Court summons for owing council £6

edited 23 January 2020 at 4:55PM in Reclaiming Mortgage Fees, Council Tax, etc
8 replies 506 views
pedropedroliopedropedrolio Forumite
11 Posts
Second Anniversary
Hi All,

A little advice if possible. Here's the story;

1. I Took over paying council tax feb 19. £105 a month.. It would appear I set up a Standing order instead of a direct debit. This is the key issue

2. Council tax went up April 19 to £111 a month. Thinking it was a direct debit, I left things as they were. I didn't cross reference whether the amount of 'the installment required corresponded with the amount that was going out. We have busy lives

3. Reminder came August 19 saying I owed them £24, which I paid immediately. They said I also needed to pay 'any installments due within 7 days', which again I assumed was taken care of. Renovating my old house for two years and the varying rates of council tax involved, I'm quite used to having multiple invoices from the council for tax. Sometimes for as little as £4.

4. Reminder came December 19 saying I owed them £24 again, which I paid. Again I thought the installment was taken care of. My partner is nearly nearly 4 months pregnant and I'm rebuilding the kitchen, so I'm waist deep in mud for most of the day. There's a lot of stuff going on.

5. Today I get a court summons and a £67 fine for being £6 behind on my payment. I also have to pay the remaining balance.

Now, I understand my part in this. I should have put two and two together and realised there was a deficit in the amount I was paying, but to take me to court over £6? Surely they could have given me a breakdown of how much I was actually paying them each month? Two letters four months apart and then a summons. Ouch. Also, I squared how much I owed them every time they reminded me.

My question is should I just take the fine, pay the full amount and move on, or should I complain like hell?

Any advice would be absorbed with thanks.

Pete.
Embrace irony, the ride will be smoother.

Replies

  • zx81zx81 Forumite
    33.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    You have busy lives.

    Pay it and move on.
  • comeandgocomeandgo Forumite
    4.4K Posts
    Ninth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭
    With our council you only get two chances of being late with payments then court. Seems it's the same with yours. Council tax is one bill you must keep on top of. I don't think you have any chance of appeal as their payment terms will be on the Internet.
  • CISCIS Forumite
    12.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    comeandgo wrote: »
    With our council you only get two chances of being late with payments then court. Seems it's the same with yours. Council tax is one bill you must keep on top of. I don't think you have any chance of appeal as their payment terms will be on the Internet.


    That's the statutory requirement, anything more is a bonus offered by few councils.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • edited 23 January 2020 at 5:33PM
    SocajamSocajam Forumite
    1.2K Posts
    1,000 Posts Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭
    edited 23 January 2020 at 5:33PM
    Having busy lives is no excuse - in fact that practically lame.
    Everyone knows that council tax increases every year - I have yet to see any council that decreases their taxes.
    You can or your wife can sign up to your council website with your property details and check how much is owed, paid and your balances.
    You can also receive emails instead of paper invoices which might make it easier.
    Everyone have busy lives, but there are some things that are extremely important that one should not leave to chance - and the council tax is one of them.
  • CISCIS Forumite
    12.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    My question is should I just take the fine, pay the full amount and move on, or should I complain like hell?
    They appear to have done nothing wrong, the error was on your part. They have followed the statutory process and given more time than they needed - they've let you go several months before issuing a reminder notice, they didn't have to do this and could have issued one as soon as payment was short.



    You paid the reminder but where then straight away short again on the next instalment. The next reminder was to give you a chance to pay and again you did so, but didn't pay the full amount of the instalment. This will lose the statutory right to instalments and default to full payment of the amount outstanding - this can occur even if you're 1p short.


    By the time the summons is issued you're not £6 short, you're the entire outstanding balance short as that had already become due before the summons was issued.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • CISCIS Forumite
    12.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    This is also one of the reasons that Direct Debits are far better than Standing Orders - every year, without fail, I used to see dozens of similar cases where a person had not changed their SO and were underpaying because of it.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • edited 23 January 2020 at 6:38PM
    pedropedroliopedropedrolio Forumite
    11 Posts
    Second Anniversary
    edited 23 January 2020 at 6:38PM
    Thanks everyone for all the advice, especially CIS for the 3 replies, no less!

    Just to confirm I THOUGHT I had a direct debit, which would have been just fine. I do realise the importance of paying council tax and that it's not a fixed amount.

    Thankfully it's just a fine and not my left hand. I would have complained more had that been the case, being left handed and all

    Taken on the chin and moved on.

    Ta again,

    Pete.
    Embrace irony, the ride will be smoother.
  • CISCIS Forumite
    12.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks everyone for all the advice, especially CIS for the 3 replies, no less!

    Just to confirm I THOUGHT I had a direct debit, which would have been just fine. I do realise the importance of paying council tax and that it's not a fixed amount.

    Thankfully it's just a fine and not my left hand. I would have complained more had that been the case, being left handed and all

    Taken on the chin and moved on.

    Ta again,

    Pete.


    Your not the first to fall in to that trap (ask any council tax department in May/June !)

    It's not a fine - that can only be imposed by the court (and, for council tax, only in certain very specific situations). The extra money is the council's costs.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
This discussion has been closed.
Latest News and Guides