Exercising discretion when applying to the court for a Council Tax Liability Order

Helen Barker made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Darlington Borough Council

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

Mae'r ymateb i'r cais hwn yn hwyr iawn. Yn ôl y gyfraith, ym mhob amgylchiad, dylai Darlington Borough Council fod wedi ymateb erbyn hyn. (manylion). Gallwch gwyno drwy yn gofyn am adolygiad mewnol.

Dear Darlington Borough Council,

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (the "Regulations") confer a duty on the billing authority to exercise discretion under regulation 34(1) when deciding whether to institute a complaint to the Magistrates' court to enforce payment.

Regulation 34(1) as amended by Regulation 15 of SI 1992/3008 states, with the relevant part emphasised, as follows:

"If an amount which has fallen due under paragraph (3) or (4) of regulation 23 (including those paragraphs as applied as mentioned in regulation 28A(2)) is wholly or partly unpaid, or (in a case where a final notice is required under regulation 33) the amount stated in the final notice is wholly or partly unpaid at the expiry of the period of 7 days beginning with the day on which the notice was issued, THE BILLING AUTHORITY MAY, in accordance with paragraph (2), apply to a magistrates' court for an order against the person by whom it is payable."

Regulation 34(2) states as follows:

"The application is to be instituted by making complaint to a justice of the peace, and requesting the issue of a summons directed to that person to appear before the court to show why he has not paid the sum which is outstanding."

The following are examples (but by no means exhaustive) of what are reasonable factors a recovery officer should take into account in exercising discretion to institute a complaint to the Magistrates court under paragraph (2) of regulation 34 of the Regulations:

1. the level of debt outstanding

2. any payments made subsequent to the full amount becoming due and time remaining of the financial year

3. are circumstances indicative of the debt being settled without resorting to enforcement

4. consider if enforcing the debt would unnecessarily subject the taxpayer to additional costs etc. and therefore amount to a penalty (see 3 above)

5. ensure monies have been prioritised to maintaining the in-year debt

6. allocate to the in-year any monies posted to arrears (or sufficient of it) that would if it had not been misallocated prevented the in-year liability also falling in arrears (see 5 above)

7. check for benefit claims or appeals already in the system and refrain from taking enforcement action where such genuine cases are unresolved

Q1. Does Darlington Borough Council exercise discretion before proceeding under regulation 34(2) of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 to request a summons from a justice of the peace (it may be an automated process)

Q2. If yes to (1) what factors are taken into consideration

Yours faithfully,

Helen Barker

Darlington Borough Council

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Dear Ms Barker

 

Thank you for your request for information, received 18th April 2020. 

 

We are processing your request in accordance with our Freedom of
Information and Environmental Information Request Procedure, which you can
find on our [2]website.

 

While you could ordinarily expect a full response to your request within
20 working days in light of the restrictions currently in place due to
COVID-19 and the need to target our resources at meeting the needs of the
most vulnerable it is likely there will be a delay in you receiving a
response.  I apologise in advance, but trust you can appreciate why we are
unable to provide our usual standard of service during the pandemic.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Rachel Seddon

Complaints & Information Governance Assistant

(01325) 406777

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

Visible links
2. https://www.darlington.gov.uk/your-counc...

Darlington Borough Council

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Dear Ms Barker

 

Request reference: DBC-0101-20 

Please find attached the Council's response to your recent request for
information. Please accept my apologies for the delay in response to your
request. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Rachel Seddon

Complaints & Information Governance Assistant

(01325) 406777

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

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Dear Darlington Borough Council,

Thank you for your response. On a related matter I would like it clarifying what the council's procedure is regarding recovery. For example, I would like it confirming the level of costs and at what stage of recovery they are applied. Also whether an arrangement is possible at final notice or during/after the summons stage and whether this avoids costs/proceeding to liability order. I have been unable to find this specific information on the council's website nor have I been able to find a publicly available debt recovery policy.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Barker

Darlington Borough Council

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Dear Ms Barker

 

Thank you for your request for information, received 29th November 2020. 

 

We are processing your request in accordance with our Freedom of
Information and Environmental Information Request Procedure, which you can
find on our [2]website.

 

While you could ordinarily expect a full response to your request within
20 working days in light of the restrictions currently in place due to
COVID-19 and the need to target our resources at meeting the needs of the
most vulnerable it is likely there will be a delay in you receiving a
response.  I apologise in advance, but trust you can appreciate why we are
unable to provide our usual standard of service during the pandemic.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Rachel Seddon

Complaints & Information Governance Assistant

(01325) 406777

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

Visible links
2. https://www.darlington.gov.uk/your-counc...

Darlington Borough Council

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[1]{"HashCode":1844345984,"Height":841.0,"Width":595.0,"Placement":"Header","Index":"Primary","Section":1,"Top":0.0,"Left":0.0}

 

Dear Ms Barker

 

Request Reference: DBC-2299-20 

Please find attached the Council's response to your recent request for
information.  

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Rachel Seddon

Complaints & Information Governance Assistant

(01325) 406777

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

Visible links

Dear Darlington Borough Council,

Thank you for your response. Please confirm whether or not discretion is used for payment arrangements to be to made at final notice and confirm that if payment is tendered (an arrangement agreed) at the the summons stage, but before the court hearing, the the liability order is not proceeded with and the further costs (£44.00) are not included in the arrangement.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Barker

Darlington Borough Council

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Dear Ms Barker

 

Thank you for your request for information, received 25 December 2020. 

 

We are processing your request in accordance with our Freedom of
Information and Environmental Information Request Procedure, which you can
find on our [2]website.

 

While you could ordinarily expect a full response to your request within
20 working days in light of the restrictions currently in place due to
COVID-19 and the need to target our resources at meeting the needs of the
most vulnerable there may be a delay in you receiving a response.  I
apologise in advance, but trust you can appreciate why we are unable to
provide our usual standard of service during the pandemic.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Richie Sanderson

Complaints & Information Governance Assistant

(01325) 406777

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

Visible links
2. https://www.darlington.gov.uk/your-counc...

Darlington Borough Council

2 Atodiad

[1]{"HashCode":1844345984,"Height":841.0,"Width":595.0,"Placement":"Header","Index":"Primary","Section":1,"Top":0.0,"Left":0.0}

 

Dear Ms Barker

 

Request Reference: DBC-2516-20 

 

Thank you for your request to Darlington Borough Council, please see our
response in the attached letter. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Richie Sanderson

Complaints & Information Governance Assistant

(01325) 406777

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

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Dear Darlington Borough Council,

Thank you for your response.

I disagree with the council's assertion that it does not hold the information in a recorded format.

If discretion is used for payment arrangements at final notice then the information will be recorded in one form or another, for example the customer is likely to have confirmation in writing outlining the terms of the agreement which will be held on the council's records. Also, notes will be made on the council tax processing system.

Also if payment is tendered at the summons stage, but before the court hearing then it will be recorded in a similar way to the above whether the liability order was proceeded with (or not) and the further costs included.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Barker

Darlington Borough Council

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Dear Ms Barker

 

Thank you for your email received on 1st February 2021. I have logged
an internal review into the handling of your request and Susan Reynolds -
Information Governance Officer, will aim to provide you with a response
within 20 working days.  However, in light of the restrictions currently
in place due to COVID-19 and the need to target our resources at meeting
the needs of the most vulnerable it is likely there will be a delay in you
receiving a response.  I apologise in advance, but trust you can
appreciate why we are unable to provide our usual standard of service
during the pandemic.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Rachel Seddon

Complaints & Information Governance Assistant

(01325) 406777

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

Visible links

Dear Darlington Borough Council,

Thank you for your reply in which you expressed the need to target your resources at meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. However, if the council was less evasive in the way it handled the request initially, resources of the Information Governance Officer would have not need to have been expended.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Barker