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    • Aubrey Thicket
    • By Aubrey Thicket 10th Oct 17, 2:28 PM
    • 208Posts
    • 64Thanks
    Aubrey Thicket
    Can I take Council to Court for loss of my time etc?
    • #1
    • 10th Oct 17, 2:28 PM
    Can I take Council to Court for loss of my time etc? 10th Oct 17 at 2:28 PM
    Hi all

    I hope this is the correct forum. I'll try and make this as concise as possible:

    Our Local council have been sending us Council Tax bills for a property that we are renovating. Under their own rules we don't have to pay for the first 6 months if the house is in a poor state of repair. Anyhow, they keep sending us incorrect demands, wrong letters etc. You have 3 ways of responding to their letters and demands...
    By telephone, Email or Letter.

    Initially, with regard to the first few letters my wife used to ring the Council and she was regularly kept on hold for over 50 minutes with no joy. So, we decided to Email AND Write to the Council (recorded delivery) to put forward our case. The council wouldn't reply and then went straight to sending us a Court summons with costs. I was livid and wrote back to the council proving our case and giving proof that we had sent them letters which they ignored. I was more than prepared to go to Court today because it is clear as day we are in the right. We have the documents to prove it! Then, out of the Blue the Council rang my mobile last night and apologized for their mistakes and said they had cancelled the Court case for today and would cancel any charges. However, I can't now reverse the days holiday I took off from work and I can't get back all the time spent writing letters and Emails.

    I know some people are going to say I should leave it there and accept the Council's apology etc but I simply can't. The same council frightened my parents into this last year and they just paid up because they were scared to go to court (even though they had documentary evidence FROM THE COUNCIL ITSELF saying no debt was due). Telling friends and family has now enlightened me that this Council have a system of simply sending everybody a court summons and charges. Those that take the time to complain or disagree often get their court cases withdrawn and charges cancelled/refunded. Those that don't argue have to pay, regardless of whether you owe it or not. Some people I know have literally paid the summons costs of 65 because they can't get time off work. Others because they are frightened of court.

    I am not standing for it and was fully prepared to go to court today. I even had my Suit dry cleaned at weekend!

    So, previously, I wrote to the Council I informed them that I would be charging them 50 per hour for my time and also for my day off work. My letter said that if I successfully convinced the judge we were right I would make a counter claim from the council for my lost time. Sadly, now the Council have back tracked I won't get to make my counter claim.

    Therefore, like a Dog with a bone I am determined to harry and chase the council to pay my costs. Even if it takes me a million years I want to try and ensure they stop this bullying. If I get to court and lose then so be it. I'll pay up. If I win I'll be shouting it all over my local community.

    With this in mind, please can you guys advise me what my course of action should be...Small claims? Appoint a debt collection agency (is this viable?)

    Bear in mind I will now be chasing them to pay my invoice.

    Thanks all.
Page 2
    • CIS
    • By CIS 10th Oct 17, 5:01 PM
    • 10,524 Posts
    • 6,082 Thanks
    In respect of what the council have done the issuing of the summons was legal - until such time as the council tax charge is amended to show the discount then the last council tax demand notice that was issued is correct.

    If the council had proceeded with the summons then there was very little you could do - the magistrate would have no choice but to grant the liability order. They are legally unable to consider any disputes over council tax discounts, exemptions or liability when hearing a liability order application.

    The council cannot send a summons at will - there has to be the initial demand notice and at least one reminder first. The process is set out on the council tax (administration and enforcement) regs 1992. What is more likely is that they are simply a council who follow the legislation to the minimum time periods when issuing the notifications.

    If there has been delay or failure in the council's actions then the best way to address it is by the local government ombudsman. If it went to a small claims court the council's solicitors would probably apply for it be struck out and/or a summary judgement (that's if the court didn't strike out on their own volition)
    Last edited by CIS; 10-10-2017 at 6:29 PM.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
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