Council tax payment allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]

The request was partially successful.

Dear Peterborough City Council,

The Council makes the statements quoted below from the link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

"- Where the value of a payment received equals that of an instalment/amount owing the payment will be credited to the relevant matching amount regardless of what year that bill relates to. This is in accordance with the precedence sent in the case of R v Miskin Lower Justices 1953.

- Where no instructions are received from the customer and the amount paid does not equal a specific instalment or outstanding bill the amount can be allocated as the creditor (in this case the Council) deems fit. The authority for this is the case of Peter v Anderson 1814. Peterborough City Council will normally allocate payments to the oldest debt first in these cases."

The council's above statements do not agree with the judgment in the case of R. v Miskin Lower Justices (nor Peter v Anderson see below link to the Miskin judgment):

http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

The judgment clarifies the position in cases where a creditor has to make a decision as to which account payment should be allocated when a debtor has one account more burdensome for him than another and his payment is unspecified

Clearly the council's statement, if it were to agree with the judgment, would be.....

[[ Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment should be allocated then the creditor must allocate the payment to the account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. ]]

Q. Where did the council obtain the information regarding the appropriation of payments case law which conflicts with the judgment in R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]?
Yours faithfully,

S Staffordson

FOI Team, Peterborough City Council

Dear S Staffordson 
This is a courtesy email to let you know your Public Information
Request has been received on : 16/09/2019. 
Your unique reference number is "CRN1909780457 ". Please keep this
number safe, as you may be required to provide it in the future. 
Regards,
Customer Service Team

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"FOI Team" <foi@peterborough.gov.uk>, Peterborough City Council

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – CRN1909780457     

 

Dear Sir / Madam,

 

Your request for information, with reference number CRN1909780457 has now been considered and
the information requested is given below.

Information Request: 

The Council makes the statements quoted below from the link:
[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

"-     Where the value of a payment received equals that of an instalment/amount owing the
payment will be credited to the relevant matching amount regardless of what year that bill
relates to.  This is in accordance with the precedence sent in the case of R v Miskin Lower
Justices 1953.

-     Where no instructions are received from the customer and the amount paid does not equal a
specific instalment or outstanding bill the amount can be allocated as the creditor (in this
case the Council) deems fit.  The authority for this is the case of Peter v Anderson 1814. 
Peterborough City Council will normally allocate payments to the oldest debt first in these
cases."

The council's above statements do not agree with the judgment in the case of R. v Miskin Lower
Justices (nor Peter v Anderson see below link to the Miskin judgment):

[2]http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

The judgment clarifies the position in cases where a creditor has to make a decision as to
which account payment should be allocated when a debtor has one account more burdensome for him
than another and his payment is unspecified

Clearly the council's statement, if it were to agree with the judgment, would be.....

[[ Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment should be allocated
then the creditor must allocate the payment to the account which it is most beneficial to the
debtor to reduce. ]]

Q. Where did the council obtain the information regarding the appropriation of payments case
law which conflicts with the judgment in R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]?

        

Our Response:

There are two pieces of case law that give precedence over different points of law, one over
the situation where a customer gives specific instructions,  the other when they do not.  

 

Where the value of a payment received equals that of an instalment/amount owing the payment
will be credited to the relevant matching amount regardless of what year that bill relates to. 
This is in accordance with the precedence sent in the case of R v Miskin Lower Justices 1953

Where no instructions are received from the customer and the amount paid does not equal a
specific instalment or outstanding bill, the amount can be allocated as the creditor (in this
case the Council) deems fit.  The authority for this is the case of Peter v Anderson 1814.  
 

Please note the Council does not hold any information in relation to your request.   The
Freedom of Information Act only covers information held in recorded form, therefore local
authorities are not required to create new information or find the answer to a question from
staff who may happen to know it.  Staff dealing with appropriation of payments are trained in
their field of expertise and relevant case law material can be accessed as it is
publicly available.

 

Please note that we are more than happy to review a case if the individual believes we have
allocated their payment incorrectly. Should you require any further information, the Council
Tax Team can be contacted by email  [3][email address] or by telephone 01733
452258.  

 

 

       

Re-use of information

You may re-use any documents supplied for your own use, including for non-commercial research
purposes. The documents may also be used for news reporting. However, any other type of re-use,
for example by publishing the documents or issuing copies to the public will require the
permission of the copyright owner, where copyright exists.  Such a request would be considered
separately in accordance with the relevant Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015
and is not automatic.  Therefore no permission is implied in the re-use of these documents,
until such a request for re-use has been made and agreed, subject to any appropriate
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You may re-use any dataset included in this response (excluding logos) free of charge, in any
format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence v2.0. To view this licence,
visit the [4]National Archives website or email [5][email address].  Where we
have identified any third-party copyright information, you will need to obtain permission from
the copyright holders concerned.  Users reproducing Peterborough City Council content without
adaptation should include a source accreditation to Peterborough City Council: Source:
Peterborough City Council licensed under the Open Government Licence v.2.0.  Users reproducing
content which is adapted should include a source accreditation to Peterborough City
Council: Adapted from data from Peterborough City Council licensed under the Open Government
Licence v.2.0.

 

If you have any queries or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request please contact the Information
Manager, Peterborough City Council, Sand Martin House, Bittern Way, Fletton Quays,
Peterborough, PE2 8TY; Telephone: 01733 452533, e-mail: [6][Peterborough City Council request email]

 

You can also complain to the Information Commissioner at:

            The Information Commissioner's Office

            Wycliffe House, Water lane

            Wilmslow, Cheshire

            SK9 5AF

            Tel: 01625 545700

[7]http://www.ico.org.uk/

 

Yours faithfully

 

Tracey Wright

Information Manager

Peterborough City Council

Sand Martin House, Bittern Way

Fletton Quays

Peterborough

PE2 8TY

 

foi[8]@peterborough.gov.uk

Telephone 01733 452533

ref:_00Db0eVBc._5000X1uhNul:ref

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5. mailto:[email address]
6. mailto:[Peterborough City Council request email]
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http://www.ico.org.uk/
8. mailto:[Peterborough City Council request email]
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Dear "FOI Team" <[email address]>,

Thank you for your response. The two summaries of the authority in respect of R v Miskin Lower Justices 1953 and Peter v Anderson 1814 are desperately inadequate. Can you confirm that the information was obtained from the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV), i.e the Insight magazine (10 October 2002)?

http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Peterborough City Council

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST FOI 1909780457 Supplementary question

 

Dear S Staffordson,

 

Thank you for your email in which you have raised a supplementary
question, as detailed below.

 

Supplementary Request

 

Thank you for your response.

 

The two summaries of the authority in respect of R v Miskin Lower Justices
1953 and Peter v Anderson 1814 are desperately inadequate. Can you confirm
that the information was obtained from the Institute of Revenues Rating
and Valuation (IRRV), i.e the Insight magazine (10 October 2002)?

[1]http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

 

Your request has been passed to the relevant department for a response. As
soon as the information is available I will be in touch with you again and
no later than 11^th November 2019

 

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI TEAM
Information Governance
Peterborough City Council
Sand Martin House
Bittern Way
Fletton Quays
Peterborough
PE2 8TY
Contact details:
Kevin Taylor, Access to Information Officer - 01733 452576
Sadaf Abdullah, Access to Records Officer - 01733 864668
Tracey Wright, Information Manager - 01733 452533
Ben Stevenson, Data Protection Officer on 01733 452387 (non-working day
Wed)
Emma Doran, 
Business Support Officer - 01733 453571
Email: [2]f[3][email address
To find out more about Peterborough City Council please go
to [4]www.peterborough.gov.uk. 
Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Conditions apply to the confidentiality, copyright, legal liability and
use of this email.For full information relating to the transmission and
use of this email please visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer

References

Visible links
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2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Peterborough City Council

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST –  FOI 1909780457 Supplementary question

 

Dear S Staffordson,

 

I am writing in response to your recent email whereby you submitted a
Supplementary question.  

 

Your request for information has now been considered and the response is
shown below:

 

Original Request and Response

[1]https://pcc.secure.force.com/SitePublish...

 

 

Supplementary Request

 

Thank you for your response.

 

The two summaries of the authority in respect of R v Miskin Lower Justices
1953 and Peter v Anderson 1814 are desperately inadequate. Can you confirm
that the information was obtained from the Institute of Revenues Rating
and Valuation (IRRV), i.e the Insight magazine (10 October 2002)?

[2]http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

 

 

Supplementary Response

The Freedom of Information Act only covers information held in recorded
form, therefore local authorities are not required to create new
information or find the answer to a question from staff who may happen to
know it.  Staff dealing with appropriation of payments are trained in
their field of expertise and relevant case law material can be accessed as
it is publicly available.

 

Please note that we are more than happy to review a case if the individual
believes we have allocated their payment incorrectly. Should you require
any further information, the Council Tax Team can be contacted by
email  [3][email address] or by telephone 01733
452258.  

 

 

If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to
contact me.

___________________________________________________________________    

 

Re-use of information

You may re-use any documents supplied for your own use, including for
non-commercial research purposes. The documents may also be used for news
reporting. However, any other type of re-use, for example by publishing
the documents or issuing copies to the public will require the permission
of the copyright owner, where copyright exists.  Such a request would be
considered separately in accordance with the relevant Re-use of Public
Sector Information Regulations 2015 and is not automatic.  Therefore no
permission is implied in the re-use of these documents, until such a
request for re-use has been made and agreed, subject to any appropriate
conditions. 

 

You may re-use any dataset included in this response (excluding logos)
free of charge, in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open
Government Licence v2.0. To view this licence, visit the [4]National
Archives website or email [5][email address].  Where we
have identified any third-party copyright information, you will need to
obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.  Users reproducing
Peterborough City Council content without adaptation should include a
source accreditation to Peterborough City Council: Source: Peterborough
City Council licensed under the Open Government Licence v.2.0. Users
reproducing content which is adapted should include a source accreditation
to Peterborough City Council: Adapted from data from Peterborough City
Council licensed under the Open Government Licence v.2.0.

 

If you have any queries or concerns then please do not hesitate to
contact me.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request please contact
the Information Specialist, Peterborough City Council, Sand Martin House,
Bittern Way, Fletton Quays, Peterborough, PE2 8TY; Telephone: 01733
452533, e-mail: [6][Peterborough City Council request email]

 

You can also complain to the Information Commissioner at:

 

            The Information Commissioner's Office

            Wycliffe House, Water lane

            Wilmslow, Cheshire

            SK9 5AF

 

            Tel: 01625 545700

[7]http://www.ico.org.uk/

 

 

 

Yours sincerely  

FOI TEAM
Information Governance
Peterborough City Council
Sand Martin House
Bittern Way
Fletton Quays
Peterborough
PE2 8TY
Contact details:
Kevin Taylor, Access to Information Officer - 01733 452576
Sadaf Abdullah, Access to Records Officer - 01733 864668
Tracey Wright, Information Manager - 01733 452533
Ben Stevenson, Data Protection Officer on 01733 452387 (non-working day
Wed)
Emma Doran, 
Business Support Officer - 01733 453571
Email: [8]f[9][email address
To find out more about Peterborough City Council please go
to [10]www.peterborough.gov.uk. 
Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Conditions apply to the confidentiality, copyright, legal liability and
use of this email.For full information relating to the transmission and
use of this email please visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer

References

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2. http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
5. mailto:[email address]
6. mailto:[Peterborough City Council request email]
7. http://www.ico.org.uk/
http://www.ico.org.uk/
8. mailto:[email address]
9. mailto:[email address]
10. http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/

Dear Peterborough City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Peterborough City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council tax payment allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]'.

When a decision is made with potentially legal implications the council is required to consult the Monitoring Officer and such procedures should be formally recorded. A decision that requires setting the parameters of a council tax payment processing system to automatically allocate non-specific payments to the oldest account rather than to the in-year account is one such decision.

If the proper legal process was followed when the decision was made then there will be a record of it comprising a background outlining the relevant legal requirements and risk assessment highlighting the degree to which the council would be exposed to legal challenge if not complied with. The following is an example of the kind of assessment that should have been documented.

https://democracy.npt.gov.uk/documents/s...

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,

S Staffordson

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Peterborough City Council

Please note that Peterborough City Council will be closed from noon on
Tuesday 24 December 2019 until Thursday 2 January 2020.

 

Emails received during this period will be actioned upon our return. 

 

The Information Governance Team would like to wish you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year.

Conditions apply to the confidentiality, copyright, legal liability and
use of this email.For full information relating to the transmission and
use of this email please visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Peterborough City Council

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST –  FOI - 1909780457

 

Dear S Staffordson,

 

Thank you for your email dated 2^nd January 2020 regarding our response to
your Supplementary Freedom of Information request.

 

A senior manager or legal advisor who was not involved in the original
request will now carry out an internal review. We aim to handle simple
internal reviews in 20 working days, in this case by 31^st January 2020.
We aim to handle internal reviews that involve complex issues that require
further investigation and those that require consideration of the public
interest test, in 40 working days.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the internal review of our decision, or an
internal review was not available, you can seek an appeal from the
Information Commissioner by writing to:

 

The Information Commissioner's Office

            Wycliffe House, Water lane

            Wilmslow, Cheshire

            SK9 5AF

            Tel: 01625 545700

[1]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Yours faithfully

 

FOI TEAM

Information Governance
Peterborough City Council
Sand Martin House
Bittern Way
Fletton Quays
Peterborough
PE2 8TY
Contact details:
Kevin Taylor, Access to Information Officer - 01733 452576
Tazeem Akhtar, Access to Information Officer - 01733 207138
Sadaf Abdullah, Access to Records Officer - 01733 864668
Tracey Wright, Information Manager - 01733 452533
Ben Stevenson, Data Protection Officer on 01733 452387 (non-working day
Wed)
Emma Doran, 
Business Support Officer - 01733 453571
Email: [2]f[3][email address
To find out more about Peterborough City Council please go
to [4]www.peterborough.gov.uk. 
Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Conditions apply to the confidentiality, copyright, legal liability and
use of this email.For full information relating to the transmission and
use of this email please visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer

References

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2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Peterborough City Council

Freedom of Information Act Request FOI 1909780457

 

Dear Mr Staffordson,

You have requested, (your email of 2 January 2020), an internal review. 
Your concern was regarding our responses to your original request and
subsequent supplementary request.

 

I can confirm that the council’s legal department has carried out an
internal review. As part of that review the legal department has seen all
the correspondence relating to your information request and considered the
applicable legislation before providing advice in this matter.

 

This letter forms the council’s formal response to your request for a
review.  For ease of reference, the details of the initial request for
information and the council’s response are set out below. I will then
confirm the findings of my review.

 

The initial request

 

In your email of 15 September 2019 you asked for the following
information:

 

Original FOI request

The Council makes the statements quoted below from the link:
[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

"-     Where the value of a payment received equals that of an
instalment/amount owing the payment will be credited to the relevant
matching amount regardless of what year that bill relates to.  This is in
accordance with the precedence sent in the case of R v Miskin Lower
Justices 1953.

-     Where no instructions are received from the customer and the amount
paid does not equal a specific instalment or outstanding bill the amount
can be allocated as the creditor (in this case the Council) deems fit. 
The authority for this is the case of Peter v Anderson 1814.  Peterborough
City Council will normally allocate payments to the oldest debt first in
these cases."

The council's above statements do not agree with the judgment in the case
of R. v Miskin Lower Justices (nor Peter v Anderson see below link to the
Miskin judgment):

[2]http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

The judgment clarifies the position in cases where a creditor has to make
a decision as to which account payment should be allocated when a debtor
has one account more burdensome for him than another and his payment is
unspecified

Clearly the council's statement, if it were to agree with the judgment,
would be.....

[[ Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment
should be allocated then the creditor must allocate the payment to the
account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. ]]

Q. Where did the council obtain the information regarding the
appropriation of payments case law which conflicts with the judgment in R.
v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]?

 

The council’s response to the initial request

 

Original FOI Response

 

The council responded by stating:

           

There are two pieces of case law that give precedence over different
points of law, one over the situation where a customer gives specific
instructions,  the other when they do not.   

 

Where the value of a payment received equals that of an instalment/amount
owing the payment will be credited to the relevant matching amount
regardless of what year that bill relates to.  This is in accordance with
the precedence sent in the case of R v Miskin Lower Justices 1953

 

Where no instructions are received from the customer and the amount paid
does not equal a specific instalment or outstanding bill, the amount can
be allocated as the creditor (in this case the Council) deems fit.  The
authority for this is the case of Peter v Anderson 1814.

 

Please note the Council does not hold any information in relation to your
request.   The Freedom of Information Act only covers information held in
recorded form, therefore local authorities are not required to create new
information or find the answer to a question from staff who may happen to
know it.  Staff dealing with appropriation of payments are trained in
their field of expertise and relevant case law material can be accessed as
it is publicly available.

 

Please note that we are more than happy to review a case if the individual
believes we have allocated their payment incorrectly. Should you require
any further information, the Council Tax Team can be contacted by email 
[3][email address] or by telephone 01733 452258. 

 

Subsequent request

 

In your email of 13 October 2019 you asked for the following information:

 

Supplementary Request

 

Thank you for your response.

 

The two summaries of the authority in respect of R v Miskin Lower Justices
1953 and Peter v Anderson 1814 are desperately inadequate.

 

Can you confirm that the information was obtained from the Institute of
Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV), i.e the Insight magazine (10 October
2002)?

 

[4]http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

 

The council’s response to this subsequent request

 

To which the council responded on 24 October with:-

 

Supplementary Response

The Freedom of Information Act only covers information held in recorded
form, therefore local authorities are not required to create new
information or find the answer to a question from staff who may happen to
know it.  Staff dealing with appropriation of payments are trained in
their field of expertise and relevant case law material can be accessed as
it is publicly available.

 

Please note that we are more than happy to review a case if the individual
believes we have allocated their payment incorrectly. Should you require
any further information, the Council Tax Team can be contacted by
email  [5][email address] or by telephone 01733
452258. 

 

Your request for an internal review

 

Your request for an internal review was on the following
criteria:           

 

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

 

I am writing to request an internal review of Peterborough City Council's
handling of my FOI request 'Council tax payment allocation in accordance
with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]'.

 

When a decision is made with potentially legal implications the council is
required to consult the Monitoring Officer and such procedures should be
formally recorded. A decision that requires setting the parameters of a
council tax payment processing system to automatically allocate
non-specific payments to the oldest account rather than to the in-year
account is one such decision.

 

If the proper legal process was followed when the decision was made then
there will be a record of it comprising a background outlining the
relevant legal requirements and risk assessment highlighting the degree to
which the council would be exposed to legal challenge if not complied
with. The following is an example of the kind of assessment that should
have been documented.

 

[6]https://democracy.npt.gov.uk/documents/s...

 

Internal review response

 

I am a senior lawyer in the Council's legal department and in that
capacity have been referred your above request.  In completing my review
of the Council's response to your request for information I have been
provided with access to the following:

 1. Original request for Information - 15.09.2019;
 2. Response to original request dated - 09.10.2019;
 3. Supplementary request dated - 13.10.2019
 4. Response to your Supplementary request dated -  24.10.2019

Having now considered the above correspondence and the case law contained
within it, I am obliged to confirm that I am in agreement with the
responses that have already been provided and I am not therefore in a
position to provide you with any further information.  In particular, the
Council has confirmed that it considers itself to be compliant with the
requisite industry standards in this area.  The issue of contention is one
of how the case law referred to has been considered/applied by the
Council.  The Council has explained its approach and that this has been
arrived at as a result of the expertise of the officers engaged within the
relevant service area.  It has also confirmed that there is not a specific
policy dealing with this particular issue and that it is not a requirement
of the Freedom of Information Act to produce one in order to satisfy your
request.  

Ultimately therefore this comes down to a difference of opinion in the way
in which the Council is interpreting and applying the case law which is
not something which this particular regime is designed to resolve.  You
have been provided with information as to how you can request a review if
you consider that your payments have been allocated incorrectly and there
is also a right of appeal via the Magistrates Court as a defence to a
liability order having been issued.  As a final point I note within your
request for a review that you have attached a decision notice in relation
to another Council's decision making in relation to Council Tax (but on a
different subject to that of your enquiry).  I have made enquiries and
Peterborough City Council does not hold any records of similar notices in
relation to the allocation of Council Tax payments.  

 

What happens now

 

I trust that this adequately answers your queries, and I now consider this
matter to be concluded.  However, if you are dissatisfied with this
decision you may request the Information Commissioner to investigate.  The
contact details are:-

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Telephone:

 

01625 545 700

 

[7]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Amy Brown
Senior Lawyer and Deputy Monitoring Officer

Peterborough City Council

FOI TEAM
Information Governance
Peterborough City Council
Sand Martin House
Bittern Way
Fletton Quays
Peterborough
PE2 8TY
Contact details:
Kevin Taylor, Access to Information Officer - 01733 452576
Tazeem Akhtar, Access to Information Officer - 01733 207138
Sadaf Abdullah, Access to Records Officer - 01733 864668
Tracey Wright, Information Manager - 01733 452533
Ben Stevenson, Data Protection Officer on 01733 452387 (non-working day
Wed)
Emma Doran, 
Business Support Officer - 01733 453571
Email: [8]f[9][email address
To find out more about Peterborough City Council please go
to [10]www.peterborough.gov.uk. 
Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Conditions apply to the confidentiality, copyright, legal liability and
use of this email.For full information relating to the transmission and
use of this email please visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer

References

Visible links
1. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...
2. http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...
5. mailto:[email address]
6. https://democracy.npt.gov.uk/documents/s...
7. http://www.ico.org.uk/
8. mailto:[email address]
9. mailto:[email address]
10. http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

Thank you for your response. I don't see any point in pursuing this but further to my email of 2 January 2020 my thoughts are that this issue should be put before the council's Monitoring Officer as it is his duty to ensure all decision making is lawful and the legal process described in that email should have been followed in arriving at the decision.

I understand that the software supplied to local authorities for the purpose of payment allocation has a parameter which can typically be set so that when a payment fails to match one of the rules it will, option 1, be applied to the in-year account, or option 2 , be applied to the oldest years account. Therefore, it is within the council's control to maximise the frequency with which non-specific payments would be correctly applied i.e. to maintain the in-year account as a priority.

Regarding the Miskin case law, Ipswich Council demonstrates its awareness of the case and other case law relevant to Council Tax liability in the following page exhibited presumably from a book entitled "Local Authority Revenues" https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

The relevant passage summarises a billing authority's obligations regarding the allocation of payments where a customer has several accounts payable to the council in the context of R v Miskin Lower Justices and associated case law. The Institute of the Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) has published similar in its 10 October 2002 Insight magazine https://tinyurl.com/y3hoyx9v

In respect of the council's statement; "where the value of a payment received equals that of an instalment...", there was no precedent set in the Miskin case based on payments matching the instalment amount of a particular year.

https://tinyurl.com/vk2pwhn (R v Miskin)

It is clear from the first paragraph of the judgment that the debtor (husband) did not once in any of the payments he made, make a payment matching an amount that he was required to under the terms of the maintenance/committal orders. The judge held that an appropriation was inferred from the circumstances to be the debt which it was most beneficial for the debtor to reduce (see quoted from the judgment).

"...the question whether the payments made by the husband should be appropriated to the original debt depended on the particular facts of the case. The husband would be likely to wish the payments to be utilized in discharge of the original debt..." (so that he would secure his release from the committal order).

As for the Council defending the practice of applying non-specified payment to the oldest year where a debt remains outstanding, the overwhelming evidence is that this does not accord with established case law.

Possibly the council has been influenced by the ruling in Devaynes v Noble 1816 merivale 529 (Clayton's Case). Clayton's Case is confined to cases where there is an unbroken account between the parties, or “one blended fund,” as in the case of a current account at a bank or between traders; it does not apply where there is no such account or fund, but merely distinct and separate debts. Snells Principles Of Equity's gives a definition in the document here: https://tinyurl.com/y3uzpd5n

A number of billing authorities wrongly rely on the Clayton Case ruling to justify allocating non-specific payment to the arrears because the effect of the rule is that in the absence of any express appropriation, each payment is impliedly appropriated to the earliest debt that is not statute-barred (payments are presumed to be appropriated to debts in the order in which the debts are incurred). They are of course misinformed because the rule does not apply to Council Tax as it consists of distinct insulated debts, between which a plain line of separation can be drawn (a bill is issued each year relating specifically to that year's liability).

Conveniently in the Clayton Case judgment the rules by which the application of indefinite payments are governed have been discussed. Clearly before any consideration is given as to the order in which the debts have arisen it must be asked, to which of the debts would the allocation be most beneficial to the debtor? (where the purpose for which a payment is made is unspecified it must be carried to that account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce). Only if it was of no more benefit to the debtor which of the accounts payment was applied to could it be said that allocating non-matching payments to any arrears would be in accordance with established case law.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devaynes_v... (Clayton's Case)

"In the absence, therefore, of any express declaration by either, the inquiry was, what application would be most beneficial to the debtor. The payment was, consequently, applied to the most burthensome debt...and, if the debts were equal, then to that which had been first contracted."

It is noteworthy that the Sri Lankan case, Ephraims v. Jansz (1895) 3 N.L.R. 142, similarly discussed the rules relating to the appropriation of payments in the context of the onerous nature of debt due on several accounts. The condition in the below quoted from the judgment could not be more relevant to the circumstances that are in issue with Council Tax liability:

https://www.lawnet.gov.lk/wp-content/upl... (Ephraims v. Jansz)

"If no such appropriation is made at the time of payment, the creditor must apply it to some claims which could be enforced at the time of payment and which at the moment is not in controversy."

Council Tax may be enforced (subject to payments being met) so a customer's in-year liability is not in controversy, providing his instalments are paid when due. An unspecified payment then, applying this principle, would have clearly been misappropriated if the council applied it to arrears so causing his in-year liability instalment to have not been met.

But regardless of whether the principle in the Sri Lankan case can be relied on, a customer having one liability more onerous for him than another must have his payment if it were unspecified carried to that account which it is most beneficial for him to reduce in line with other case authority mentioned.

The council's processing system applies payments in respect of the customer's implied intention but on a severely restricted basis (solely on the sum paid corresponding with an instalment amount). A payment matching a specific liability covers only one of several ways that the taxpayer's election may be implied. For example, case authority has consistently found that a debtor's intention may be indicated from the circumstances of the transaction (see Khandanpour v Chambers [2019] EWCA Civ 570 "Appropriation" from para 25). https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ...

A debtor's payment pattern could indicate a debtor's intention to appropriate payment to a particular debt, so if a pattern had emerged of a customer's payment being made and accepted as credited to a particular debt then it would be inferred from the nature of the transaction, even if not expressed at the time by the customer, that he intended to ascribe it to that account. A customer having one liability more onerous for him than another must have his payment if it were unspecified carried to that account which it is most beneficial for him to reduce.

A customer who would be caused the additional burden from recovery action being taken in respect of his in-year liability as a consequence of payment being applied to his arrears, would clearly have intended his payment to be appropriated to his in-year liability to avoid unnecessary additional costs etc. Evidence of an intent to appropriate, although falling short of being express, would be provided in those particular circumstances to be an election to pay specifically on the current year's liability (the inference from the circumstances of a transaction is just as valid an election to pay specifically on one of several accounts as if his election were expressed).

A customer who made payment in an amount sufficient to prevent his in-year liability falling in arrears would have good cause to bring legal proceedings against the council if it were to allocate his payment to a previous year's charge (thus unnecessarily burdening him further) merely because it did not match the instalment amount. In any event, I understand that a billing authority's duty, as a priority, is to maintain a customer's in-year account with payments received in respect of his liability, so logically the frequency with which payment would be correctly applied would be maximised (under automated conditions) if the parameters in the Council Tax processing system were set so that any unspecified payments were applied to the current year's charge.

P.S. Your Monitoring Officer might wish to look at this from the following perspective:

Let's say a Customer has an outstanding balance of £75.00 secured by a Magistrates' court Liability Order from a previous year's charge. This gives councils the power to use various enforcement methods to collect the debt and adds costs to the arrears. The standard costs rubber stamped by the court are in the sum of £65.50 so the total amount owing the council for that year's charge has increased to £140.50. The customer now has his in-year Council Tax obligation to meet as well as the amount secured by a court order from the previous year's charge.

The customer's in-year payments are set at £121.95 for the first instalment and £120.00 for the remaining nine (£1,201.95 in total). The customer makes his first payment of £122.00 but because the council's system applies payments that do not exactly match to the oldest debt, his in-year Council Tax obligations have been detected by the computer system to have not been met even though the payment was made in sufficient an amount to prevent his in-year liability falling in arrears. Although Council Tax liability consists of distinct insulated debts, between which a plain line of separation can be drawn, the benefit to the council is the same (£122.00) whether payment is applied to the in-year account or arrears so there is no legitimate advantage for the council nor justification in engineering a further burden for the customer in respect of his in-year liability. The previous year's debt has already been secured with a court order which has no time limit restricting its use.

It is therefore reasonable to suspect that the council allocates non-matching payments to the arrears thus imposing an additional £65.50 standard costs in respect of the in-year engineered non-payment for a non-legitimate reason. But there is no theoretical advantage to the council in respect of the costs it claims because the law only entitles it to claim the actual expenditure it incurs. It would therefore be self defeating if the council were to go about obtaining court orders merely to benefit from the application if its costs claim was genuine and not inflated. Another possible motive would be to punish the customer, but this is troublesome for the council because it is making use of the Magistrates' court unnecessarily and in so doing burdening the customer with a further £65.50 debt. This by definition is penalising the customer with imposed costs which is impermissible according to established case authority. It was held on judicial review of a licensing case R v Highgate Justices ex parte Petrou [1954] 1 ALL ER 406 that costs should not exceed the proper costs incurred and should not be a penalty.

In the more recent case it was held that the Magistrates were bound to decide the matter of costs in accordance with the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (the court needs to be satisfied that it was reasonable for the council to incur them) i.e. they would not reasonably have been incurred if it was not reasonable for the council to take steps to enforce payment (see paras 34 and 51 of R (Nicolson) v Tottenham Magistrates [2015] EWHC 1252) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

In the aforementioned scenario the council would have impermissibly obtained a court order to enforce the misappropriated £122.00 element of the liability TWICE. This is because the payment which was intended to be applied to the in-year liability was misapplied to the arrears.

Each year's liability is a distinct debt so if the council has a secured debt in respect of one year's charge it cannot use the same court order to enforce payment if a customer defaults in a subsequent year (another order must be obtained from the court). However, the court order securing £140.50 debt from a previous year was effectively used to collect the sum of £122.00 which was actually paid in respect of the in-year liability (the amount secured by the previous court order reduced to £18.50). The customer's in-year liability did not only remain unchanged as a result of the misapplied £122.00 payment it actually increased by £65.50 because of the court costs attributable to the council's further application to the Magistrates' court (the in-year liability increased to £1,267.45 which was secured by a fresh court order).

The upshot of all this is that the customer has outstanding liability relating to two separate debts, each independently subject to enforcement by the various oppressive methods enabled by the court order. The customer's overall indebtedness arising from the misappropriated payment has immediately increased by £65.50 because of unnecessary court costs. In engineering the default, the council has clearly been shown to have unlawfully used an order securing a previous year's debt to enforce payment from the in-year liability which was perversely the cause of the Council Tax processing system triggering recovery for the in-year liability (the same £122.00 amount has been subject to enforcement by two separate court orders).

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Peterborough City Council

Dear Mr Staffordson
I am writing further to your email dated 31 January 2020, in which you
requested that your thoughts regarding the matter concerning your Freedom
of Information request internal review 1909780457 be put before the
Council's Monitoring Officer. 
I can confirm that Fiona McMillan, Director of Law & Governance and
Monitoring Officer, Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County
Council,  together with Amy Brown, Senior Lawyer and Deputy Monitoring
Officer, Peterborough City Council have reviewed the content of your
email.  They have concluded there is no requirement for the
local authority to review this matter any further, as it now relates to a
matter of interpretation of case law, rather than a request for
information held by the local authority for the purpose of responding to
Freedom of Information requests. 
You have the right to raise any queries or concerns you have regarding the
information provided in response to your request for information.  You may
ask the Information Commissioner to investigate on your behalf; contact
details are shown below: 
 Information Commissioner’s Office
 Wycliffe House
 Water Lane
 Wilmslow
 Cheshire
 SK9 5AF

 Telephone: 01625 545 700
 www.ico.org.uk

 Yours sincerely
Tracey Wright
FOI TEAM
Information Governance
Peterborough City Council
Sand Martin House
Bittern Way
Fletton Quays
Peterborough
PE2 8TY
Contact details:
Kevin Taylor, Access to Information Officer - 01733 452576
Tazeem Akhtar, Access to Information Officer - 01733 207138
Sadaf Abdullah, Access to Records Officer - 01733 864668
Tracey Wright, Information Manager - 01733 452533
Ben Stevenson, Data Protection Officer on 01733 452387 (non-working day
Wed)
Emma Doran, 
Business Support Officer - 01733 453571
Email: [1]f[2][email address
To find out more about Peterborough City Council please go
to [3]www.peterborough.gov.uk. 
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Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

Thank you for your response. I did say that I would not be pursuing this and thought it would be clear that my comments were intended to be reviewed by the Monitoring Officer as part of her statutory duty (i.e. to inform the Council where she is of the opinion that any matter is likely to be illegal etc.), not from a Freedom of Information perspective.

In concluding that there is no requirement for the local authority to review this matter any further, I would like reassuring that this was only meant from a Freedom of Information perspective and the Monitoring Officer will in fact be considering it in accordance with her statutory duty pursuant to section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

Lastly, my comments have been referred to as relating to a matter of interpretation of case law by the Council. Is the Council maintaining that its interpretation of the relevant case law and how it has been applied might be representative of the Peter v Anderson and Miskin judgments?

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson