Call us
CALL US NOW
01225 667 667
NEW ENQUIRIES
01225 667 667
EXISTING CLIENTS
01225 667 444

COUNCIL TAX LIABILITY ORDERS

Last year Magistrates Courts in England and Wales granted over 3.5 million Council Tax Liability Orders to local authorities giving them the right to take legal action, including the use of bailiffs (Enforcement Agents) to collect unpaid tax. With local councils under increasing financial pressure, and with forthcoming changes to the welfare system, this number is set to rise, as they crack down on collecting unpaid Council Tax in order to raise much needed funds.

“I would like to thank Council Tax Advisors. For all the help and support I was given in helping me sort out my council tax. I have a peace of mind knowing at the end of the phone there is help and understanding”
Theresa

View more feedback

COURT SUMMONS AND LIABILITY ORDERS FOR UNPAID COUNCIL TAX

If you have missed Council Tax payments and you still have not paid them within seven days of receiving a reminder and/or a final demand, the council can issue a Summons and apply to the Magistrates Court for a Liability Order. This gives the council legal power to collect the money that is owed.

A Court Summons will be sent to you and it will detail the time and place for a hearing to decide on your liability for payment. It should also detail the total amount of Council Tax that you owe, the period of time that it covers, and any other amount that you will have to pay. You should check this carefully to see if you agree with it. If you do not agree with the information you should contact the council.

Council Tax Advisors - Council tax and debt advice

This gives the council legal power to collect the money that is owed.

You do not have to attend the hearing, however, you are allowed to give reasons in court as to why you have not been able to pay; so attending may work in your favour. Be aware that you will also have to pay for the council’s legal costs, so it is best to come to an arrangement to pay your Council Tax before it gets to this stage. If you have received a Court Summons for a hearing about a Liability Order for unpaid Council Tax, you should contact Council Tax Advisors, who are here to help you.

Get your free help!
CALL 01225 667 667

Or let us call you back

WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE A COURT SUMMONS

If you have received a Court Summons you are not required to attend the hearing. However, if you do attend you will usually be given the opportunity to speak to a representative from the council to arrange an affordable payment plan, which will help to avoid the case being referred to bailiffs. If you do wish to explain why you have not been able to pay your Council Tax you should bring evidence of any financial difficulties, such as bank accounts, redundancy letter, medical certificates etc.

If you feel that you have a legal defence against a Liability Order, you should attend the hearing. Here is a list of some common valid defences:

  • The property is not listed in the valuation list for the period of time that the summons has been issued for
  • The Council Tax has not been properly set
  • You have already paid the outstanding amount in full, including summons costs
  • More than six years have passed since the amount became due
  • Bankruptcy proceeding have been started
  • You are not the person liable to pay for the Council Tax you have received a Court Summons for.

The following reasons are not considered to be a valid defence and you should not attend court if any of these apply:

  • You don’t have enough money to pay the debt in full
  • You need more time to pay
  • You would like to make arrangement for an affordable repayment plan
  • You are waiting to hear about a Council Tax Support application
  • You have already made an appeal to the council about the amount of your Council Tax or property band.

Whether or not you agree a way to settle your debt at the hearing, the council will still be granted a Liability Order. The court can only decide on your liability to pay rather than your ability to pay. The Liability Order will remain in place until you have paid in full but if you have made a payment arrangement it will avoid the bailiffs being called in.

“I cannot thank the Council Tax Advisors enough for their quick response in dealing with this matter with a very professional approach, yet also feeling like, it was like a tap on the back from a friend with a “don’t worry we will sort it attitude”.”
RL Hereford

View more feedback

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE HEARING?

A representative from your local council will give the Magistrates a list of names, addresses and reference numbers of people who owe Council Tax and Business Rates. Unless there is an error with the amount being owed, or the person named is incorrect, the Court will agree that there is liability for payment to the council. This means the council have been granted a Liability Order, a legal demand, which allows them to take legal action to recover the unpaid amount from you.

This could include asking your employer to deduct the money owed from your pay cheque, taking the money directly from any benefits, such as, Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance, putting a charging order on your property which may force the sale of your home and appointing bailiffs (Enforcement Agents) to contact you on their behalf. Ultimately if your Council Tax is not paid you may be sent to jail. A Liability Order gives bailiffs the right to contact you about paying your debt and could escalate them taking control of your goods to sell them to pay the amount outstanding.

Get your free help!
CALL 01225 667 667

Or let us call you back

WILL YOU RECEIVE A COPY OF THE LIABILITY ORDER?

A Liability Order is in itself not an actual document but rather a legal term, so it cannot be sent to you. The list that the Magistrates stamp in court is the actual document that gives the local authority the go ahead to take enforcement action to collect your unpaid debt. The Liability Order is the court deciding that you owe money to the council and giving them the right to take legal action to collect the debt.

DOES A LIABILITY ORDER GO ON A CRIMINAL RECORD OR AFFECT CREDIT RATING?

A Liability Order does not give you a criminal record. Nor does a Liability order affect credit rating.

HOW LONG IS A LIABILITY ORDER VALID FOR?

Liability Orders are not subject to the Statute of Limitations Act, which puts a limit of six years on some other kinds of debt repayment demands. Enforcement agents could still be instructed to collect unpaid debts relating to Liability Orders that were issued many years ago. With many local authorities looking for ways to make extra revenue this is now not uncommon. However, if you have received a demand relating to a Liability Order that was issued more than six years ago you should get in touch with Council Tax Advisors for further information on your rights.

“I cannot thank the Council Tax Advisors enough for their quick response in dealing with this matter with a very professional approach, yet also feeling like, it was like a tap on the back from a friend with a “don’t worry we will sort it attitude”.”
RL Hereford

View more feedback

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A LIABILITY ORDER IS GRANTED?

After the Court grants the council a Liability Order for Council Tax, the council may or may not send you a letter advising you that they have obtained a Liability Order, giving you 14 days within which to provide financial information before the case gets referred to bailiffs. Either before or when your case gets passed to bailiffs you may be notified in writing. However, this is not a legal requirement, and with councils trying to cut costs, fewer are sending out letters. The council could just appoint enforcement agents to contact you on their behalf, without letting you know first.

The best way to avoid having the bailiffs show up at your door unannounced and any further action being taken is to contact the council right away as soon as you receive a demand for payment of overdue Council Tax. You should explain your situation and agree a repayment plan. Once the council pass on a Liability Order to the enforcement agents, things become much more difficult so it is best to act as early as possible.

“I cannot thank the Council Tax Advisors enough for their quick response in dealing with this matter with a very professional approach, yet also feeling like, it was like a tap on the back from a friend with a “don’t worry we will sort it attitude”.”
RL Hereford

View more feedback

HOW CAN COUNCIL TAX ADVISORS HELP?

If you receive a Court Summons you should contact Council Tax Advisors before the hearing date to avert further escalation. If you are subject to a Liability Order for unpaid Council Tax and you are having trouble agreeing an affordable repayment plan, then you should contact Council Tax Advisors as there may still be time to prevent bailiff action.

Professional Accreditations

accreditation-notforprofit