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

The request was successful.

Dear Ashfield District Council,

The Council makes the statement quoted below from the document link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

"Non-specific payments, those that do not match a current year instalment or an instalment on an agreement, will post to oldest debt first."

The council's statement above does not agree with the judgment in the case of R. v Miskin Lower Justices (see below link to the 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

Dear Ashfield District Council,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Ashfield District Council should normally have responded promptly and by 14 October 2019.

Yours faithfully,

S Staffordson

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

 

Thank you for your email.  Please accept my apologies but we have no
record of receiving this request on the 16 September 2019.  I have
therefore logged your request today as having been received on the 16
September 2019 and therefore overdue for a reply.

 

I will get back to you as soon as I can.

 

Yours faithfully

 

Colin Sawers
Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services

Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NOTTINGHAM
NG17 8DA

Tel: (01623) 457332
Email: [email address]

Ashfield District Council -
https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
Mansfield District Council -
https://www.mansfield.gov.uk/data-protec...

 

From: S Staffordson <[FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 15 October 2019 08:11
To: foi <[Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information request - Council tax payment
allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear Ashfield District Council,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Ashfield District Council
should normally have responded promptly and by 14 October 2019.

Yours faithfully,

S Staffordson

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[1][FOI #603814 email]

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[2]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[3]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – Ref No: 003646

 

Thank you for your email of 16 September 2019 where you requested
information about Council Tax payment allocation.

 

The information you requested is:

 

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 applies payments in accordance with The Council Tax
(Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.  These can be found at
[1]https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992....

 

Most of the information that we provide in response to Freedom of
Information requests will be subject to copyright protection.  In most
cases the copyright will be owned by Ashfield District Council.  The
copyright in other information may be owned by another person or
organisation, and this will be indicated on the information itself.

 

You are free to use any information supplied for your own non-commercial
research or private study purposes.  The information may also be used for
any other purpose allowed by a limitation or exception in copyright law,
such as news reporting.  However, any other type of re-use, for example by
publishing the information in analogue or digital form, including on the
internet, will require the permission of the copyright owner.

 

For information where the copyright is owned by Ashfield District Council
details of the conditions on e-use can be found on our website at
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council....

 

We use your personal information such as name and address so that we can
comply with our legal obligations to respond to FOI requests.  For further
details about the use of information about you, please see the privacy
notice on our website at
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council....

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review.  Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to: Freedom of Information, Legal
Services, Ashfield District Council, Urban Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield,
NOTTINGHAM, NG17 8DA or [4][Ashfield District Council request email]. 

 

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Customer
Contact, Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
WILMSLOW, SK9 5AF or [5][email address].  You can also call 0303 123
1113 (local rate – calls to this number cost the same as calls to 01 or 02
numbers).

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

Colin Sawers
Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services

Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NOTTINGHAM
NG17 8DA

Tel: (01623) 457332
Email: [email address]

Ashfield District Council -
https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
Mansfield District Council -
https://www.mansfield.gov.uk/data-protec...

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear foi,

Thank you for your email which states that 'the Council applies payments in accordance with the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992'.

I may be mistaken, however, my understanding is that the regulations you refer to do not provide the necessary legislation to enable billing authorities to decide which year's liability an unspecified payment is allocated to when a taxpayer is indebted to the council on more than one year's account.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

Dear Ashfield District Council,

I would like my query addressing re, 16 October please.

Yours faithfully,

S Staffordson

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

Thank you for your email. Having checked your response dated the 16^th
October, the email contains a statement related to the response that was
provided to you and did not contain any additional information requests.
Should you wish to raise any further requests for information that is held
by the Council then it will be processed in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. If you wish for guidance on the regulations then the
Council recommends obtaining independent legal advice to further your
enquiries.

 

Yours sincerely.

 

Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services
Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NG17 8DA

T: 01623 457329/332

From: S Staffordson <[FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 11 December 2019 15:00
To: foi <[Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information request - Council tax payment
allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear Ashfield District Council,

I would like my query addressing re, 16 October please.

Yours faithfully,

S Staffordson

show quoted sections

Dear foi,

You did not deal with my request which asked where the council obtained the advice/authority that enabled it to determine that it would be appropriate for the council to allocate payment which did not match a current year instalment (or an agreed instalment) to the oldest debt first.

I am asking for the handling of this to be reviewed on that basis.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

I acknowledge your request for a review and have now passed it onto
another officer not involved in your original request to conduct an
internal review under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Council aims to respond as soon as possible and in any event, no later
than 20 working days.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services
Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NG17 8DA

T: 01623 457329/332

 

 

From: S Staffordson <[FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 12 December 2019 14:40
To: foi <[Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - Council tax payment
allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear foi,

You did not deal with my request which asked where the council obtained
the advice/authority that enabled it to determine that it would be
appropriate for the council to allocate payment which did not match a
current year instalment (or an agreed instalment) to the oldest debt
first.

I am asking for the handling of this to be reviewed on that basis.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

show quoted sections

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – Ref No: 003646

 

Thank you for your email of the 12 December 2019 where you requested an
internal review of our response to your Freedom of Information request
sent on the 16 October 2019.

 

Ashfield District Council has now conducted a review and the decision is
upheld for the following reason:

 

·         The response we provided is to the best of our knowledge where
we obtained the information regarding the appropriation of payments.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Customer
Contact, Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
WILMSLOW, SK9 5AF or [1][email address].  You can also call 0303 123
1113 (local rate – calls to this number cost the same as calls to 01 or 02
numbers).

 

We use your personal information such as name and address so that we can
comply with our legal obligations to respond to FOI requests.  For further
details about the use of information about you, please see the privacy
notice on our website at
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council....

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

Information Governance
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services
Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NG17 8DA

T: 01623 457329/332

 

From: foi
Sent: 12 December 2019 17:41
To: 'S Staffordson' <[FOI #603814 email]>
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - Council tax payment
allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

I acknowledge your request for a review and have now passed it onto
another officer not involved in your original request to conduct an
internal review under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Council aims to respond as soon as possible and in any event, no later
than 20 working days.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services
Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NG17 8DA

T: 01623 457329/332

 

 

From: S Staffordson <[3][FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 12 December 2019 14:40
To: foi <[4][Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - Council tax payment
allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear foi,

You did not deal with my request which asked where the council obtained
the advice/authority that enabled it to determine that it would be
appropriate for the council to allocate payment which did not match a
current year instalment (or an agreed instalment) to the oldest debt
first.

I am asking for the handling of this to be reviewed on that basis.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

show quoted sections

Dear Ashfield District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Ashfield District 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

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

 

As we have already conducted an internal review into your request you will
now need to move to the next stage and contact the Information
Commissioner if you remain unhappy with our response.

 

As per our previous response:

 

“If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Customer
Contact, Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
WILMSLOW, SK9 5AF or [1][email address].  You can also call 0303 123
1113 (local rate – calls to this number cost the same as calls to 01 or 02
numbers).”

 

Yours sincerely

 

Colin Sawers
Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services

Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NOTTINGHAM
NG17 8DA

Tel: (01623) 457332
Email: [email address]

Ashfield District Council -
https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
Mansfield District Council -
https://www.mansfield.gov.uk/data-protec...

 

From: S Staffordson <[FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 02 January 2020 15:37
To: foi <[Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: Re: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – Ref No: 003646

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear Ashfield District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Ashfield District 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.

[2]https://democracy.npt.gov.uk/documents/s... Tax - Recovery of
Cost

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

Yours faithfully,

S Staffordson

show quoted sections

Dear foi,

Thank you but you have apparently not taken into account that the original response did not actually address the request so a review of a response to that has never been asked for.

You quoted the Council Tax Regulations (SI 1992/613) which are entirely irrelevant to the information I was asking for.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear S Staffordson,

 

The Council has conducted a review of this request and considers the
matter closed. Should you wish to pursue this further, you have the right
to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.  The
Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Customer Contact,
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, WILMSLOW,
SK9 5AF or [1][email address].  You can also call 0303 123 1113 (local
rate – calls to this number cost the same as calls to 01 or 02 numbers).”

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Governance
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services
Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NG17 8DA

T: 01623 457329/332

From: S Staffordson <[FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 07 January 2020 08:16
To: foi <[Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – Ref No: 003646

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear foi,

Thank you but you have apparently not taken into account that the original
response did not actually address the request so a review of a response to
that has never been asked for.

You quoted the Council Tax Regulations (SI 1992/613) which are entirely
irrelevant to the information I was asking for.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

show quoted sections

Dear foi,

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, despite being decided in 1953, it is obviously relevant to Council Tax or there would unlikely be guidance tailored specifically for the benefit of Local Authorities. For example, 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; "payments, those that do not match...", 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.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

 

As previously notified we have carried out an internal review and from the
point of view of your Freedom of Information request we have no further
comment to make.  You are free to pursue a complaint with the ICO as
previously outlined.

 

Alternatively if you wish to make a complaint about Council services you
can do so here:

 

[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

 

Yours faithfully

 

Colin Sawers
Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services

Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NOTTINGHAM
NG17 8DA

Tel: (01623) 457332
Email: [email address]

Ashfield District Council -
https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
Mansfield District Council -
https://www.mansfield.gov.uk/data-protec...

 

003646 / 00142501

 

From: S Staffordson <[FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 31 January 2020 11:28
To: foi <[Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – Ref No: 003646

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear foi,

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, despite being decided in 1953, it is
obviously relevant to Council Tax or there would unlikely be guidance
tailored specifically for the benefit of Local Authorities. For example,
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"
[2]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
[3]https://tinyurl.com/y3hoyx9v

In respect of the council's statement; "payments, those that do not
match...", there was no precedent set in the Miskin case based on payments
matching the instalment amount of a particular year.

[4]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: [5]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.

[6]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:

[7]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).
[8]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.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

show quoted sections

Dear foi,

Thank you for your reply, however, it was indicated in my correspondence that I did not want to pursue this further but suggested the matter was put before the Monitoring Officer (because of the potential legal implications). I might as well take the opportunity to add the following which is another perspective from which the Monitoring Officer might want to look at it:

Let's say a Customer has an outstanding balance of £50.00 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 £80.00 so the total amount owing the council for that year's charge has increased to £130.00. 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 £80.00 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 £80.00 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 £130.00 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 £8.00). The customer's in-year liability did not only remain unchanged as a result of the misapplied £122.00 payment it actually increased by £80.00 because of the court costs attributable to the council's further application to the Magistrates' court (the in-year liability increased to £1,281.95 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 £80.00 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 in respect of the in-year liability (the same £122.00 amount has been subject to enforcement by two separate court orders).

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

noreply, Ashfield District Council

Thanks for your request

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale set out by the Freedom of Information Act
2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) – 20 working days –
or 30 days if made under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format then please
let us know.

In the meantime, please see the details below for some of the most
commonly requested information which is already publically available
through the Council’s website. Please also view the full details of our
public data using the following link:
[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Business Rates
[2]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...

Statement of Accounts and Audit Reports
[3]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

Planning Applications, Building Control and Land Charges
[4]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...

Councillors, including Meetings and Members’ Allowances
[5]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

For enquiries relating to highways, schools, social care, recycling
centres or public health then please refer your request to Nottinghamshire
County Council at [6][email address] or by writing to Freedom of
Information, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford,
Nottingham, NG2 7QP.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
2. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/business/bus...
3. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
4. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/pl...
5. https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
6. mailto:[email address]

foi, Ashfield District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

 

As previously notified we have carried out an internal review and from the
point of view of your Freedom of Information request we have no further
comment to make.  You are free to pursue a complaint with the ICO as
previously outlined.

 

Alternatively if you wish to make a complaint about Council services you
can do so here:

 

[1]https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...

 

Yours faithfully

 

Colin Sawers
Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services

Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
NOTTINGHAM
NG17 8DA

Tel: (01623) 457332
Email: [email address]

Ashfield District Council -
https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/your-council...
Mansfield District Council -
https://www.mansfield.gov.uk/data-protec...

 

003646 / 00144021

 

From: S Staffordson <[FOI #603814 email]>
Sent: 07 February 2020 10:40
To: foi <[Ashfield District Council request email]>
Subject: RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – Ref No: 003646

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear foi,

Thank you for your reply, however, it was indicated in my correspondence
that I did not want to pursue this further but suggested the matter was
put before the Monitoring Officer (because of the potential legal
implications). I might as well take the opportunity to add the following
which is another perspective from which the Monitoring Officer might want
to look at it:

Let's say a Customer has an outstanding balance of £50.00 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 £80.00 so the total amount owing the council
for that year's charge has increased to £130.00. 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 £80.00
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 £80.00 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)
[2]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
£130.00 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 £8.00). The
customer's in-year liability did not only remain unchanged as a result of
the misapplied £122.00 payment it actually increased by £80.00 because of
the court costs attributable to the council's further application to the
Magistrates' court (the in-year liability increased to £1,281.95 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 £80.00 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 in respect of the
in-year liability (the same £122.00 amount has been subject to enforcement
by two separate court orders).

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

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