Amount Cornwall Council were overchaged for summonses by The Ministry of Justice.

The request was successful.

Dear Cornwall Council,
The Ministry of Justice said court fees for council tax summons had been set too high since 2013-4 following an "administrative error".

Could you please supply me with the following information:-
1. How much were Cornwall Council overcharged for each of the following years?
2. Have Cornwall Council now received a full refund?

2013-14
2014-15
2015-16
2016-17
2017-18
2018-19

Yours faithfully,

PAUL PATTERSON

Cornwall Council

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Revenues and Assessment - Freedom of Information, Cornwall Council

1 Attachment

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

 

Your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

 

Thank you for your request dated 10 August 2020.

 

Please find enclosed the Council’s response to your request.

 

We hope that this fully satisfies your enquiry, but should you require
further information at any time please feel free to submit a new request.

 

Cornwall Council is committed to open and transparent government and
provides information to members of the public about all aspects of the
authority.

 

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Lisa Chirgwin

Technical Officer Revenues and Assessments

Customer and Business Operations Service

Cornwall Council

 

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Revenues and Assessment - Freedom of Information, Cornwall Council

Revenues and Assessment - Freedom of Information would like to recall the message, "Freedom of Information response 101005054618".
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Dear Revenues and Assessment - Freedom of Information
You state that," The new fee was implemented with immediate effect, which prevented
any overcharges occurring."

I think that you will find this incorrect. The Ministry of Justice errored with their summons charges from 2013 and overcharged councils from 2013.

The Ministry of Justice said court fees for council tax summons had been set too high since 2013-4 following an "administrative error".
Councils had overpaid by about £9m a year since then, it said, and were entitled to be compensated in full.
https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/m...
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-4...
I look forward to receiving a correct reply to my request.
Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Dear Revenues and Assessment - Freedom of Information,

You have failed to provided the information to my FOI request, 'Amount Cornwall Council were overchaged for summonses by The Ministry of Justice,' promptly, as normally required by law.

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Revenues and Assessment - Freedom of Information, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for contacting us on the 8 September 2020, concerning your Freedom of Information Request, which you submitted on the 10 August 2020. I can see that we sent you our response to your request on the 1 September 2020, which you then asked us to review on the 1 September 2020. Firstly, I am very sorry that we didn't acknowledge receipt of your email and confirm that we would research the additional information you kindly provided us.

Having reviewed your request, I would like to refer you to The Court of Protection, Civil Proceedings and Magistrates' Courts Fees (Amendment) Order 2018, which came into force on the 25 July 2018 and as you know reduced the Liability Order fee from £3.00 to £0.50p.

You can view the above legislation at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018....

Cornwall Council was able to implement the changes to the liability order fee before the next court hearing that was due to be held at Truro Magistrates Court on the 22 August 2018, so no overpayments occurred.

The Ministry of Justice proposals for the reform of court fees was in two parts. Part one, 'Cost recovery' set out proposals to recover close to the full cost of the civil court system through fees, transferring more of the cost to the user and reducing the cost to the general taxpayer. Part two, 'Enhanced charging', proposed setting some fees above cost to better reflect the value of those proceedings to the court user.

The Ministry of Justice proposal for the reform of Court Fees was published on the 3 December 2013. These proposals were later laid before Parliament on the 4 July 2018, with The Court of Protection, Civil Proceedings and Magistrates' Courts Fees (Amendment) Order 2018 coming into force on the 25 July 2018.

Full details about the Ministry of Justice consultation on court fees can be viewed on the following link:

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-c...

The Statement made to Parliament can be viewed on the following link:

https://questions-statements.parliament....

You may wish to contact the Ministry of Justice if you have any further questions concerning the reform of court fees .

Kind regards

Mrs Liza Johnson|Assessment, Billing and Collection Technical Officer
Konsel Kernow/Cornwall Council| Customer & Business Operations
Email: [email address]|
Web: www.cornwall.gov.uk
https://vimeo.com/cornwallcouncil

‘Onen hag oll’

show quoted sections

Dear Revenues and Assessment - Freedom of Information,
You state Cornwall Council were not overcharged, yet The Ministry of Justice said court fees for council tax summons had been set too high since 2013-4 following an "administrative error".
Councils had overpaid by about £9m a year since then, it said, and were entitled to be compensated in full.
Cornwall Council were charging £3.00 Summons charges 2014 -18. Going by the Ministry of Justice statement they should have only been charging 50p.

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Liza Johnson, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for your email.

If you wish to know which organisations were compensated following the reform of Court Fees, which came into force from the 25 July 2018 you will need to contact the Ministry of Justice.

Kind regards

Mrs Liza Johnson|Assessment, Billing and Collection Technical Officer
Konsel Kernow/Cornwall Council| Customer & Business Operations
Email: [email address]|
Web: www.cornwall.gov.uk
https://vimeo.com/cornwallcouncil

show quoted sections

Dear Liza Johnson,
You state that Cornwall Council implemented the 50p summons in 2018.

But it should have been imlemented in 2014 so the fact is Cornwall Council was overcharged, but have not decided to claim it back, as the money is the publics who were overcharged since 2014. Here is a letter from Bournmouth Council confirming this: -

Dear Mr Bell,
Information Request – Freedom of Information Act
Further to your request for information received on 01/09/2020 please find below the material that you asked for.
1) BCP Council came into effect on 1 April 2019, so any overcharged fees would relate to the previous Councils. Poole and Christchurch have nothing for any of the years. The amount overcharged is not recorded, but the number of summons issued (for Council Tax and Business Rates) from Bournemouth Borough Council was 2013-14 - 10,825 2014-15 - 15,459 2015-16 - 11,904 2016-17 - 11,981 2017-18 - 10,481 2018-19 - 11,616
2) No, the Government have not refunded Council's. The understanding is that anyone who believes they may have paid too much for court services between April 2014 and March 2018 can apply to the Government for a refund - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/court...
I hope that this deals with your request satisfactorily.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

2) No, the Government have not refunded Council's. The understanding is that anyone who believes they may have paid too much for court services between April 2014 and March 2018 can apply to the Government for a refund.

So it seems that the public themselves have to claim the refunds.

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Dear Liza Johnson,
Some futher information for you, all councils were overcharged so could I have the figures that I first asked for. Cornwall Council did not implement the charges of 50p from 2014 -18
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/court...

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Liza Johnson, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for your emails. I will look at the additional information you have provided me over the next 7-10 days and I will contact you in due course.

Kind regards

Mrs Liza Johnson|Assessment, Billing and Collection Technical Officer
Konsel Kernow/Cornwall Council| Customer & Business Operations
Email: [email address]|
Web: www.cornwall.gov.uk
https://vimeo.com/cornwallcouncil

show quoted sections

Technical Officers Income, Cornwall Council

1 Attachment

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for contacting me on the 14 September 2020, concerning the Ministry of Justice review of court fees and thank you for providing me with the additional information you wished me to review, it is appreciated.

I can see that BCP Council, in respect of their Freedom of Information Response have provided the number of summonses issued for each financial year between 2014-2019, and they have clarified that they have not recorded any court fee amounts overcharged. They have also provided a link on how to apply to the Government for a refund, which was published on the 16 January 2020 and can be viewed on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/court....

Having reviewed the court fee refund guidance document, I cannot see that it lists applications for liability orders as one of the refundable over-charged fees that can be claimed between 22 April 2014 and 31 March 2018. You can view the full guidance on the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk....

As previously advised, Cornwall Council was able to implement the changes to the liability order fee, following the change to the legislation before the next court hearing that was due to be held at Truro Magistrates Court on the 22 August 2018, so no overpayments occurred.

You can view the above legislation at https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlo....

Kind regards

Mrs Liza Johnson|Assessment, Billing and Collection Technical Officer
Konsel Kernow/Cornwall Council| Customer & Business Operations
Email: [email address]|
Web: www.cornwall.gov.uk
https://vimeo.com/cornwallcouncil

‘Onen hag oll’

show quoted sections

Dear Technical Officers Income,
There is no court cost for the liability order. I am asking for the overcharge in the issuing of the council tax summons. Cornwall Council were overcharged from 2014 to 2018
Cornwall Council did not implement the 50p summons cost until August 2018
My own summonses from 2015 - 2017-18 show that the council were still charging £3.00
So I'm still asking the original questions which have not been answered.
So have Cornwall council claimed the overcharge back from the MOJ for summonses charge at £3.00 each
from 2014- 2018?
If not, why not?

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Liza Johnson, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

The Court of Protection, Civil Proceedings and Magistrates’ Court Fees (Amendment) Order 2018, changed the application for a liability order from £3.00 to £0.50p. The Ministry of Justice review of court fees did not amend Regulation 34(7) of The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, which states that provided that when granting a liability order the court shall make an order reflecting the aggregate of the outstanding council tax and “a sum of an amount equal to the costs reasonably incurred by the applicant in obtaining the order”.

We have not claimed a refund from the Ministry of Justice because:

• Cornwall Council was able to implement The Court of Protection, Civil Proceedings and Magistrates’ Court Fees (Amendment) Order 2018 (which came into force on the 25 July 2018) before the next court hearing, that was due to be held at Truro Magistrates Court on the 22 August 2018, so no overpayments occurred.
•There were no amendments to Regulation 34 (7) of The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, in respect of costs ‘reasonably’ incurred.
•The Court Fee refund guidance document does not list the application for a liability order, as one of the refundable over-charged fees.

Our Business Rates and Council Tax Summons and Liability Order charges are calculated and reviewed by the Revenues and Assessment Service and the Finance Service.

The calculation is presented to the Magistrates’ court as part of the application for a liability order and reasonable costs, which are made up of staff costs involved in the administration. Please may I refer you to your previous Freedom of Information Request FOI 101004420840, which provided you with a breakdown of the printing, postage and labour costs.

Kind regards

Mrs Liza Johnson|Assessment, Billing and Collection Technical Officer
Konsel Kernow/Cornwall Council| Customer & Business Operations
Email: [email address]|
Web: www.cornwall.gov.uk
https://vimeo.com/cornwallcouncil

‘Onen hag oll’

show quoted sections

Dear Liza Johnson,
You state there was no overcharge. The MOJ tell me otherwise:-
Regarding Question (3), the amounts that Cornwall Council were overcharged for the years in question were:
Year Overcharge
2013-14 61,082.50
2014-15 54,052.50
2015-16 72,347.50
2016-17 58,117.50
2017-18 59,897.50
Total 305,497.50
Bob Weston (Gloucester), Ministry of Justice 7 October 2020
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Liza Johnson, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for contacting me on the 7 October 2020 and thank you for providing me with a link to your response from the MOJ.

I will email you again, once I have fully investigated the information.

Kind regards

Mrs Liza Johnson|Assessment, Billing and Collection Technical Officer
Konsel Kernow/Cornwall Council| Customer & Business Operations
Email: [email address]| Web: www.cornwall.gov.uk
https://vimeo.com/cornwallcouncil

‘Onen hag oll’

show quoted sections

Technical Officers Income, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for your response.

I am advised you should contact the Ministry of Justice(MOJ) with regards to any further query you may have on this matter as we are awaiting their guidance on any action we need to take in respect of this.

Once the MOJ have advised Cornwall Council of the process to follow then they will look to undertake all necessary action.

Kind regards

Lisa

show quoted sections

Dear Technical Officers Income,
Dear Liz,
There is no need for me to contact the Ministry of Justice(MOJ) with regards to any further query as they have already provided me with all the information you failed to give me. They also stated that Cornwall Council were overcharged, which you constantly told me they hadn't.

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Technical Officers Income, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

To clarify the position of Cornwall Council regarding the change in level of court fees payable in connection with an application of a liability order.

Cornwall Council amended the level of fees charged in the required timescale once it had been made aware that they had reduced from £3.00 to £0.50. We are aware that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has, on their future work plan, an exercise to refund court fees in connection with the change and delay in the implementation of the amended amount, and it will only be at that point that any adjustment to the fees paid/payable on relevant council tax accounts will take place.

Kind regards

Lisa

show quoted sections

Dear Technical Officers Income,
Dear Lisa,
I was aware that Cornwall Council amended the level of fees charged in the required timescale once it had been made aware that they had been reduced from £3.00 to £0.50. But Cornwall Council were like all other councils only made aware in 2018.

The new cost of 50p should have been amended by MOJ in 2014
So I was asking you by how much was Cornwall Council overcharged? But you kept insisting the council had not been overcharge.

So it seems to me Cornwall Council had no idea they had been overcharged by over £300,000 otherwise you would have supplied me with the requested figures as quickly as the MOJ did.

I would have thought the council now as a goodwill gesture would retract all my liability orders and zero all my future coucil tax as a goodwill gesture.

When councils are making so many cuts to their services pleading poverty, and yet increasing council tax bills year after year, £300,000 is a lot of money to lose. If you or the 151 officer (Finance Officer) were not aware of this overcharge, who was at the council?

Seems I've lost my way in life, I should have been a council employee on over £100,000 per year and a handsome pension.

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Technical Officers Income, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for your response.

Just to reiterate we are aware of the period of time that we continued to be charged £3.00 and not £0.50. Ultimately when a liability order is paid by the taxpayer then the court costs are also recovered. So for all the recovered court costs, if the Ministry Of Justice refunded Cornwall Council, then this would be passed onto those taxpayers that had paid these higher charges.

With regards to your comments about retracting all of your Council Tax charge as a goodwill gesture, unfortunately we are able to do this.

Cornwall Council have a duty to collect council tax, which was introduced by the Local Government Finance Act 1992 with effect from 1 April 1993.

Council Tax is a crucial source of income which enables the Council to provide its services.

Kind regards

Lisa

show quoted sections

Technical Officers Income, Cornwall Council

Technical Officers Income would like to recall the message, "FW: FW: Recall: Freedom of Information response 101005054618".
This e-mail and attachments are intended for above named only and may be confidential. If they have come to you in error you must take no action based on them, nor must you copy or show them to anyone; please e-mail us immediately at [email address]. Please note that this e-mail may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in accordance with the relevant legislation and may need to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Security Warning: It is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that this e-mail and any attachments are virus free. The Authority will not accept liability for any damage caused by a virus.

Lisa Chirgwin, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Corrected response, I apologise as my previous response had one word missing.

Thank you for your response.

Just to reiterate we are aware of the period of time that we continued to be charged £3.00 and not £0.50. Ultimately when a liability order is paid by the taxpayer then the court costs are also recovered. So for all the recovered court costs, if the Ministry Of Justice refunded Cornwall Council, then this would be passed onto those taxpayers that had paid these higher charges.

With regards to your comments about retracting all of your Council Tax charge as a goodwill gesture, unfortunately we not are able to do this.

Cornwall Council have a duty to collect council tax, which was introduced by the Local Government Finance Act 1992 with effect from 1 April 1993.

Council Tax is a crucial source of income which enables the Council to provide its services.

Kind regards

Lisa

show quoted sections

Dear Lisa Chirgwin,
I thank you for all your replies. I'd like to say I hold no malice towards you or any council employee, HMCTS or MOJ employee.
But I'd like to say there are many of you who don't realise what you are doing concerning summonses and the collection of council tax is wrong.
I leave here the comments made by Phillip Taylor MBE barrister Richmond Green Chamabers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd7Xx3wA...

Yours sincerely,

PAUL PATTERSON

Lisa Chirgwin, Cornwall Council

Information Classification: CONTROLLED

Dear Mr Patterson

Thank you for your further comments, which are duly noted.

Kind regards

Lisa

show quoted sections

Warren Bell left an annotation ()

The issue which arises here is that due the council being overcharged they would have applied for a sum certain. Any sum certain claimed for by said council would have been incorrect due to the overcharging. Any liability order would be void as would recovery.