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

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Dear Milton Keynes Council,

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

"The Council’s software for the administration of Council Tax has 26 rules built in that it will use to match a payment to the correct liability. If the payment does not match to any of those rules then it will by default be set against the oldest debt"

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

Freedom of Information Act, Milton Keynes Council

Dear Requestor

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST - INTERNAL REFERENCE 305174

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Freedom of Information Team
[email address]

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Freedom of Information Act, Milton Keynes Council

Dear Requestor

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST - INTERNAL REFERENCE 305174

Your request for information has now been considered and the information requested is below.

If you have a complaint about the handling of your request then please contact me within the next 40 working days and I’ll arrange for an internal review which will be considered as part of Stage 2 of the Council’s complaints procedure.

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Best Regards
Freedom of Information Team
[email address]

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Dear Freedom of Information Act,

Thank you for your reply but I have to disagree with the council’s reasons for holding the view that the creditor has the right to determine how payments are allocated where the debtor does not expressly elect the account.

Reason 1 quoted below:

'The Judgment suggests that where the debtor does not request how the payment should be applied, the creditor is bound to appropriate “the whole of such payment to that part of the total amount due which first accrued” i.e. the oldest debt.'

I understand that the authority in the Miskin case generally clarifies that where an amount obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere thus payment must be carried to that account (in the present case to avoid prison) which is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce.

The case concerned maintenance payments in R v Miskin, so the Judgment's reference to the allocation of monies to the amount first accruing specifically referred to legislation governing the collection of arrears under a maintenance order. For context see the following commons web-page (Maintenance Orders Bill)

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansa...

Reason 2 quoted below:

'There are further comments that it was likely in that case the debtor would have wanted those payments to be “utilized in discharge of the original debt” and that that decision would depend on the particular facts of the case.'

In the Judgment, Pearson J inferred an appropriation from the particular circumstances, including that the debtor “would be likely to wish these payments to be utilized in discharge of the original debt so that he would secure his release from the committal order”. The inference that the debtor would likely have wished his payments to be utilized in discharge of the original debt was evidently because it was the debt which it was most beneficial to him to reduce. It was merely his circumstances that meant discharging the earliest debt was most beneficial to him. Thus in another case (perhaps not concerning Maintenance Orders) if those circumstances meant that discharging the later debt was most beneficial, then by the same reasoning a judge would have inferred an appropriation on the basis that the debtor would have likely wished his payments to have discharged the more recent debt.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

Freedom of Information Act, Milton Keynes Council

Dear Requestor

Thank you for your below comments, which have been passed to the Revenues team.

Best Regards
Laura Ward
Corporate Information Officer
01908 254 217
Milton Keynes Council | Civic | 1 Saxon Gate East | Milton Keynes | MK9 3EJ
www.milton-keynes.gov.uk

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