Council Tax and business rates recovery procedure policy

Summons and application for a liability order

A summons will be sent to each person named on the bill and summons costs will be incurred.

If the customer pays the amount of the summons (i.e. the full amount outstanding for the year) plus costs prior to the court hearing, the hearing will not proceed and we will not obtain a liability order.

If the customer does not pay the summons amount plus costs prior to the hearing, the hearing will proceed and we will ask the magistrates court to grant a liability order plus additional costs.

At any time after the summons has been issued we may agree to a repayment arrangement. If the payment arrangement is accepted and payments are received as agreed, no further recovery action will be taken. If a payment arrangement is not accepted, we will write to the customer with the reasons why.

Failure to pay in full or contact the council to make an arrangement will result in further recovery action being taken.

At the hearing we must show the magistrates proof that we have set and attempted to collect the council tax in accordance with the law. We must also confirm that the customer named on the summons is liable and that all or part of the debt remains unpaid. If the magistrates accept our evidence they will grant the liability order.

To defend an application for a Liability Order, the customer must offer a valid defence against it. Valid defences are:

  • we have not demanded council tax in accordance with the regulation
  • the amount has been paid in full with costs
  • the person named on the summons is not the liable person
  • we have already commenced bankruptcy or winding up proceedings

It is not a valid defence if the customer:

  • is unable to pay
  • has recently applied for council tax support
  • has applied to the Valuation Office Agency against their banding
  • has appealed their liability to the Valuation Tribunal

Where customers are liable on a joint and several basis, recovery and enforcement procedure may be applied to one or more of the joint taxpayers.

The individual circumstances of the customer will be considered to see if there are any special factors to be considered when determining what enforcement action is taken.