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

Helen Barker made this Freedom of Information request to Tendring District Council

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

The request was successful.

Dear Tendring District 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 Tendring District 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

Corporate Information Manager, Tendring District Council

Dear H. Barker,

 

Thank you for your request for information regarding Council Tax Liability
Orders, which was received on 29/04/2020. I can confirm that your enquiry
is receiving attention.

 

In accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
you should receive a comprehensive reply to your request within 20 working
days from receipt of your enquiry.

 

The Council’s current activities and up to date changes to our service
delivery can be found on our website at
[1]https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

During the pandemic please be advised that our limited resources may have
been diverted away from compliance or information governance work in order
to deal with emerging high priority activities.  Therefore we thank you
for your understanding and assure you that we will continue to respond to
information requests as quickly as we are able.  The Information
Commissioners Office (ICO) has also published information on their website
[2]www.ico.org.uk.

 

In certain circumstances, a fee may be payable for determining, locating,
retrieving and extracting information and/or the cost for disbursements
such as photocopying and postage. If this applies, a Fees Notice will be
issued to you with details of any costs involved in advance and you will
be required to pay this before I can proceed to deal with your request.

 

Further information about your rights is also available from the
Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe
House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF Telephone: 0303 123 1113,
[3]www.ico.gov.uk.

 

 

 

Kind regards,

 

Charlene Haynes
On behalf of Corporate Information Manager

Corporate Services

Tendring District Council

 

Phone: 01255 686063
E-mail: [4][Tendring District Council request email] 

[5]www.tendringdc.gov.uk

Tendring District Council, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex
CO15 1SE

 

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Corporate Information Manager, Tendring District Council

Dear H. Barker,

 

Further to your request for information regarding Council Tax Liability
Orders, which was received on 29/04/2020, please see below the answers to
your enquiry.

 

Q1. Does Tendring District 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)

Answer - Yes.

 

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

Answer – Considerations:

·         Level of Debt outstanding

·         Allocating payments to correct year as identified (payments
received are generally checked on a daily basis and therefore not part of
our complaint process).

·         Registered Benefit claims

 

In addition to the above, appeal cases are normally suppressed (at
whatever stage of collection) from further action until outcome known. If
contacted prior to complaint being made further action can be withheld to
allow additional time for arrears to be cleared which is decided on a case
by case basis.

 

I hope this information is of assistance to you.

 

The Council’s current activities and up to date changes to our service
delivery can be found on our website at
[1]https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

During the pandemic please be advised that our limited resources may have
been diverted away from compliance or information governance work in order
to deal with emerging high priority activities.  Therefore we thank you
for your understanding and assure you that we will continue to respond to
information requests as quickly as we are able.  The Information
Commissioners Office (ICO) has also published information on their website
[2]www.ico.org.uk.

 

However if you feel that the Council has failed to deal with your request
for information correctly you can request that the matter is reviewed. 
Requests for internal reviews should be sent to
[3][email address] .  Alternatively, you can post a
request for an internal review to Mrs L Trembath, Corporate Services, Town
Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex CO15 1SE.  Further details of
this procedure can be obtained from all Council offices or from our
website ([4]www.tendringdc.gov.uk ).

 

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:

 

FOI Compliance Team (complaints), Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

Further information about your rights is also available from the
Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe
House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF Telephone: 0303 123 1113,
[5]www.ico.gov.uk .

 

If you have any other queries about this matter then please contact the
Corporate Information Manager at [6][email address]
.

 

 

Kind regards,

 

Charlene Haynes
On behalf of Corporate Information Manager

Corporate Services

Tendring District Council

 

Phone: 01255 686063
E-mail: [7][Tendring District Council request email] 

[8]www.tendringdc.gov.uk

Tendring District Council, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex
CO15 1SE

 

 

 

 

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Dear Corporate Information Manager,

Thank you for your reply. Will you please clarify what level of costs are added to the customer's account upon issue of the summons.

See here:

https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/council-ta...

Another link (it may be out of date) states that the amount added is £30.00

https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/you-have-r...

Yours sincerely,

Helen Barker

Dear Corporate Information Manager,

Thank you for your reply. Will you please clarify what level of costs are added to the customer's account upon issue of the summons.

See here:

https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/council-ta...

Another link (it may be out of date) states that the amount added is £30.00

https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/you-have-r...

Yours sincerely,

Helen Barker

Corporate Information Manager, Tendring District Council

Dear Helen,

Thank you for your email dated 24/06/2020. After further liaising with the Council Tax Service it can be confirmed that the level of costs that are added to the customer's account upon issue of the summons is £30.

I hope this information is helpful.

The Council’s current activities and up to date changes to our service delivery can be found on our website at https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/coronavirus

During the pandemic please be advised that our limited resources may have been diverted away from compliance or information governance work in order to deal with emerging high priority activities. Therefore we thank you for your understanding and assure you that we will continue to respond to information requests as quickly as we are able. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has also published information on their website www.ico.org.uk.

However if you feel that the Council has failed to deal with your request for information correctly you can request that the matter is reviewed. Requests for internal reviews should be sent to [email address] . Alternatively, you can post a request for an internal review to Mrs L Trembath, Corporate Services, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex CO15 1SE. Further details of this procedure can be obtained from all Council offices or from our website (www.tendringdc.gov.uk ).

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:

FOI Compliance Team (complaints), Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Further information about your rights is also available from the Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF Telephone: 0303 123 1113, www.ico.gov.uk .

If you have any other queries about this matter then please contact the Corporate Information Manager at [email address] .

Kind regards,

Charlene Haynes
On behalf of Corporate Information Manager
Corporate Services
Tendring District Council

Phone: 01255 686063
E-mail: [Tendring District Council request email]
www.tendringdc.gov.uk
Tendring District Council, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex CO15 1SE

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