Council Tax and Liability Orders Legality

Liability OrderLegality of Liability Orders

Sadly I am not a solicitor (or maybe that is a good thing?), but each time that I have to deal with a liability order, I really do have to question the true legality of it.

I recently assisted someone who had received a liability order from the Petty Sessional Area of South Cheshire in the County of Cheshire,  South Cheshire Magistrates Court (1187)

COMPLAINANT: Cheshire East Borough Council

This particular document is signed by Clerk to the Justices or Cheshire and Merseyside; the signature itself  is not readable and there is no printed name next to it. I also note that on this document there is no official court seal.

Liability Order Procedures

As far as I am aware court summonses issued by the courts are sent out with a response packs and information to help defendant, similar to that of the County Court Judgment or more commonly known as a CCJ.

So in this particular case the defendant lives in Surrey, and the actual case itself was being held in The Law Courts,  Civic Centre, Crewe. The defendant wanted to try and transfer the case to his local court. When I contacted the court the lady I spoke to informed me that the court has nothing to do with liability orders. If I had any questions  regarding the liability order, I should direct my question to the Council. I could also send a fax to the courts, as they said that someone from the Council  occasionally comes in to pick up any correspondence.

So with that in mind, a fax was sent to the County Court requesting that the case be transferred to another court on 12/12/13. To date no response has been received.

Ministry of Justice Court Document

I assume that all court documents came under the jurisdiction of the MoJ, so to that end  I wrote to the MoJ requesting information:

“Dear Ministry of Justice,

Am I correct in thinking that all court documents come under the
MoJ, in particular does “Summons for Non Payment of Council Tax
come under the control of MoJ?

Yours faithfully,”

MoJ Reply

“…..I am writing to advise you that your enquiry does not fall under the Freedom of Information regime.

“…..This will be best dealt with by the Ministerial Correspondence Unit (MCU) who will process your query as Official Correspondence. I have copied them into this e-mail but they can be contacted via the contact details below, should you wish to follow up this e-mail.:

Ministerial Correspondence Unit, Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ, United Kingdom DX 152380 Westminster 8

Telephone: +44 (0)20 3334 3555

Fax: +44 (0)870 761 7753″

HMCTS Customer Service Reply

“Thank you for your email to the Ministry of Justice. Your email was passed to HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) – Complaints, Correspondence and Litigation Team (CCLT) to review. It may assist if I explain that the CCLT is responsible for dealing with complaints in relation to any maladministration, that is staff error, that has occurred in the courts and tribunals in England and Wales.

With regards to your request below, I can confirm that court documents are the responsibility of HMCTS which is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). A summons for Council Tax will be issued by the court but is produced and posted out by the relevant Council.

Yours sincerely”

So once again I have to question the legality of a Summons for Council Tax. It is now my attention to contact the council regarding procedures!

There must be solicitors out there that can advise on the legality of this?

 


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Comments

Council Tax and Liability Orders Legality — 3 Comments

  1. Where does it state in the Local Government Finance Act that a council can issue a court form? It does not. Also, why are councils, in particular Rochdale Council, charging £104 and uploading the summons and liability order costs onto the first court summons costs. If the court get £3 per summons, who is getting the rest? It’s a huge profit making exercise for the council on the very poorest in society. It’s absolute human cruelty and makes me ashamed to be part of the human race. I myself owe about £400 in court costs alone. It’s sickening, especially when it’s a sham in the courts too (council’s hire a room). They do not make fighting the system particularly easy, but I guess these people are just ‘doing their job’. Where is the heart in such a job?

  2. Hello Audacious Angel, many thanks for visiting my blog.

    It would seem that as the law stands, liability orders are illegal. I knew of someone who was issued with a liability order for a rental property he had up north. He tried to get it transferred to his local court to question it, but it would seem there is no court provision to do this either. So the bulk hearing went ahead anyway and now the Bailiffs are chasing him!

    When money is involved, the courts do tend to favour the creditor.

  3. Summons are issued by the council under agreement with the magistrates, however I would like to know under what authority a court can delegate such a task, as a council has no judicial function. A council simply states that the court agrees that they can issue their own summons and then removes themselves from all liability.

    There is no official court seal because the liability order is a council issued liability order authorised by a signature from a magistrate. The hearing being an administrative process, whereby the council hires the local magistrates court for this process. No CPR apply in these hearings. If you wish to appeal against the liability order you need to appeal to the valuation tribunal. Try and obtain a copy of a liability order and you will not be able to obtain one, also the magistrates have no record of issuing any liability orders, the whole process is managed by the council.

    The costs are unlawful exposed in the High Court by Rev Paul Nicolson. Under the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 the council should only claim “a sum of an amount equal to the costs reasonably incurred by the authority” however in reality they agree a round sum figure with the magistrates court way in excess of their legal entitlement, and make millions from the most vulnerable in society. If you wish to appeal against these costs you need to appeal to the High court via a judicial review.

    Liability orders are legal because the statutory instrument states it is however they are unlawful as they conflict with other laws including the Human Rights Act.

    If you want to go deep into the rabbit hole also investigate council attachment of earnings orders and especially council commital to prison procedures.

    There are around 100 people each year who are unlawfully sent to prison on the basis of these liability orders.

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