court hearing if you want to. However you only really need to appear if you have one of the eight legal defences listed below, to put to the Magistrates as to why you feel that you are not liable.
If you do not want to attend Court but wish to make a payment arrangement (known as a ‘Special Arrangement’), please contact us immediately
Will I still have to pay the additional court costs if I make an arrangement to pay before the hearing?
Yes. We will apply for a Liability Order and £66.50 costs will be added to your liability, However, no further action will be taken to collect the debt as long as the payments are made as agreed.
Will this affect my credit rating? Will my name or address be 'black-listed'?
Applications for a liability order are made in the Magistrates Court, not the County Court; so it will not affect your credit rating at this stage. If you fail to pay and the council has to resort to an application for a committal to prison, then this will result in you having a criminal record and this could affect your credit rating.
Why have I been sent a summons for the whole year when I've got until March next year to pay it?
You have the right to pay by instalments (usually from April - January), but if you do not pay the instalments as shown on your bill you will be sent a Reminder or Final Notice. If the amount due on the notice is not paid within seven days, you will lose your right to pay by instalments and the full amount needs to be paid. A summons for non-payment is issued for the full years balance which includes additional costs.
I have received a summons for the people that used to live at my address. What should I do?
Please write “Return to Sender” on the envelope and post it back to us.
If you haven’t received your own Council Tax bill yet, please contact us.
Can I pay “my share” of the Summons?
If the summons is addressed to more than one person, we must receive payment for the full amount due before the Court date. Everybody named on the bill is ‘jointly and severally liable’ for the full amount; this means that we can ask for the full amount owed from anybody named on the bill. Although you may want to split the amount owed, it is your responsibility to make sure that everyone pays their “share”. If payment is not received in full, further action can be taken against anyone named on the bill whether payments have been made or not and further costs may be added onto the bill.
Legal defences against the issue of a Liability Order
There are 8 legal defences in Council Tax legislation against the issue of a Liability Order:
- There was no entry in relation to the dwelling in the valuation list effective for the period for which the defendant is alleged to have been liable to pay the council tax.
- That the tax had not been properly set.
- That the tax had not been demanded in accordance with the statutory provisions or no joint & several taxpayers notice has, where appropriate, been served.
- That the amount demanded has been paid.
- That more than 6 years have elapsed since the day on which the sum became due.
- That the Billing Authority was in breach of the duty to serve notices “as soon as practicable” in the relevant year in compliance with Reg 19(1) of the Admin & Enforcement Regulations
- That the sum outstanding is in respect of a penalty which is the subject of an appeal or arbitration
- £70 first failure to supply, or knowing supply false information
- £280 second failure to supply same information.
- That bankruptcy or winding up proceedings have been initiated.
If you think that you have one of these defences, please call us straightaway on 0300 555 2851 so that we can look into it for you. We may tell you that you do not need to go to court.