Summons and Liability Order
If you do not pay on time then we will send you a summons and will give at least 14 days' notice of the date of the court hearing. The summons explains that the council intends to ask the Magistrates to grant a liability order for the amount of council tax outstanding plus costs.
If you are thinking about arguing against the liability order being granted by Magistrates you should thoroughly read all the documentation sent with the Summons. This will tell you what the council must prove to the court and what defences you have. If you still wish to argue against the order, please telephone the council without delay and explain your dispute/query so that we may be able to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. If unable to agree a resolution and you wish to proceed to court, it is essential that you immediately contact 01233 331111 to book a time to attend court. This must be done in advance of the hearing date as the court will only allow a few people in the court building at a time. Owing to limited time slots available they must be arranged in advance.
For the Magistrates to make a liability order the council must give evidence, including that:
- there is a current entry for the property in the Council Tax Banding List. It is not a valid defence to say you do not agree with your council tax band. You can appeal to the Valuation Office Agency www.gov.uk/challenge-council-tax-band.
- the council has advertised the council tax.
- The bill and reminder have been issued. It is not a defence to say that you did not receive a notice.
If you have paid the tax, but not the costs, the council can still ask for a liability order and use it to collect the costs
- Magistrates cannot consider:
- financial difficulties
- an appeal against your banding
- a reduction application
If payment of the TOTAL AMOUNT DUE as shown on the summons (which includes costs) is made before the hearing date, the application for a liability order will be stopped.
If you are having difficulty paying please contact us immediately. There are lots of agencies that offer advice on managing money, budgeting and debt management. It is important that people who need help seek it from reputable organisations who offer free, impartial and accurate advice, for example:-
- Your local Citizens Advice offices
- StepChange Debt Charity www.stepchange.org
- Ashford Borough Council also has two Welfare Intervention Officers whose job is to support people who need help with welfare reform changes.
- Worried about the dangers of loan sharks? Call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or text a report to 078600 22116 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk
A liability order gives the council the authority of the court to recover monies by the following methods:-
Attachment of earnings - If in employment, we can send two orders for deductions at any one time. If you are an employer you may receive a Council Tax Attachment of Earnings Order (CTAEO) for one of your employees. Further guidance for employers can be found in the Attachment Orders, A Guide for Employers Handbook [pdf] 730KB which is issued by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.
Deductions from benefit - We can apply for deductions from certain benefits.
We may use enforcement agents (formerly known as bailiffs) to recover the debt.
Stage 1 – This results in a fee of £75 for each instruction that is passed by the council to an Enforcement Agent
Stage 2 – A fee of £235 covers all work carried out but a further charge of 7.5% of any debt value over £1,500 will also be applied
Stage 3 – A fee of £110 plus 7.5% of any debt value over £1,500
The Enforcement Agents listed below are authorised to act on behalf of Ashford Borough Council. Always quote your account number when making contact with them. Once instructed, the Agent takes full responsibility for collecting the debt. If you do not pay the Enforcement Agent we may apply to the Court for a 90 day prison sentence and considerable costs incurred.
- Chandlers Ltd
- Newlyn Plc
- Stanford & Green Limited
- Marston Holdings (Rossendales Ltd)
If you owe more than £5,000 we can start bankruptcy proceedings. The consequences of bankruptcy are severe. Typically, a debt can increase by tens of thousands of pounds. You will be liable for the legal fees and disbursements incurred in this process. Your credit rating will be affected and your assets will be seized and you could lose your home
We may apply for a Charging Order and we can, in certain circumstances, force the sale of a property to recover monies owed. You will be liable for the substantial legal fees and disbursements incurred in this process.