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Exercising discretion when applying to the court for a Council Tax Liability Order

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Dear Greenwich Borough Council,

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (the "Regulations") confer a duty on the billing authority to exercise discretion under regulation 34(1) when deciding whether to institute a complaint to the Magistrates' court to enforce payment.

Regulation 34(1) as amended by Regulation 15 of SI 1992/3008 states, with the relevant part emphasised, as follows:

"If an amount which has fallen due under paragraph (3) or (4) of regulation 23 (including those paragraphs as applied as mentioned in regulation 28A(2)) is wholly or partly unpaid, or (in a case where a final notice is required under regulation 33) the amount stated in the final notice is wholly or partly unpaid at the expiry of the period of 7 days beginning with the day on which the notice was issued, THE BILLING AUTHORITY MAY, in accordance with paragraph (2), apply to a magistrates' court for an order against the person by whom it is payable."

Regulation 34(2) states as follows:

"The application is to be instituted by making complaint to a justice of the peace, and requesting the issue of a summons directed to that person to appear before the court to show why he has not paid the sum which is outstanding."

The following are examples (but by no means exhaustive) of what are reasonable factors a recovery officer should take into account in exercising discretion to institute a complaint to the Magistrates court under paragraph (2) of regulation 34 of the Regulations:

1. the level of debt outstanding

2. any payments made subsequent to the full amount becoming due and time remaining of the financial year

3. are circumstances indicative of the debt being settled without resorting to enforcement

4. consider if enforcing the debt would unnecessarily subject the taxpayer to additional costs etc. and therefore amount to a penalty (see 3 above)

5. ensure monies have been prioritised to maintaining the in-year debt

6. allocate to the in-year any monies posted to arrears (or sufficient of it) that would if it had not been misallocated prevented the in-year liability also falling in arrears (see 5 above)

7. check for benefit claims or appeals already in the system and refrain from taking enforcement action where such genuine cases are unresolved

Q1. Does Greenwich Borough Council exercise discretion before proceeding under regulation 34(2) of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 to request a summons from a justice of the peace (it may be an automated process)

Q2. If yes to (1) what factors are taken into consideration

Yours faithfully,

Helen Barker

foi, Greenwich Borough Council

Dear Ms Barker

 

Freedom of Information request:  FOI-39087

 

Thank you for your request dated 23 April 2020

 

Your request is due to be answered by 22 May 2020, however, please note
that your request for information may be delayed due to urgent operational
responses to dealing with Covid-19 priorities.  We apologise for any
inconvenience this may cause, we do remain committed to responding to your
request and will respond as soon as we are able to do so. 

 

If you have any queries about this request, please contact me, quoting the
reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David White

Information & Systems Manager

Directorate of Communities and Environment

Royal Borough of Greenwich

 

' 020 8921 3943

*   The Woolwich Centre, Wellington Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6HQ

8 [1]www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

 

ü Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

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foi, Greenwich Borough Council

Dear Ms Barker

 

Freedom of Information request:  FOI-39087

 

Thank you for your request dated 23 April 2020

 

Our response is as follows:

 

Q1. Does Greenwich Borough Council exercise discretion before proceeding
under regulation 34(2) of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement)
Regulations 1992 to request a summons from a justice of the peace (it may
be an automated process)

Yes

Q2. If yes to (1) what factors are taken into consideration

o Recovery is placed on hold if time is requested to seek financial
advice or make an application for benefit support and a summons is not
issued if an enquiry has been made but is awaiting a response.
o Where we have signposted customers who are experiencing financial
difficulties to financial advice/support
o Where we are made aware of vulnerability in the household
o Where we are aware of recent unemployment
o Recent bereavements
o Disputes regarding liability
o Outstanding benefit claims
o Long term illness
o Disabilities
o Payments will be allocated to a current year debt if the payment
appears to obviously have been made for the current year.
o Council staff have discretion to waive court costs should
circumstances warrant it.
o Non-statutory arrangements will be entered into

 

 

If you have any queries about this correspondence, please contact me,
quoting the reference number above.

 

If you are not satisfied with our response to your request, you can ask
for an Internal Review.  Internal review requests must be submitted within
two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original
request.  If you wish to do this, please contact us in writing, setting
out why you are dissatisfied.

 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the Internal Review, you may
apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. 
Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the
Internal Review procedure provided by the Council. You can contact the ICO
by emailing [1][email address], or by post at Customer Contact,
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David White

Information & Systems Manager

Directorate of Communities and Environment

Royal Borough of Greenwich

 

*   The Woolwich Centre, Wellington Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6HQ

8 [2]www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

 

ü Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

From: foi
Sent: 24 April 2020 09:06
To: 'Helen Barker' <[FOI #660331 email]>
Cc: foi <[Greenwich Borough Council request email]>
Subject: FOI-39087: Freedom of Information request - Exercising discretion
when applying to the court for a Council Tax Liability Order

 

Dear Ms Barker

 

Freedom of Information request:  FOI-39087

 

Thank you for your request dated 23 April 2020

 

Your request is due to be answered by 22 May 2020, however, please note
that your request for information may be delayed due to urgent operational
responses to dealing with Covid-19 priorities.  We apologise for any
inconvenience this may cause, we do remain committed to responding to your
request and will respond as soon as we are able to do so. 

 

If you have any queries about this request, please contact me, quoting the
reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David White

Information & Systems Manager

Directorate of Communities and Environment

Royal Borough of Greenwich

 

' 020 8921 3943

*   The Woolwich Centre, Wellington Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6HQ

8 [3]www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

 

ü Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

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Dear foi,

Thank you for your response. On a related matter I would like it clarifying what the council's procedure is regarding recovery. For example, I would like it confirming the level of costs and at what stage of recovery they are applied. Also whether an arrangement is possible at final notice or after the summons stage and whether this avoids costs/proceeding to liability order. I have been unable to find any information on the council's website nor have I been able to find a publicly available debt recovery policy.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Barker

foi, Greenwich Borough Council

Dear Ms Barker

 

Freedom of Information request:  FOI-44661

 

Thank you for your request dated 19 October 2020

 

Your request is due to be answered by 16 November 2020, however, please
note that your request for information may be delayed due to urgent
operational responses to dealing with Covid-19 priorities.  We apologise
for any inconvenience this may cause, we do remain committed to responding
to your request and will respond as soon as we are able to do so. 

 

If you have any queries about this request, please contact me, quoting the
reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David White

Information & Systems Manager

Directorate of Communities and Environment

Royal Borough of Greenwich

 

*   The Woolwich Centre, Wellington Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6HQ

8 [1]www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

 

ü Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

show quoted sections

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Helen Barker please sign in and let everyone know.