If you have received a court summons
You will receive a summons if you haven’t paid the debt you owe as agreed in a payment plan. We will have already sent you a reminder and final notice before taking this step.
A summons is a legal notice to start official debt recovery proceedings against you. You will need to do one of the following:
- Agree to pay the debt in full. You will not need to attend court and as long as any future payments are made no further action will be taken. Contact us to make payment arrangements.
- Agree to pay the debt using a formalised payment plan, you will not need to attend court. We will apply for a liability order which enables us to recover the debt if you do not pay. Contact us to make payment plan arrangements.
- Attend court to dispute your liability for the debt.
What is a liability order?
The council will request a liability order in court which will enable them to take more actions to recover the money if you do not stick to your payment plan. This enables the council to legally do the following:
- Deduct money you owe directly from your net wage, at the rate specified by law, this is known as an attachment of earnings
- Deduct money you owe from your income support or jobseekers allowance, again at the rate specified by law, this is known as an attachment of benefit
- Pass your debt on to enforcement agents (formally known as bailiffs). Once the enforcement agents have become involved any arrangement must be made direct with them. There will be additional costs incurred if this route is taken.
- If the debt remains outstanding following enforcement agents action we 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.
- We 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 us are not then paid, an enforced sale of the property can be investigated, again by order of the court, this is known as a charging order.
- We can 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.
An outstanding benefit claim or appeal against your property band is not a valid defence against the granting of a liability order.
Attending court - disputing liability
You will only be required to attend the magistrates court 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 six years have elapsed since the day on which the sum became due.
- Bankruptcy or winding up proceedings have been initiated