Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law

Mrs. S Metcalfe made this Freedom of Information request to Sevenoaks District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by Sevenoaks District Council of their handling of this request.

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Sevenoaks District Council,

Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law

Please provide under the FOIA the law, custom or policy that states tha a council "Customer " must inform the council ahead of time that they will will be paying a sum to reduce the council tax bill to below the old Bankrutpcy level of £750 or the new level of £5000 in advance of the payment ?

Please also provide the precise section of the law, custom or policy that states unless a customer informs the council inadvance, ( even though they have been given no advance knowledge of this requirement by the council ) the council will take it upon themselves to keep any money the customer pays and will apply it to an earlier council tax liability order already secured on their home by a county court charging order .

Please provide your definition of "Customer" and what they can expect to receive in the way of transparent services .

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

autoresponder@sevenoaks.gov.uk, Sevenoaks District Council

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Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service), Sevenoaks District Council

Please find below the suggested response to this request.

This request does not come within the remit of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The Council follows principles established by the courts regarding payment allocation. Where a payment exactly matches an instalment due the council tax system is set up to allocate the monies to that instalment. Where the payment does not match, it is allocated to the oldest outstanding debt first.

When making a payment, if the customer specifies that they wish the payment to be allocated towards a specific debt, the payment will be allocated in accordance with their wishes.

We do not hold a formal definition of customer.

The applicant can find details regarding Council transparency on www.dartford.gov.uk and www.sevenoaks.gov.uk

Kind regards

Sue Cressall IRRV (Hons)
Revenues Manager
Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service

Tel: 01732 227041
Email: [email address]

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Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service), Sevenoaks District Council

Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service) would like to recall the message, "Freedom of Information request - Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law".

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Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service),

Thank you for confirming that you know of no law, custom or policy that states that anyone needs to inform the council in advance that they will be paying a sum to reduce the council tax bill to below the old bankruptcy level or new level in advance of them making a payment.Please provide the principles established by the courts that you say your council follows ?

Do you mean you allocate payment to the oldest non-secured debt ?

Please state where it says anywhere that a customer is required to tell you in advance as they have a right to presume it will be to the oldest non-secured debt or are you saying after they have made a payment it can be allocated to a specific debt ?

Or are you saying that you will take it upon yourselves to keep the money and apply to an earlier council tax liability order already secured on a home by a charging order without your customers consent ?

How do you define who you provide services for if not as a Customer ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service), Sevenoaks District Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

Peter v Anderson (1814) held that where there is no indication from the debtor, the creditor may apply payments as they think fit.

Stepney Corporation v Osofsky (1937) held that the debtor has first choice over allocation of payments; that the choice may be express or implied, and that the creditor cannot exercise discretion unless there is no indication by the debtor.

Albermarle Supply Co Ltd v Hind & Co (1928) held that, once an election as to where a payment should be allocated was made by a creditor, and communicated to the debtor, that allocation of payment was irrecoverable by the debtor

In summary the principles established by the Courts are:

- if the amount of the payment identifies the debt, a specific instalment etc., then it must be allocated accordingly
- where the debtor states or implies that the payment should be allocated to a specific debt, then the creditor must abide by that statement
- where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment should be allocated then it is up to the creditor to make the choice.

Payments received that do not identify the debt and where the debtor does not make reference as to where the payment should be allocated are put towards the oldest debt - whether this be secured or unsecured.

There is no legal requirement for a customer to advise the Council when making payment as to how they wish the money to be allocated. However, there is also no right to presume that the creditor will choose to apply payment to the oldest unsecured debt. Consent of the debtor is not required if there is no express or implied choice.

As stated we have no formal definition of 'customer' and I do not propose to comment further on this.

Kind regards

Sue Cressall IRRV (Hons)
Revenues Manager
Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service

Tel: 01732 227000
Email: [email address]

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Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service),

Can you please confirm where it says that your customers are required to be mind readers and to know what your policy is in advance, when there is no warning given anywhere on your website or eslewhere, that your council will treat their money as you think fit, and not presume as any normal person in the street would that any payment would automatically be paid to the first Unsecured debt.

Where does it state anywhere that you can reallocate funds to an already secured debt - the answer is it does not ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service), Sevenoaks District Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

I have already set out the relevant information regarding payment allocation. I regret that unless you wish to discuss allocations on a specific account within the Dartford Borough Council or Sevenoaks District Council areas I am unable to assist you or comment further.

Kind regards

Sue Cressall IRRV (Hons)
Revenues Manager
Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service

Tel: 01732 227000
Email: [email address]

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Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Sue Cressall (Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service),

This is a FOI Request for all information held by the Council where does it say in the FOI Act that I am required to discuss allocation on a specific account .

There is no law that states you can allocate money to a debt that has been secured without consent.

Customers are not required by law to make payments that match the Council Tax software system nor are they required to write in to you in advance of a payment nor are they expected to understand how your IT system is set up.

The Customers presumption is always to the current unsecured debt or they would have told you otherwise .

Do you allocate the payment to the current/oldest Unsecured debt ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Revenues@sevenoaks.gov.uk, Sevenoaks District Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

The Council has disclosed all the information regarding payment allocation that we hold and I regret that I cannot add anything further.

If you wish to submit a complaint under the Council's corporate complaints procedure regarding the way in which any specific payments made by you have been allocated, you can do so via the Council's website www.dartford.gov.uk/by-category/council-...

Kind regards

Sue Cressall IRRV (Hons)
Revenues Manager
Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service

Tel: 01732 227040
Email: [email address]

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Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Sevenoaks District Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Sevenoaks District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law'.

The Council is refusing to answer if they allocate their customers money to the current/oldest Unsecured debt as would be their customers presumption.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

autoresponder@sevenoaks.gov.uk, Sevenoaks District Council

Dear Customer

Thank you for contacting Sevenoaks
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This is an automated response to
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your request, we will contact you as soon as possible.

If your email relates to a current request for information, please disregard this email.

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Martin Goodman, Sevenoaks District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

 

Thank you for your request for a Freedom of Information review, which was
received by Sevenoaks District Council on 18 July 2016.

 

Your request for review is for the following reason:  “The Council is
refusing to answer if they allocate their customers money to the
current/oldest Unsecured debt as would be their customers presumption.” 

 

I have reviewed the handling of your original request and note the
responses sent to you on 21 June 2016 at 10:41 and 22 June 2016 at 14:02. 
You have been advised as follows, “Payments received that do not identify
the debt and where the debtor does not make reference as to where the
payment should be allocated are put towards the oldest debt - whether this
be secured or unsecured.”  In addition, it is clear from the emails sent
to you that if a customer specifies where a payment should be allocated,
or if a payment matches exactly an instalment, the payment will be
allocated accordingly.  I therefore consider that your request has been
answered in full.

 

This review is now complete and I trust you are satisfied.  If you remain
dissatisfied you have the right to appeal to the Information
Commissioners’ Office (ICO) [1]http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints/getting.

 

Martin Goodman

Head of Legal and Democratic Services | Monitoring Officer

Sevenoaks District Council | Council Offices | Argyle Road | Sevenoaks |
Kent | TN13 1HG

Tel: 01732 227245

DX 30006 SEVENOAKS

Email: [2][email address]

Online: [3]www.sevenoaks.gov.uk

 

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Dear Martin Goodman,

Please confirm where the council gets its authoirty to allocate the money to a debt that has already been secured without consent.

There is no law that states you can allocate money to a debt that has been secured without consent.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Martin Goodman, Sevenoaks District Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

Thank you for your email. Although I note the content of your email I must inform you that the Council's own review process is now complete and I have nothing to add to earlier replies.

If you remain dissatisfied you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints/getting .

Kind regards

Martin Goodman
Head of Legal and Democratic Services | Monitoring Officer
Sevenoaks District Council | Council Offices | Argyle Road | Sevenoaks | Kent | TN13 1HG
Tel: 01732 227245
DX 30006 SEVENOAKS
Email: [email address]
Online: www.sevenoaks.gov.uk

This email and any files transmitted with it are private and confidential and may be subject to legal professional privilege. It may not be disclosed to or used by anyone other than the intended recipient without the sender’s express consent.

If you have received this email in error, please advise the sender as soon as possible and permanently delete this email.

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Dear Martin Goodman,

Can you please confirm why Sseenoaks District Council has a problem providing the information asked for when other council's have had no problem doing so ?

What is your criteria for your customers letting you know what the payment was intended for, because it is always presumed that the customer would expect their payment to be used towards the first unsecured debt rather than a debt already secured by the council would a letter sent shortly afterwards suffice as is the case with other council's ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Martin Goodman, Sevenoaks District Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

Thank you for your email. I note the content and must remind you that the Council's own review process is now complete. I have nothing to add to earlier replies which I consider to have answered your question.

If you remain dissatisfied you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints/getting.

Kind regards

Martin Goodman
Head of Legal and Democratic Services | Monitoring Officer
Sevenoaks District Council | Council Offices | Argyle Road | Sevenoaks | Kent | TN13 1HG
Tel: 01732 227245
DX 30006 SEVENOAKS
Email: [email address]
Online: www.sevenoaks.gov.uk

This email and any files transmitted with it are private and confidential and may be subject to legal professional privilege. It may not be disclosed to or used by anyone other than the intended recipient without the sender’s express consent.

If you have received this email in error, please advise the sender as soon as possible and permanently delete this email.

show quoted sections

Dear Martin Goodman,

Can you please confirm why Seveoks District Council has a problem providing the information asked for when other council's have had no problem doing so ?

What is your criteria for your customers letting you know what the payment was intended for, because it is always presumed that the customer would expect their payment to be used towards the first unsecured debt rather than a debt already secured by the council would a letter sent shortly afterwards suffice as is the case with other councils when payment is made using the council's on-line or automated telephone system ?

R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953) held that where an amount obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere.

It could be drawn from the law of appropriation (Debtor’s rights) set out in Chitty on Contracts (31st Edition) Volume 1 at Para 21-061 that where the purpose for which a payment is made is unspecified it must be carried to the account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce:

“DEBTOR'S RIGHT TO APPROPRIATE. It is essential that an appropriation by the debtor should take the form of a communication, express or implied, to the creditor of the debtor’s intention to appropriate the payment to a specified debt or debts so that the creditor may know that his rights of appropriation as creditor cannot arise. It is not essential that the debtor should expressly specify at the time of the payment which debt or account he intended the payment to be applied to. His intention may be collected from other circumstances showing that he intended at the time of the payment to appropriate it to a specific debt or account. Thus, where at the date of payment some of his debts are statute barred and others are not, it will be inferred (in the absence of evidence to the contrary) that the debtor appropriated the payment to the debts that were not so barred.”

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Martin Goodman, Sevenoaks District Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

Thank you for your email. I note the content and must remind you that the Council's own review process is now complete. I have nothing to add to earlier replies which I consider to have answered your question.

If you remain dissatisfied you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints/getting .

Kind regards

Martin Goodman
Head of Legal and Democratic Services | Monitoring Officer
Sevenoaks District Council | Council Offices | Argyle Road | Sevenoaks | Kent | TN13 1HG
Tel: 01732 227245
DX 30006 SEVENOAKS
Email: [email address]
Online: www.sevenoaks.gov.uk

This email and any files transmitted with it are private and confidential and may be subject to legal professional privilege. It may not be disclosed to or used by anyone other than the intended recipient without the sender’s express consent.

If you have received this email in error, please advise the sender as soon as possible and permanently delete this email.

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Dear Martin Goodman,

Sevenoaks District Council may maintain that can avoid answering the questions asked and avoid giving clarification but this is against the Freeom of Information Act which is the law.

In addition other councils have had no problem providing the answers and a collation of transparent council's which yours is clearly not is available publicity on this website.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Neil Gilliatt (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Re; Dartford and Sevenoaks Revenues Service's 22 June 2016 response.

One of those cases which have been cited (Peters v Anderson) also held that a debtor's indication as to which debt is elected for the purpose of reducing the indebtedness may be inferred from the circumstances of the transaction.

The judgment in Peters v Anderson, held that:

“A person who is indebted to another on two several accounts, may, on paying him money, ascribe it to which account he pleases...and his election may either be expressed....or may be inferred from the circumstances of the transaction.”
( http://tinyurl.com/gv2wyva paragraph 24)

Considering that an election may may be inferred from the circumstances of the transaction it would be obviously implied which debt payment was intended if allocating monies to an older balance would likely put the current year's liability in arrears.

A more recent case (R v Miskin Lower Justices) reinforces the above:
http://tinyurl.com/zj836hw

In R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953) it was held that where an amount so obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere.

Obviously it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate monies to a sum in arrears if it is likely to also put the current year's liability in arrears.

It would seem that the anomaly could be largely eliminated by setting the system to allocate payments which do not match a debt instalment to the current year's liability and at the same time complying fully with the laws of appropriation, i.e., in accordance with the judgment in R v Miskin Lower justices.