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Thread: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    From: Deputy Justices Clerk
    To: outlawlgo
    Sent: Monday, November 19, 2012 2:19 PM
    Subject: RE: Council Tax Liability Order - G45G04/MD/AW

    Dear Mr....

    In reply to the points made in your email I would ask you to note the following information.

    An application to state a case for the opinion of the High Court is governed by strict procedures. Unfortunately it is not possible to give notice and then file additional particulars later this is because once lodged the appeal triggers further procedures which are themselves governed by strict time limits.

    As for the fee I can say that it is possible to apply for remission in certain circumstances. A copy of the relevant application form and accompanying notes is available for collection from the court office or it can be downloaded at http://www.justice.gov.uk/forms/hmcts, the booklet number is EX160A (the form is in the booklet and is form EX160).

    I hope that this information assists.

    Regards

    Deputy Justices Clerk
    Grimsby Magistrates Court

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    From: outlawlgo
    Sent: 20 November 2012 10:20
    To: Deputy Justices Clerk
    Subject: Re: Council Tax Liability Order - G45G04/MD/AW

    Dear Mr.....

    Thank you for yesterday's email.

    I intend to deliver my completed application to the court in person so as to obtain a signature for its receipt, hopefully on Thursday 22nd November.

    However, I'm unsure whether the application will also need serving on the council as described as "other party" in 64.2.(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Rules 2012. I'm clearly appealing the decision of the court, but if this is required I will ensure the application is also served on the council.

    One other point in regards the Criminal Procedure Rules. I note the 2012 rules have been amended in regards Part 64 (to appeal to the High Court by case stated).

    With regards 64.1.(2) of previous editions, this no longer appears in the current 2012 Criminal Procedure Rules:

    (2) Where one of the questions on which the opinion of the High Court is sought is whether there was evidence on which the magistrates’ court could come to its decision, the particular finding of fact made by the magistrates’ court which it is claimed cannot be supported by the evidence before the magistrates’ court shall be specified in such application.
    Should this be disregarded even though apparently relevant to my case?


    Yours sincerely

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    From: outlawlgo
    To: Deputy Justices Clerk
    Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 9:51 AM
    Subject: Re: Council Tax Liability Order - G45G04/MD/AW

    Dear Mr....

    Could you please fill in details and return the attached application form in respect of the hearing. Bearing in mind I have no details of the liability order; no paperwork, no reference, no names etc.

    Yours sincerely

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    From: Deputy Justices Clerk
    To: outlawlgo
    Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:14 AM
    Subject: RE: Council Tax Liability Order - G45G04/MD/AW

    Dear Mr...

    Thank you for your email requesting assistance with your appeal. Unfortunately I am not able to do that because of the potential conflict of interest that may arise having regard to my professional role as adviser to the Magistrates whose decision you seek to challenge.

    Regards

    Deputy Justices Clerk
    Grimsby Magistrates Court

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    From: Deputy Justices Clerk
    To: outlawlgo
    Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 3:36 PM
    Subject: FW: Council Tax Liability Order - G45G04/MD/AW

    Hello Mr.....

    You do not need to be concerned that you cannot add a court case reference number as no individual numbers are allocated to applications of this kind. It will be sufficient for you to note that the matter brought by the Council was for a liability order noting the council reference number from your summons will then be sufficient. I hope this assists.

    Regards

    Deputy Justices Clerk
    Grimsby Magistrates Court

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    Both the Council and Magistrates' Court have been served the application for the Magistrates' Court to state a case for an appeal to the high court. This has been done within the given 21 day limit. The Magistrates Court, if in agreement, are required to prepare the first draft of the 'Stated Case' within a specified 21 days. Any representations must be made within 21 days of receipt of the draft.

    The application form is attached but basically contains the following:

    1) Decision under appeal.
    Give brief details of the decision about which you want to appeal to the High Court (including the date of that decision).

    The Magistrates sitting at the Grimsby Magistrates Court on the 2nd November 2012 granted a liability order, brought about by North East Lincolnshire Council. The matter concerned Council Tax and the liability order was made for a proportion (£60) of the Council’s £70 summons costs. The level of costs were disputed at the hearing as unreasonable.

    2) Question(s) for the High Court.
    What question(s) of law or jurisdiction do you want the court to state for the opinion of the High Court?

    The questions focus on two principle points of law with regards regulation 34 of the Council Tax regulations (SI 1992/613).

    Those points being, whether

    i) costs being disputed as unreasonable should have been awarded by the court without evidence from the council to support them.

    ii) costs specifically incurred by the council for obtaining the liability order should have been charged at the summons issuing stage.

    3) Grounds of appeal.
    Explain briefly why you think the decision against which you want to appeal was wrong, and how that decision depended on the question(s) specified in box 2 above.

    i) The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 provide at regulation 34 for a billing authority to recover its reasonably incurred costs in connection with liability order applications. The costs were disputed on the grounds that hundreds of thousands of pounds awarded would not be reasonable in respect of a single “bulk” liability order, especially considering the process is largely automated. Neither can costs be quantified in advance as they are split between however many defendants are summonsed to the court.

    The council’s representative offered no evidence to support its costs claim and stated that the council had never been required to do so. Consequently, the authority could not justify their incurred expenditure.

    General costs were offered verbally by the prosecuting council, including Council Tax collection and recovery, IT systems, employment of staff and HMCTS for the use of their facilities. It was argued costs were reasonable by commenting that they were lower than national averages for unitary authorities.

    It does not specify in SI 1992/613 that defendants should subsidy the Council tax department with imposed charges; only compensate reasonable costs incurred in connection with obtaining the liability order.

    There is no provision in the legislation for costs to provide a source of revenue, nor to act as a deterrent and incentivise payment (encourage behaviour). These are generally advantages highlighted in costs reviews (where documented).

    For example NELC’s April 2001 costs review:


    5. The decision to charge more in respect of Non-Domestic Rates is one which other local authorities are taking in increasing numbers. (There are two in this region currently, Bradford and Sheffield.) The reasoning behind this is that it is believed that some businesses deliberately delay payment of Rates as the penalty for late payment is so small in comparison to the amount that might be owed. The extra cost is seen as a way of encouraging prompt payment.

    6. If the proposal is accepted, then based on the number of Summonses issued and Liability Orders obtained in the current year, an extra £38,000 of additional cost income would be generated bringing the total to approximately £390,000.

    2002 increase in summons:


    The report identifies ways of funding additional resources to ensure the backlog of work that has arisen due to changes in the IT system are addressed.

    RECOMMENDATIONS:

    • that the Council Tax summons cost be increased from £10 to £15 with immediate effect.

    2011 budget and medium term financial plan:


    NELC detailed in its 2011 budget proposals it would raise a forecasted additional £752,000 over 4 years by increasing the summons cost.

    It proposed to "Increase summons cost" and was listed in their budget proposals under the heading "Income Generation" and forecasted additional revenue of £188,000 for each of the following 4 years.

    Income Generation

    1
    .52 In relation to proposed areas for charging to be introduced, 81 per cent favoured increased charges for summonses compared to 57 per cent who supported charging for replacement bins or garden waste collections. Only 15 per cent were not in favour of any charges being introduced.
    The decision to increase charges for the summons had not been brought about by additional costs incurred by the council. It was intended simply to plug a hole in its finances, reinforced by the proposals being put to a vote.


    ii)
    The regulation further provides for costs to be charged in proportion with the level of recovery work done, i.e., there’s a distinction made between the summons and liability order stage of recovery and consequently penalties should be incurred incrementally.

    If overall costs had been justified, the following suggests that imposing all these at the summons issuing stage would not be in accordance with regulation 34 to SI 1992/613.

    Before a review in April 2011, summons and liability order costs were 56% and 44% of total recovery costs respectively, which would make costs after the review (if justified) only £39 for the summons, not the £70 they're currently charging.

    To demonstrate this further; 22% of costs made up the summons charge in 2001. Based on the then costs ratio and today’s figures, the summons should be around £15, of the overall £70 costs.

    This highlights both charges have been arbitrarily split to advantage maximum costs income. It has been done progressively over a period of time until the present situation where all costs are loaded to the summons.

    An amendment (SI 2011/528 (W 73) which came into force on 1st April 2011 made provisions for £70 to be the maximum costs which could be charged for obtaining a Liability Order. It further specified that this was a total maximum, including those of instituting the application. This was apparently only in respect of Welsh authorities, but nevertheless amending the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, as are relevant to English councils.

    This maximum equals the amount NELC currently charge for issuing a summons. Statistics show, in certain circumstances, Welsh authorities issue annually a very small fraction of NELC’s total. This maximum charge would be reasonable only for those Welsh authorities issuing relatively low numbers of summonses, the logic being that costs are split between fewer defendants. This should be an indication that if English regulations were ever subject to the same amendment, NELC would have no reasonable grounds to charge up to the maximum permissible.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by outlawlgo; 25th November 2012 at 10:05:AM.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    You've got some cahoneys.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    And we are all behind you 100%

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    Some more evidence that council's are running the show:

    Eastleigh Borough Council's Review of Court Costs

    Proposals for Future Charges

    8. Previously any increases in costs charged by the Council needed the approval of the Clerk to the Magistrates Court to ensure that the costs being levied were reasonable.

    9. After contacting the Clerks to the Magistrates’ Court they have now confirmed that it is for the Council to decide on an appropriate level of fees in order to cover their costs and no approval is required from them.

    10. It is now proposed that the Council increases its charges and changes its method of charging to maximise income and thus avoid the cost of taking recovery action being passed onto the majority of other Council Tax payers who pay on time.

    11. It is therefore recommended that from 1st October 2010 the Council increases its fees to £95 at the summons stage of the proceedings with no additional fee being levied when the liability order is obtained.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    Anyone falling under the Administration(mal) of Portsmouth City Council, would seem to be able to challenge their authority on court costs in certain circumstances.

    They seem to be admitting inappropriate charges are imposed for the summons:

    Some of the elements included when establishing the costs are:- postage, printing charges, computer time, staff time and staff time involved in the follow up after summonses are issued.
    Looking at the relevant regulations, if the outstanding council tax is paid on receipt of the summons (before the hearing), then costs should be imposed only in respect of those incurred up to the payment.


    Application for liability order

    34.–(5) If, after a summons has been issued in accordance with paragraph (2) but before the application is heard, there is paid or tendered to the authority an amount equal to the aggregate of—

    (a) the sum specified in the summons as the sum outstanding or so much of it as remains outstanding (as the case may be); and

    (b) a sum of an amount equal to the costs reasonably incurred by the authority in connection with the application up to the time of the payment or tender,

    the authority shall accept the amount and the application shall not be proceeded with.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    The financial implications of appealing judicial decisions was put to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice, in front of a Commons Select Committee on the 28 November 2012.

    An extract of the uncorrected transcript more than hints that a system accessible only to those with money will be pushed even further from the reach of the man on the street.

    Justice, quite clearly then, is a privilege of those fortunate to have money to access it.


    Mr Llwyd: Perhaps I may ask a question as a not so young barrister from a minority background.

    Chair: The Bar is full of Welsh speakers, Mr Llwyd.

    Q40 Mr Llwyd: It is indeed-perhaps the majority. Who knows? May I ask you about the public engagement exercise with regard to possible changes in judicial review? You said in your written statement on the 19th of this month that judicial review is a critical means of holding the Executive to account. Many people believe, as I do, that it is the only means by which a citizen can challenge an administrative decision that has been made unreasonably. It is in many ways vital to a healthy democracy. Are the changes to the exercise of the function of judicial review going to be limited, for example, to planning or infrastructure cases, or is it across the board?

    Chris Grayling: It is across the board. Judicial review is a very important process. It is right and proper that people should be able to challenge the decisions of public bodies. It is also the case that judicial review is now increasingly used as a public relations exercise rather than a serious legal process, and I don’t think that is acceptable. Judicial review is also becoming a process that just goes on and on, so people keep on coming back. I think tighter rules should be built around when how the judicial review process can be used so that we do not deny people access to justice and the right to challenge but we make it much more difficult for the system to be used in a way that is not simply about challenging an incorrect decision. The early proposals we are bringing forward involve, first, a limit to the amount of time that people can wait before they start judicial review proceedings.

    Q41 Mr Llwyd: That already exists.

    Chris Grayling: We are proposing tighter time limits on that. Secondly, there will be a limit to oral appeals; thirdly, there will be an increased fee for accessing the judicial review system, but we also want to consult more widely about other changes we can make. On this, we think there is common agreement. There is frustration in the judiciary and among public bodies about how extensively it is used. When judicial review was introduced in the 1970s there were a few hundred cases a year; now there are thousands and thousands. I want to get judicial review back to what it should be, which is an opportunity for somebody with a genuine grievance where a decision has been wrongly taken by a public body to challenge it.

    Q42 Mr Llwyd: But in that scenario, for example, where there is a genuine challenge by an individual, would it not be unfortunate if you were to put up fees to a very high level and that individual found he or she could not afford to pay them?

    Chris Grayling: In all parts of our justice system-for example, the ability to access the small claims court-a fee is payable to make sure that the cases brought forward are not simply trivial. I don’t think it is inappropriate to do that with judicial review where potentially you are taking up significant amounts of judge and court time. I want judicial reviews to be taken in matters of genuine, legitimate interest. It is my view that often the judicial review process is used for PR purposes rather than genuine legal ones.
    Last edited by outlawlgo; 5th December 2012 at 20:02:PM.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    That the bench failed to consider the evidence is obvious, so why not make a complaint against the magistrates themselves?

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    Quote Originally Posted by enquirer View Post
    That the bench failed to consider the evidence is obvious, so why not make a complaint against the magistrates themselves?
    Will look into that. However, the Justices' Clerk stated that a liability order can only be challenged by an appeal to the High Court by way of a case stated on a point of law, or a judicial review (also in the High Court).

    From experience I discovered a complaint made to HMCTS will not consider a judicial decision. To add to that, the Parliamentary Ombudsman that has responsibility for complaints made about HMCTS complaint's procedure is equally useless.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    For complaints about magistrates personal conduct (as opposed to disputes about their decisions).

    See here: http://judicialcomplaints.judiciary....ints_judge.htm

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    North East Lincolnshire council has finally got round to posting its warning of bailiff action (again); it had already done this in a letter dated 5 November 2012 (Post #33 of this thread). It threatens to send round bailiffs if the alleged outstanding council tax debt (£60) is not paid within 14 days.

    The council has already had a reply to its first threat of bailiff action – letter dated 8 November 2012 (Post #37 of this thread)


    "....You go on and threaten to instruct bailiffs to visit me if I don’t pay the full amount within the next 14 days. I believe your enforcement contractor for this type of activity is Rossendales.

    I will attempt to save you some time and effort by informing you that this amount will not be paid, neither in part nor in full, ever, and if it is your decision to appoint NELC’s opportunist enforcement contractor I guarantee they will not obtain a single penny of the amount you are trying to thieve from me.

    I know with 100% certainty that this firm is crooked and have evidence that NELC have abetted the systematic fraud of its residents by using Rossendales.

    If there is any evidence that these criminals are on my case, I will, without hesitation be reporting both Rossendales and North East Lincolnshire council to Humberside Police’s Economic crime section."


    Interestingly the Clerk to the Justices has not corresponded further since it acknowledged my application for the Magistrates' court to state a case in an appeal to the High Court. The application and court's written acknowledgement was 22 November 2012 (exactly one month ago).



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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    North East Lincolnshire Council
    Civic Offices Knoll Street
    North East Lincolnshire
    DN35 8BR


    Ref: NG/CTR/12912

    22 December 2012


    Dear Debt Recovery Officer

    Re: Threat of Bailiff Action – Account 550xxxxxxx


    I’ve received a second letter this morning from NELC stating if I don’t pay the full amount (£60) of my Council Tax debt within the next 14 days, instructions will be passed to the council’s appointed bailiff company to recover the outstanding debt. The first letter threatening this was 5 November 2012.

    Please refer to my letter of 8 November 2012 sent to the council’s Income and Payments Manager. The same still stands if there is any evidence these criminals have visited my home.

    I am curious however, to know why NELC considers appointing Rossendales to my case will result in further costs for me (in excess of £150 as per your letter), or that your contractor would have the slightest chance of seizing and selling my possessions.

    I have been reliably informed there is no law which says you must deal with Rossendales. Considering that then, it would be entirely foolish if I allowed myself to be tricked into opening the door to one of their bailiffs. Ignoring them completely, would be the most sensible thing to do and ensure they didn’t get the chance to enter into a walking possession agreement or levy goods.

    If I did have outstanding debt, I would pay it directly to the council but as the money for which NELC is pursuing is the authority’s fraudulent demand for court costs, this is irrelevant. Of course, in theory I could pay the outstanding sum via the bailiff firm, but I believe in these circumstances, the contractor takes his fees as a priority to the debt owed to the council. Therefore the council would see none of it and the only one benefiting from the council’s recovery would be a private firm exploiting the taxpayer and government.


    Yours sincerely

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    An update:

    Something tells me HMCTS have got the hump. The following email was first sent two weeks ago to the Deputy Justices' Clerk, dealing with the appeal. That mail, and several other subsequent attempts to send it, all correspondingly returned a 'delivery failure' notice. An alternative HMCTS contact returned an automated 'out of Office' mail with notification to contact the Justices' Clerk. This was done twice with no acknowledgement whatsoever.

    From: outlawlgo
    Sent: 28 December 2012
    To: Deputy Justices Clerk
    Subject: Re: Council Tax Liability Order - G45G04/MD/AW


    Dear Mr .....

    Are you able to up-date me with any developments in regards my application for the Magistrates' court to state a case in an appeal to the High Court.

    My application was submitted on 22 November 2012, and although I've received acknowledgement for this there has been no other correspondence. Nothing for example informing me whether the court has agreed to proceed, nor a certification stating that the application has been refused.

    Yours sincerely

    What's more, the officer from the Audit Commission looking into fraud allegations made about North East Lincolnshire council has also stopped acknowledging correspondence.

    Would it be premature to suspect the respective government departments are closing ranks?
    Last edited by outlawlgo; 11th January 2013 at 20:02:PM.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    I think you are beginning to rattle a few cages. Be careful!

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    Hi

    There are so many people being taken to court for late instalment payment of Council Tax. I have started an e-petition to get the Government to look at this unfair practice. For example, my local authority, Basildon Council raised £402,705 just this financial year and it is not even over yet. Here is their response to the question I asked from Freedom of Information (FOI) regarding extra revenue raised from summonses:

    How much extra revenue has been raised as a result of summonses being issued for non-payment of Council Tax?
    How much extra revenue has been raised as a result of summonses for late payment of Council Tax?
    Costs of £45 are charged for each summons that is issued. However, so far this financial year we have withdrawn 996 cases prior to the court hearing. These 996 cases will not be charged the £45 costs. Therefore the net costs raised are £402,705. However, not all of those costs will be recovered.

    That is a huge amount of money, costing further financial hardship to many families.

    When asked:
    How many summonses have been issued this financial year for non-payment of council tax?
    How many summonses have been issued this financial year for late payment of council tax?
    The regulations do not distinguish between customers who have paid some of their Council Tax and those that have paid none. We have issued 9945 summonses in total since 1 April 2012.


    Please click on the link below and sign the e-petition to stop this unfair practice.
    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43663

    Many thanks and lets hope we can make a change.

    Erathaf

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    Quote Originally Posted by erathaf View Post
    ....Please click on the link below and sign the e-petition to stop this unfair practice.
    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43663

    Many thanks and lets hope we can make a change.

    Erathaf
    Done! The petition is signed.

    You've expressed some excellent points in the petition about this legalised extortion racket, especially in regards the wording of the Summons document.

    I totally agree, if you're paying you council tax it's inaccurate to state on the document 'Summons for Non-Payment of Council Tax', and like you say it should state ‘Summons for Late-Payment of instalments of Council Tax’.

    You see propaganda on an almost daily basis in local rags where journalists – let loose on Freedom of Information missions – obtain statistics which they then irresponsibly publish with no balanced reporting. You know the sort of thing – £Xmillion Council Tax goes uncollected which would otherwise fund caring for the elderly. Y-thousand liability orders obtained in the Magistrates' court to collect £Zthousand from Tax Dodgers. All this turns gullible readers, having no understanding of the figures, insane with rage.

    The odd thing is, the same authorities having £millions of uncollected debt, typically have successfully collected Council Tax rates of 99%, with most of the 1% uncollected, being attributable to people who have passed away or moved to another part of the world etc.

    What they always omit from these PR stunts is to tell you how much of the "so called" debt progressed through the courts, would actually have been paid regardless of recovery action.

    How much of the quoted non-payment is money owed purely as a consequence of instalment facilities being cancelled? Authorities are unfortunately permitted to do this because of flawed Council Tax legislation, but whichever way you look at it, this element of alleged outstanding money owed would not technically be outstanding debt. Councils just create a temporary debt by demanding the entire liability at once by cancelling instalments.

    Householders struggling to hit instalment dates will have been pushed into paying the entire council tax in one go and consequently forced into paying additional fees for court costs and bailiffs when they obviously struggled in the first place.

    In these cases, the majority of the money would have been paid by the end of the financial year despite court action and bailiff enforcement. Perhaps the reason they don't want to change things is because each council can make at least a couple of hundred thousand pounds a month in court costs.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    An update.

    No evidence yet that North East Lincolnshire council's appointed bailiff has been instructed to collect the £60 it thinks I owe.

    If you don't pay the full amount within 14 days of the date of this letter (19 December 2012) I will pass instructions to the Council's appointed bailiff company (Rossendales) to recover the outstanding debt. This means the bailiff will come to your home or business with a view to seizing and selling your possessions. If this happens you will have to pay costs, which may be more than £150.00 and will be added to your outstanding debt.
    A reply (January 14) from the Legal Team Manager at Grimsby Magistrates' court explained why the Deputy Justices' Clerk, dealing with my appeal, did not receive my emails:

    From: Legal Team Manager
    To: outlawlgo
    Sent: January 14, 2013
    Subject: Application re liability order

    Dear Mr ......,

    I have recently been passed your email regarding the above matter.

    Mr Xxxxx left the service at the end of last year and his email account will now have been closed down.

    I shall try to find out what is happening with your application and update you as soon as I can.

    Yours sincerely,

    Legal Team Manager
    Nothing heard so emailed yesterday for an update.

    From: outlawlgo
    To: Legal Team Manager
    Sent: January 25, 2013
    Subject: Re: Application re liability order

    Dear Mr ......

    Thank you for your 14 January 2013 email. Could you please up-date me with any further information you hold regarding my application. In addition, could you supply the names of two Magistrates sitting on the Bench (identifying the Chair) in respect of the council tax liability order hearing on 2nd November 2012.

    The information is required as I intend to submit two separate complaints; one to HMCTS in respect of how these liability order hearings are conducted and another to the local Advisory Committee, specifically in relation to the Magistrate chairing the hearing.

    Yours sincerely

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    A further correspondence was received through the post this morning in regards the appeal.

    HM Courts
    & Tribunals
    Service


    Justices' Clerk for Humber & South Yorkshire
    Doncaster Magistrates' Court
    PO Box 49, The Law Courts
    College Road
    DONCASTER DN1 3HT

    24 January 2013

    Dear Mr .......

    Re: North East Lincolnshire Council v Yourself
    Grimsby Magistrates' Court
    Application to State a Case


    Thank you for your email correspondence in connection with this matter.

    Mr Xxxx has now left the employment of HMCTS and your matter has been escalated to me. I shall be grateful if all future correspondence in this matter is forwarded to me at my office in Doncaster to avoid any unnecessary delays.

    Further to your application to state a case I have now discussed the matter with the Justices who adjudicated upon your case.

    Further to section 114 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 the Justices are not required to state a case until the applicant has entered into a recognizance to prosecute the appeal without delay and to submit to the judgment of the High Court.

    Accordingly, the Justices require you to enter into a recognizance in the sum of £500.00. If entered into, the recognizance would be subject to forfeiture if after delivery of the case stated the applicant failed to prosecute the appeal.

    Entering into a recognizance is in effect a promise to pay a sum of money (in your case £500.00) in the event you decide not to pursue your appeal in the High Court. When you enter into the recognizance (ie make the promise to pay) you are not required to pay any money, and provided you take your case to the High Court you will not be liable to pay £500.00. However, in the event you decide not to take your appeal to the High Court you may be required to pay some, or indeed all of the amount of the recognizance.

    Until the recognizance is entered into, the Justices will not state a case for the consideration of the High Court.

    The recognizance must be entered into before the magistrates' court at Grimsby and I would be grateful if you would make contact with my office at Doncaster in order to make the necessary arrangements for this to take place.
    Yours sincerely

    Justices' Clerk

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    Doncaster Magistrates Court
    The Law Courts
    College Road
    Doncaster
    DN1 3HT

    05 February 2013


    Dear Mrs Xxxx

    Re: Application to State a Case – Grimsby Magistrates’ Court

    Thank you for outlining the next steps and clarifying that the agreement for the justices to state a case is conditional on entering into recognizance. However, there are some points I would like clarifying, one being the terms of the recognizance detailed in your letter appear not strictly in accordance with section 114 of the MCA 1980.

    Your letter implies the case would be delivered without payment as the recognizance would be subject to forfeiture only upon failure to prosecute the appeal. This appears relevant only to a criminal matter as Section 114 draws a distinction for such a case. In non-criminal matters “a justices' clerk shall not be required to deliver the case to the applicant until the applicant has paid the fees payable for the case and for the recognizances to the designated officer for the court.”

    It is also conditioned under the same to pay any High Court costs which that Court may award, whilst in your letter it is unclear whether the recognizance would include this.

    On an application to state a case for the opinion of the High Court, the fees listed as payable under schedule 1 of the Magistrates’ Courts Fees Order are £500. It also states that where this is payable, no further fee is payable in respect of the preparation of a draft case by the justices’ clerk for taking recognizance.

    The justices – once deciding that a recognizance is necessary – must take the applicant's means into account in setting the amount. A completed EX160 form accompanied my application to the Magistrates’ court to state the case (22 November 2012). The supporting papers detailing my gross annual income provided evidence that this was substantially below the set level, and so qualified for full remission of the Magistrates’ court fee.

    It is therefore illogical that by completing form EX160 (effectively means tested) I qualified for full remission of the £500 Magistrates’ court fee, whilst the justices, after presumably taking my means into account, concluded that the recognizance should be £500. Setting such a fee in these circumstances could be seen as a denial of access to the Courts.

    It is noted that since the appeal was lodged, the court has taken two months to make contact on this issue. I was not notified that Mr Xxxxx had left the service and his email account closed down, until I’d prompted the court. I therefore have concerns that this application would have been overlooked completely if the failure to correspond had not been queried.

    I have further concerns about who would be landed the task of preparing the draft case as it was Mr Xxxxx – no longer in the employ of HMCTS – who was in attendance and advisor to the justices on the day of my hearing. It would also appear that an unusually high turn over, either through reorganisation or redundancies has left the Grimsby Magistrates’ court lacking any staff to fulfill the role of justices’ clerk.

    Although the current Criminal Procedure Rules are unclear whether a time limit applies, 64.2 of the 2011 rules specifies that a draft case shall be sent to all parties within 21 days after receipt of an application. That is of course unless the justices refuse to state a case under section 111(5) of the MCA 1980. That has not happened, as requiring recognizance conditioned to prosecute the appeal, does not constitute a refusal to state a case.

    Aside from the above I have to assume that – if not frivolous – the justices consider the application lacking in merit or have concerns that the appeal may not be pursued, and is why they have made their agreement to state a case conditional on entering into a recognizance.

    Regardless of whether justices agree to state the case, it still remains that the court issued a liability order where there was no evidence on which the Magistrates could have found their decision. Consequently North East Lincolnshire Council has threatened to recover, through their bailiffs, the amount specified on the order, despite there being no supporting evidence put before the magistrates.

    I will therefore make a suggestion that the court considers the possibility of reopening the case under the provision of Section 142 of the MCA 1980 to rectify the mistake and set aside the liability order. I’m aware Magistrates’ court’s powers are purely statutory and s.142 applies only to reopening criminal cases, however, I believe the authority to set aside liability orders has now been established as a common law principle developed in case law.

    There is also the possibility that the local authority apply under section 82 of the Local Government Act 2003 to have the liability order quashed. I will put this to the council and suggest they do this or apply for a lesser amount than that for which the original order was made. Perhaps the amount already paid, i.e., reasonable costs.

    Yours sincerely

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    From: outlawlgo
    Sent: 06 February 2013
    To: Local Taxation & Benefits Shared Service Manager
    Subject: Re: Application to State a Case - Grimsby Magistrates' Court


    Dear Ms ......

    Re: Section 82 of the Local Government Act 2003 – Application to quash liability order


    You will see from the attached that the justices dealing with my application to state a case to the High Court are exercising their rights under section 114 of the Magistrates' court Act 1980 and requiring I enter into recognizance in the sum of £500.

    The supporting papers accompanying my application to state a case have provided evidence that my gross annual income is substantially below the set level, and so qualified for full remission of the Magistrates’ court fee (£500). Consequently, setting an additional fee of £500 in these circumstances is effectively denying my access to the Courts.

    I have explained in the attached that I will be contacting the council to seek an alternative remedy, should the recent obstacles put in the way of the application, not be overcome.

    I'm therefore requesting that North East Lincolnshire council apply to the Magistrates court under section 82 of the Local Government Act 2003 to either quash the liability order for £60 obtained on the 2nd November 2012, or apply for a lesser amount than that for which the original order was made. Perhaps the £10 already paid, i.e., reasonable costs.

    Yours sincerely


    outlawlgo


    P.S. I have had no contact from your bailiffs Rossendales since the council threatened in a letter dated 19 December 2012 to instruct them within 14 days. Do I take it that NELC have not and will not be instructing its bailiff contractor to enforce the sum of £60 and the council consider the amount no longer owed.

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    Default Re: Council Tax Liability Order Applications Court Costs – Test Case

    So have you submitted form N244 and EX160 (fee remision) applying to the magistrates court to have the liability order set aside ?

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