Grant Thornton and High Court case: [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin)

The request was partially successful.

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Haringey Borough Council,

The following is contained in paragraph 43 of the judgment in Nicolson v Grant Thornton UK LLP [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin) (25 February 2016), see link to full judgment:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

" 6.11.1. The review panel found that other councils had obtained agreement to raise court costs recharged to non-payers by a significant level. This charge is intended to act as a deterrent to both late and non-payers and enables councils to fund improved recovery measures. The review panel concluded that the benefits and local taxation service could improve performance by ensuring that it agrees the highest possible level of court costs to be charged to non-payers. "

The above implies that if the council were to raise court costs recharged to late and non-payers of council tax by a significant level it would enable the council to fund improved recovery measures.

Q. I would like disclosing whatever information the council holds which would enable a person interested to determine what recovery measures were referred to regarding those improvements which the revenues services intended to fund.

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

FOI, Haringey Borough Council

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your information request. Please provide your full name so we can get this actioned for you.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Dingomal 
Feedback Review Officer

Haringey Council 
River Park House, 225 High Road, London, N22 8HQ

020 8489 1988
[email address]

www.haringey.gov.uk
twitter@haringeycouncil
facebook.com/haringeycouncil

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear FOI, N Gilliatt AKA fFaudwAtch UK Yours sincerely, fFaudwAtch UK

FOI, Haringey Borough Council

Dear Mr Gilliatt

 

Freedom of Information Request: Reference LBH/5443816

 

I acknowledge your request for information received on 29 June 2016.

 

This information request will be dealt with in accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 and we will send the response by 27 July 2016.

 

If you have any questions, please contact us on 020 8489 1988 or
[email address].

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Sirkku Pietikäinen

Information Governance Officer

 

Haringey Council

River Park House, 225 High Road, London N22 8HQ

 

T. 020 8489 2552

[1][email address]

 

[2]www.haringey.gov.uk

[3]twitter@haringeycouncil

[4]facebook.com/haringeycouncil

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

 

 

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Hili Sabrina, Haringey Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Gilliatt,

 

Freedom of Information Request: Reference LBH/5443816

 

Please see attached my response to your request received on 29 June 2016.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Miss S Hili

Team Leader

Shared Service Centre | Revenues

 

Haringey Council

Level 10, Alexandra House, 10 Station Road, London, N22 7TR

 

Tel. 020 8489 1000

 

[email address]

 

www.haringey.gov.uk

twitter@haringeycouncil

 

facebook.com/haringeycouncil

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

 

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

" My response is as follows:
The report to which you refer came from The Audit and Finance Scrutiny Panel and was from April 2004. The panel was decommissioned on 25 May 2011. Therefore, the information you have requested is not held. "

If this is held (below) there's no reason why the requested information won't be.

http://www.haringey.gov.uk/sites/haringe...

Audit and Finance Scrutiny Panel

"Review of Income Collection"

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Haringey Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Haringey Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Grant Thornton and High Court case: [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin)'.

I suggest the person to consult on this matter would be the Council's head of services for revenues. She specifically commented on the 2004 report by the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Panel in relation to ensuring that the maximum possible was charged for court costs in at least two witness statements, see 25 February 2016 judgment (paras 43-45)

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

Not only that, the report is held by Haringey and can still (26 July 2016) be downloaded from its website (Audit and Finance Scrutiny Panel - Review of Income Collection).

http://www.haringey.gov.uk/sites/haringe...

If this is held then there's no reason why the requested information won't be.

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

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

Pietikainen Sirkku, Haringey Borough Council

Dear Mr Gilliatt,

 

Internal Review regarding Freedom of Information request reference
 LBH/5443816

 

Thank you for email received on 27 July 2016.

 

Your request for an Internal Review has been logged with the reference
LBH/5526116. Please quote this reference number on any further
correspondence.

 

We will now review the response you have been sent to the above request
and I aim to let you know the outcome of our investigation by 24 August
2016. If I need longer, I will write to let you know the reason and when
you can expect a full reply.

 

If you have any questions, please let me know. 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sirkku Pietikäinen

Information Governance Officer

 

Haringey Council

River Park House, 225 High Road, London N22 8HQ

 

T. 020 8489 2552

[1][email address]

 

[2]www.haringey.gov.uk

[3]twitter@haringeycouncil

[4]facebook.com/haringeycouncil

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

 

 

 

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FOI, Haringey Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Gilliatt,

 

Please see attached, which I am sending on behalf of Ms Pietikainen.

 

Regards

 

Sue Dyos

Acting Feedback Manager

 

Haringey Council

River Park House, 225 High Road, London N22 8HQ

 

 

 

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Complaint to Information Commissioner's Office for Haringey Council's mishandling of this freedom of information request.

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire
SK9 5AF

29 August 2016

Dear Sir/Madam

RE: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF FOI REQUEST TO HARINGEY COUNCIL – REF NUMBER: LBH-5443816

I made a freedom of information request to Haringey Borough Council. The details can be found on the “what do they know” website at the following address:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/g...
“Grant Thornton and High Court case: [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin)”

FOI REQUEST– 28 JUNE 2016

The Council was asked the following:

“Dear Haringey Borough Council,

The following is contained in paragraph 43 of the judgment in Nicolson v Grant Thornton UK LLP [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin) (25 February 2016), see link to full judgment:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

" 6.11.1. The review panel found that other councils had obtained agreement to raise court costs recharged to non-payers by a significant level. This charge is intended to act as a deterrent to both late and non-payers and enables councils to fund improved recovery measures. The review panel concluded that the benefits and local taxation service could improve performance by ensuring that it agrees the highest possible level of court costs to be charged to non-payers. "

The above implies that if the council were to raise court costs recharged to late and non-payers of council tax by a significant level it would enable the council to fund improved recovery measures.

Q. I would like disclosing whatever information the council holds which would enable a person interested to determine what recovery measures were referred to regarding those improvements which the revenues services intended to fund.”

RESPONSE – 26 JULY 2016

The Council claimed that the information was not held as the report which was referred to came from The Audit and Finance Scrutiny Panel and was from April 2004 which was decommissioned on 25 May 2011.

REQUEST FOR INTERNAL REVIEW – 26 JULY 2016

It was suggested that the person to consult on the matter would be the Council's head of services for revenues. She specifically commented on the 2004 report by the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Panel in relation to ensuring that the maximum possible was charged for court costs in at least two witness statements, see 25 February 2016 judgment (paras 43-45)

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

43. In relation to "maximisation", the appellant relies in particular on a report produced in 2004 by the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Panel. The conclusions of that report included the following

"6.11.1. The review panel found that other councils had obtained agreement to raise court costs recharged to non-payers by a significant level. This charge is intended to act as a deterrent to both late and non-payers and enables councils to fund improved recovery measures. The review panel concluded that the benefits and local taxation service could improve performance by ensuring that it agrees the highest possible level of court costs to be charged to non-payers.

Recommendation B2: court costs.

That the benefits and taxation service ensure the maximum possible is charged for court costs and to review the charge at regular intervals subject to any guidance/legislation governing court costs."

44. In the first witness statement of Miss Grealish it is explained as follows:

"30. My view of recommendation B2 is that it confirms that court costs should be sought at a maximum level in respect of the cost of such action and this should be compliant with the Regulations in this respect. As a principle, I support this statement, and believe that the costs of such action should avoid being sought from council taxpayers who pay on time. The mention of court costs being a deterrent is one that is carried through to the present day with the warning that court costs be incurred."

45. In her second witness statement, she states that:

"I stand by my comments ... the prospect of incurring courts costs does act, as a matter of fact, as a deterrent."

To reinforce the assertion that the requested information would be held it was brought to the council’s attention that the report (Audit and Finance Scrutiny Panel - Review of Income Collection) could still be downloaded from Haringey’s website.

http://www.haringey.gov.uk/sites/haringe...

RESPONSE TO INTERNAL REVIEW – 22 AUGUST 2016

The Council upheld its initial response, i.e., that the information requested was not held, but clarified that the Audit Panel was actually decommissioned in 2004 rather than 2011. Scrutiny Officers had checked their files and confirmed that they did not hold any notes or background information from 2004 that would explain what the ’improved recovery measures’ referred in the report were.

CONTENTION

It is likely that the Council would favour withholding the information because if it was discovered that the costs were increased to fund ’improved recovery measures’ which were not provided for in law (most likely) it would have incriminated itself. It is believed therefore that the decommissioning of the Audit Panel was exploited purely as a diversionary tactic and the information actually held.

The report itself for instance, contained in pages 31 to 42, strongly implies what those (or some of those) ’improved recovery measures’ may have been. For example sending additional reminders, telephoning taxpayers when reminders sent, publicising the adverse impact non-payment has on the Council’s ability to provide services and an individual’s credit status, etc. etc.

Yours sincerely.......

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The case has now been allocated to the Lead Case Officer at the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate. (14 October 2016)

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