Manipulating Council Tax/NNDR court costs to act as deterrent

The request was successful.

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear Westminster City Council,

In reference to paragraph 40-55 of ANNEX A of the below document:

http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...

The council proposed increasing Business Rates (NNDR) court costs disproportionately to Council Tax court costs which involve an identical process, in order to act as a deterrent against late payment. Cabinet documents record this in relation to reviews in 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2013 and the amount specified regarding the additional amount of income it was forecasted that the changes would generate. This evidently artificially inflates court costs and is also claimed by the council to act as a deterrent/penalty which law does not permit. The law requires that the costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See paragraphs 35 and 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates [2015]) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

Please disclose all recorded details held by the Council relating to the relevant legal officer's involvement in overseeing each of the proposals of manipulating court costs for obtaining liability orders for the above stated purposes.

Yours faithfully,

kasturba Lalbhai

C Barnard, Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 3524436

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Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 3524436

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

 
Dear Sir/Madam
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your request for information that was received on 18 April
2017.
 
Request summary
Dear Westminster City Council,

In reference to paragraph 40-55 of ANNEX A of the below document:

http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...

The council proposed increasing Business Rates (NNDR) court costs
disproportionately to Council Tax court costs which involve an identical
process, in order to act as a deterrent against late payment. Cabinet
documents record this in relation to reviews in 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2013
and the amount specified regarding the additional amount of income it was
forecasted that the changes would generate. This evidently artificially
inflates court costs and is also claimed by the council to act as a
deterrent/penalty which law does not permit. The law requires that the
costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See
paragraphs 35 and 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham
Magistrates [2015])
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

Please disclose all recorded details held by the Council relating to the
relevant legal officer's involvement in overseeing each of the proposals
of manipulating court costs for obtaining liability orders for the above
stated purposes.

Yours faithfully,
 
We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
and we aim to send a response by 17 May 2017.
 
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 may restrict the release of some or
all of the information you have requested. We will carry out an assessment
and if any exemptions apply to some or all of the information then we
might not provide that information to you. We will inform you if this is
the case and advise you of your rights to request an internal review and
to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
 
We will also advise you if we cannot provide you with the information
requested for any other reason together with the reason(s) why and details
of how you may appeal (if appropriate).
 
Yours faithfully
 
 
Westminster City Council
Knowledge & Information Management Team
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [1][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [2]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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kasturba Lalbhai

Dear Westminster City Council,

I understand that by law the Council should have responded by 16 May 2017.

Has this been overlooked?

Yours faithfully,

kasturba Lalbhai

C Barnard, Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 3524436

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

Dear ‎Sir/Madam‏
 
Re. Freedom of Information Request 3524436
 
Thank you for your recent request to the Council. You asked to be provided
with the following information:
 
 
In reference to paragraph 40-55 of ANNEX A of the below document:

http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...

The council proposed increasing Business Rates (NNDR) court costs
disproportionately to Council Tax court costs which involve an identical
process, in order to act as a deterrent against late payment. Cabinet
documents record this in relation to reviews in 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2013
and the amount specified regarding the additional amount of income it was
forecasted that the changes would generate. This evidently artificially
inflates court costs and is also claimed by the council to act as a
deterrent/penalty which law does not permit. The law requires that the
costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See
paragraphs 35 and 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham
Magistrates [2015])
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

Please disclose all recorded details held by the Council relating to the
relevant legal officer's involvement in overseeing each of the proposals
of manipulating court costs for obtaining liability orders for the above
stated purposes. 
 
 
 
Response – Clarification required
 
Thank  you for your email of earlier today, querying when you would
receive a response. Under section 10 (1) a public authority must comply
with section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth
working day following the date of receipt. As a result the deadline for
your request is today, 17 May 2017.
 
However, the council requires further details from you in order to
identify and locate the required information.Therefore please can you
provide further clarification on what is intended by the following aspect
of your request in order that the council can focus its searches
accordingly:
 
"Please disclose all recorded details held by the Council relating to the
relevant legal officer's involvement in overseeing each of the proposals
of manipulating court costs for obtaining liability orders for the above
stated purposes."
 
 
Advice & Assistance
 
Your request will be placed on hold until you provide the clarifications
as set out in the section above, whereupon your request will be allocated
to the relevant department(s) for consideration. You will receive a
response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days (from date of
receipt of the clarification) as defined by Act.
 
For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions, which may
prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an
assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then it cannot be
released. You will be informed if any exemptions apply.
 
 
Advice on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is available from the
Information Commissioner and I provide his contact details here for your
reference:
 
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524510
[1]www.ico.gov.uk
  
Yours faithfully
 
 
Information Management Team
Westminster City Council
Information Services
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [2][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [3]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

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2. mailto:[Westminster City Council request email]
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kasturba Lalbhai

Dear C Barnard,

POINT 1
The relevant legal officer I assume would be either the council's Monitoring Officer or 151 Officer (or possibly both).

POINT 2 (The above stated purposes)
(a) Increasing Business Rates court costs disproportionately to Council Tax court costs.
(b) Increasing Business Rates court costs in order to act as a deterrent against late payment

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear C Barnard,

Please find as requested my clarification.

POINT 1
The relevant legal officer I assume would be either the council's Monitoring Officer or 151 Officer (or possibly both).

POINT 2 (The above stated purposes)
(a) Increasing Business Rates court costs disproportionately to Council Tax court costs.
(b) Increasing Business Rates court costs in order to act as a deterrent against late payment

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear C Barnard,

Westminster City Council should have responded by 22 June 2017 (the response is delayed).

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear C Barnard,

Westminster City Council should have responded by 22 June 2017 (the response is delayed).

Can this email please be acknowledged.

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear C Barnard,

Westminster City Council should have responded by 22 June 2017 (the response is delayed).

This is not the first reminder.

Can this email please be acknowledged.

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear Westminster City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Westminster City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Manipulating Council Tax/NNDR court costs to act as deterrent'.

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Westminster City Council should have responded by now. Please see following information:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/requ...

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

Yours faithfully,

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear C Barnard,

Would you please acknowledge my 31 July email requesting an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

Parmeen Sarda, Westminster City Council

1 Attachment

Information request
Our reference: 3524436

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

 
Dear Sir/Madam
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 18 May 2017.
 
Please find attached our response to your request.

If you are dissatisfied with your response please send your Internal
Review request to the email address below

[1][Westminster City Council request email]

 
Yours faithfully
 
 
Parmeen Sarda
Westminster City Council
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [email address]
Web: [2]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not reply to this email.

References

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kasturba Lalbhai left an annotation ()

(22 September 2017)

'I can confirm that the information requested is held by Westminster City Council. I have detailed below the information that is being released to you.

The reports quoted in Annex A of your FOI request were seen and approved by the then Head of the Council’s Legal services, who was also the Council’s Monitoring Officer. The Council officer retired several years ago.'

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