Lambeth Council's approach to applying Council Tax summons costs

The request was partially successful.

Dear Lambeth Borough Council,

In reference to Freedom of Information request ref: IR238282 (summons for non-payment of council tax) the document disclosed states that:

".... you, being the person liable for the council tax set out below, have not paid the sum shown" https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

The document indicates that the Summons Costs (presumably £122.00) are included in the "Total amount due now"

The High Court has ruled that the sum which is included as standard on Council Tax summonses in respect of costs is merely additional information to what is statutorily required on a summons under rule 98(2) of the Magistrates Court Rules. The amount stated is to inform the recipient of the amount of costs which will be claimed by the council if it proceeds to make the application at court for a liability order. The sum is not incurred until (and if) the court grants the costs which may be a different amount to that which is included on the summons. https://www.scribd.com/document/37563681...

Q1. Why does it say in the summons document that the summons costs (£122.00?) are included in the Total amount due when they are not incurred until (and if) the court grants the costs

Q2. Have the summons costs actually been applied to the customer's account at this stage

Yours faithfully,

Seb Tarantino

Gill Greer, Lambeth Borough Council

Information request
Our reference: IR240387

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Request details:  Summons documents and summons costs .
 
We acknowledge receipt of your request for information that was received
on16 May 2018.

We are dealing with your request and aim to respond within 20 working
days, by 14 June 2018.
Thank you for your interest in Lambeth Council.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 Gill Greer
Freedom of Information Team
London Borough of Lambeth
E-mail: [Lambeth Borough Council request email]
website: www.lambeth.gov.uk
 
Lambeth - the co-operative council
 

Sign up for email updates about Empire Windrush celebrations at:
[1]http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush

[2]Sign up for email updates about Empire Windrush celebrations at:
www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimers apply - full details at
[3]https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/email-disclai...

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush
2. http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush
3. https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/email-disclai...

centralteam, Lambeth Borough Council

Dear Mr Tarantino

 

Thank you for your request for information received on 16 May 2018. This
request is being handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 
 Please find below our response to the information you requested, which
was:

 

Dear Lambeth Borough Council,

 

In reference to Freedom of Information request ref: IR238282 (summons for
non-payment of council tax) the document disclosed states that:

 

".... you, being the person liable for the council tax set out below, have
not paid the sum shown"
[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

 

The document indicates that the Summons Costs (presumably £122.00) are
included in the "Total amount due now"

 

The High Court has ruled that the sum which is included as standard on
Council Tax summonses in respect of costs is merely additional information
to what is statutorily required on a summons under rule 98(2) of the
Magistrates Court Rules. The amount stated is to inform the recipient of
the amount of costs which will be claimed by the council if it proceeds to
make the application at court for a liability order. The sum is not
incurred until (and if) the court grants the costs which may be a
different amount to that which is included on the summons.
[2]https://www.scribd.com/document/37563681...

 

Q1. Why does it say in the summons document that the summons costs
(£122.00?) are included in the Total amount due when they are not incurred
until (and if) the court grants the costs

 

Q2. Have the summons costs actually been applied to the customer's account
at this stage

 

 

Our Response

 

Q1. Why does it say in the summons document that the summons costs
(£122.00?) are included in the Total amount due when they are not incurred
until (and if) the court grants the costs.

The requestor’s statement is factually incorrect as the summons costs have
been incurred prior to the actual hearing.   The summons costs incorporate
the number of final notices that proceed to enforcement that have not been
settled under Regulation 34 (5), but are going to court (Liability Order
hearing) under Regulation 34 (6) and the additional work that this
entails.

 

Q2. Have the summons costs actually been applied to the customer's account
at this stage.  Yes.

 

 

Right to Review

 

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your Freedom of Information
request has been dealt with you can request an internal review.  Tell us
why you are unhappy with our response within 40 working days, and it will
be looked at afresh. We will aim to provide you with our review response
within 20 working days.

 

By email: [3][Lambeth Borough Council request email] (Please quote the reference number above)
or by writing to:

 

Freedom of Information
London Borough of Lambeth

P.O. Box 734

Winchester

S023 5DG

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the review you have a
further right to appeal to the Information Commissioner, which regulates
the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.  The Commissioner
can be contacted at the following address:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Enquiry line: 0303 123 1113

 

Website: [4]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

Thank you for your interest in Lambeth Council.

 

Corporate Complaints Unit

London Borough of Lambeth

Finance and Resources Department

Team Tel:  020 7926 0547

Website: [5]www.lambeth.gov.uk

 

 

If you have received this in error please delete all content and notify
the sender immediately.

 

Copyright

 

Some of the information that we provide in response to Freedom of
Information Act 2000 requests will be subject to copyright protection. In
most cases the copyright will be owned by Lambeth Council.

 

Applications for permission to reproduce extracts in published works,
should be made to the Freedom of Information Co-ordinator, London Borough
of Lambeth, P.O. Box 734, Winchester, S023 5DG.  Email:
[6][Lambeth Borough Council request email]

 

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.

 

The copyright in other information may be owned by another person or
organisation, is indicated on the information itself.  For information
where the copyright is owned by another person or organisation you must
apply to the copyright owner to obtain their permission.

 

Direct Marketing

 

If an organisation intends to use personal names and addresses from what
has been supplied to you for direct marketing, the organisation needs to
be registered with the Information Commissioner to process Personal Data
for this purpose.

 

Organisations must also check that the individual (whom you wish to
contact for direct marketing purposes) is not registered with one of the
Preference Services to prevent Direct Marketing, if they are you must
adhere to this Preference. Follow this Link [https://ico.org.uk/] for more
information. 

 

Sign up for email updates about Empire Windrush celebrations at:
[7]http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush

[8]Sign up for email updates about Empire Windrush celebrations at:
www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimers apply - full details at
[9]https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/email-disclai...

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...
2. https://www.scribd.com/document/37563681...
3. mailto:[Lambeth Borough Council request email]
mailto:[Lambeth Borough Council request email]
4. https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/
5. http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/
6. mailto:[Lambeth Borough Council request email]
7. http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush
8. http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/empirewindrush
9. https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/email-disclai...

Dear centralteam,

Thank you for your response.

Firstly I would like to clarify the statement which the council has determined 'is factually incorrect'. The reference is to the Customer (costs incurred) rather than to any costs which the the Council claims to have incurred.

However, I have some comments regarding the reply which you may or may not want to note.

Regulation 34(5) of the Council Tax (Administration & Enforcement) Regulations 1992 makes provision for an out of court settlement (the application does not proceed if the sum of costs which the Billing Authority are to apply for at the Magistrates' court hearing are paid or tendered beforehand). As a matter of interest, if a court had the opportunity to adjudicate on the matter there would be every reason for it to find that the Statutory Instrument in respect of regulation 34(5) was ultra vires the enabling act (Local Government Finance Act 1992). Schedule 4 of the enabling act almost certainly does not make provision for regulation 34(5) to be enacted in its current form. This would explain why proceedings in Council Tax Liability Order cases can not properly follow due process.

However, even in the way it is enacted, regulation 34(5) does not permit any costs to be added to the customer's account at the summons issuing stage. Any amount of costs stated on the summons merely informs the debtor of the amount of costs that will be applied for at the hearing.

The process of issuing/authorising the summons (i.e. Magistrate etc. signing the complaint) merely authorises the council to serve the summons on the defendant. The application for the liability order is not made until and if the council does so on the designated date of the liability hearing at the Magistrates' court when another judicial decision is made (the summons issue is the initial and separate judicial decision) whether to grant a Liability Order and award costs, both in respect of the summons and potentially any additional costs (Liability Order costs).

The judge in the High Court case linked to in my request made a ruling that it was not unlawful to include the amount of costs that would be requested on the summons should the council proceed to make the application at court for a Liability Order. That is not the same as declaring it lawful to add the sum of costs to the customer's account when the summons is issued (before the court grants an order).

Yours sincerely,

Seb Tarantino

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org