Help to write a letter to Council before going to court

Ibown a house in Harrow. There was one month that lapsed in council tax after my tenants left. Council for some reason tried to recover it from previous owner (who left in 2006). They were sending letters and court summons to their name. Obviously I didn't open it. Finally I decided to read it when a bunch piled up. So it appeared that 200 missing payment snowballed to 570 after court and reinforcement agency got involved. I had no choice but pay it.

Now I want to recover 50% of difference made up by council sloppy work (its my name on the title since 2006. Not my problem they couldnt be arsed to find it.

But before I go to the court I need to send them a letter and explain what happened and what I am about to do - there is no way really to do it other way - they don't have contact phones or emails. None

Can someone give an example of "without prejudice" letter? 


  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,987 Forumite
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    edited 10 July 2022 at 9:41AM
    So has it now been to court and was there there a CCJ? Or dud you pay before it got to that stage? 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • fatbelly
    fatbelly Posts: 20,699 Forumite
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    You don't want a without prejudice letter. You want a letter before action.

    But it sounds like you paid a debt that was in someone else's name, although rightly it was your debt. Plus you paid the enforcement costs against that person.

    If anyone should be asking for compensation it is the third party.
  • BobFreeman
    BobFreeman Posts: 17 Forumite
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    Idk what's CCJ but it went to court and then to enforcement agency weeks before I opened the letters.
  • BobFreeman
    BobFreeman Posts: 17 Forumite
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    fatbelly said:

    If anyone should be asking for compensation it is the third party.
    May be. But that's different story altogether. And no you are wrong it wasn't my debt. I am paying what council asked me. If they asked more I'd pay it too. However unresolved debt will have prevented the sale of the house and could probably affect other financial affairs for me. And I am not going to ask for compensation. I merely want to recover 50% of money that accrued because of the council error.
  • sourcrates
    sourcrates Posts: 29,017 Ambassador
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    Then you send a "Letter before action" to them.

    You state what your grievance is with them, how and why you think it occurred, and why you hold them responsible, include as much concise information as you can.

    You then tell them what you want from them, and by when (usually a response within 14 to 28 days).

    Otherwise legal action will be commenced.

    That`s it.
    I’m a Forum Ambassador and I support the Forum Team on the Debt free wannabe, Credit file and ratings, and Bankruptcy and living with it boards. If you need any help on these boards, do let me know. Please note that Ambassadors are not moderators. Any posts you spot in breach of the Forum Rules should be reported via the report button, or by emailing All views are my own and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.For free non-judgemental debt advice, contact either Stepchange, National Debtline, or CitizensAdviceBureaux.Link to SOA Calculator- The "provit letter" is here-
  • MalMonroe
    MalMonroe Posts: 5,783 Forumite
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    Your council shouldn't have made you pay. This is what Citizens Advice has to say, see under 'who has to pay council tax'.

    There's a number for Harrow Council - 020 8901 2610 - I'd try that and ask them if you can speak to someone about this matter before writing a letter. 
    Please note - taken from the Forum Rules and amended for my own personal use (with thanks) : It is up to you to investigate, check, double-check and check yet again before you make any decisions or take any action based on any information you glean from any of my posts. Although I do carry out careful research before posting and never intend to mislead or supply out-of-date or incorrect information, please do not rely 100% on what you are reading. Verify everything in order to protect yourself as you are responsible for any action you consequently take.
  • TripleH
    TripleH Posts: 3,019 Forumite
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    I second asking them to resolve it before taking court action. The council may well push for it to be thrown out because you didn't give them the opportunity to sort it beforehand.
    By doing so, it will help you plan out your arrangement in a logical step.
    Also ask a local Councillor to add in on your side. It's partly what they're there for. Especially if they are in Opposition.
    May you find your sister soon Helli.
    Sleep well.
  • Voyager2002
    Voyager2002 Posts: 15,342 Forumite
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    Note that court action for Council Tax takes place in a magistrate's court, not a county court. So there could not have been a CCJ.

    Anyway, I suggest a polite 'phone call. My experience as an absentee landlord (although not in Harrow) was that once I communicated with the relevant council tax people they were very helpful about writing off charges so long as I immediately paid the actual tax that was due. In this case, since they were sending bills to the wrong person, there is no reason for the OP to pay even fifty per cent of the charges added to the account.
  • fatbelly
    fatbelly Posts: 20,699 Forumite
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    The owner of an empty property is liable for council tax. It's number 5 on the link posted earlier
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