Magistrates Court Clerk - Independent? Or an LA agent?

The request was refused by Ministry of Justice.

Dear Ministry of Justice,

It appears to be common practice for Billing Authorities to include thousands of Council Tax accounts on a single "complaint" to Magistrates Courts in persuit of a Liability Order.

1. Is there any law or rule limiting the number of complaints that can be dealt with in any one hearing?

2. What is the highest number of accounts listed on any single "complaint"? What was the total costs awarded and what was the total court fee paid on that complaint (before any refund)? What was the date of the hearing? What was the billing authority?

3. When a person attends Court to show the Magistrates they are not liable for the Council Tax demanded and the account associated with that person is just one of thousands of accounts on a list in front of the Magistrates, can magistrates make a liability order against the other several thousand accounts if they are satisfied the one Person before them is not liable?

4. Considering that the Court receives thousands of pounds in Court fees in relation to each "complaint", and considering that the Court Clerk, despite being a civil servant, is supposed to be independent from Local Government, and despite the fact there are identical "complaints" made by every billing authority every month, is the Court Clerk required to know relevant Law relating to Council Tax eg. Chargeable Properties, billing periods, billing procedures, fair hearings, evidence and other relevant matters so they can correctly advise Magistrates?

5. When Court Clerks advise Magistrates they "have no power to go behind the list" are they referring to the list of thousands of accounts included in the same "complaint" asking for a liability Order? Or the potentialy erroneous listing that the Billing Authority told the VOA to create?

6. What do Court Clerks advise Magistrates when deciding whether a person is Liable for Council Tax ie which of the following is a matter of fact & Law (within the jurisdiction of the Magistrates) and what is a matter of VOA decision making (not within the jurisdiction of the Magistrates):-
A. Whether the property is a business premises or a domestic dwelling?
B. Whether the Person is a liable person or the property is a chargeable property in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 1992?
C. Whether the Property is a completed apartment or a building site/unfinished project during the relevant billing period?
D. What is required for the hearing to be fair eg evidence, hearing representations, swearing an oath or statement of truth ?
E. Whether a credit from another account in the name of the sole Director of a company be considered as payment for the debt in respect of the Company where the Director has specifically asked for the credit to be used to prevent enforcement action prior to the complaint being brought to the Magistrates.
F. Whether the debt demanded is the result of Council Maladministration?

7. What evidence, Oaths, statements are required to be given by the billing authority when presenting their complaint to the Court for the first time?

8. In the last 10 years what is the total number of account numbers that have been subject to Billing authority "Complaints".

9. In the past 10 years, how many times has a person satisfied the Magistrates that they are not liable for the tax demanded? How many Liability Orders have been refused by the Magistrates?

Yours faithfully,

Lady Fleming

legal.operations, Ministry of Justice

1 Attachment

Dear Lady Fleming,

Please see attached a response to your overlapping enquiries to the
Ministry of Justice,  Judicial Office and HM Courts Service relating to
council tax enforcements.

This response covers the following requests:

[email address];

[email address];

[email address];

[email address];

[1][FOI #549825 email]

[email address]

Cofion, Regards,

Siân Jones

Head of Legal and Professional Services | Legal Operations Team

Secretary, Justices’ Clerks’ Society

Courts and Tribunals Development Directorate | HMCTS | Law Courts, Bridge
Street | Peterborough, PE1 1AD

Web:  [2]

[3]Here is how HMCTS uses personal data about you.

[4]Dyma sut mae GLlTEM yn defnyddio data personol amdanoch chi.


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Kirsty Eccles (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

You have them running scared.