A summons will be issued if you have not paid a reminder, or made an agreement, or an agreement has been made on the terms a Liability Order will be obtained, but held pending payment of the arrangement.
A summons is a legal notice requiring you to appear at the Magistrates Court only if you dispute liability. Below is a list of valid disputes:
Your property is not entered in the Valuation List.
The tax has not been properly set.
The tax has not been demanded in accordance with the statutory regulations.
The amount demanded has been paid.
More than 6 years have elapsed since the day on which the sum became due.
Bankruptcy or winding up proceedings have been initiated
If you know the tax is due but in arrears you do not need to appear at court, but should contact the council to see if an arrangement can be agreed.
An outstanding benefit claim or appeal against your property band is not a valid defence against the granting of a liability order.
The council will request a liability order at the hearing. Once the order has been granted, and provided you have not entered into a payment arrangement, the Council has the right to determine the next enforcement stage, from the following:
- Attachment of Earnings - deducting the money owed directly from your net wage, at the rate specified by law.
- Attachment of Benefit - deductions from your Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, again at the rate specified by law.
- Enforcement Agents (formally known as Bailiffs)/Bailiff - Once the Enforcement Agents/Bailiff have become involved any arrangement must be made direct with them. There will be additional costs incurred if the case is passed to the Enforcement Agents/Bailiff (see notes Enforcement Agents/Bailiff)
- Charging orders - The Council can make an application to the County Court for an order to receive the amount owed in respect of Council Tax on any interest held by the debtor in a property. If the debt and costs incurred by the Council are not then paid, an enforced sale of the property can be investigated, again by order of the Court.
- Insolvency - The Council can also issue a petition for bankruptcy (against individuals) or liquidation (against a Company) which again could lead to the assets of the individual or company being seized and sold to clear the debt and all costs.
The Enforcement Agents act on behalf of the Council to recover a debt, either by an arrangement to pay or by removing goods and selling them at auction.
If the debt remains outstanding following Enforcement Agent action the Council will issue a notice for you to attend a Committal Hearing. At the Hearing you will need to provide details of your income and expenditure, after which the Magistrates will determine whether to make a Committal Order.