If you fail to pay an instalment by the date shown on the rate demand, a reminder will be issued. If payment is not made by the date shown on the reminder, your right to pay by instalments is lost and the full amount remaining for the financial year is due within a further period of seven days.
A maximum of two reminders will be served in any one financial year. (You will only receive a second reminder if you have complied with the terms of the first reminder and have again fallen behind with your payments).
The Council usually send a discretionary final notice after two reminders and before the issue of a summons, in order to give the taxpayers a further opportunity to pay and avoid costs and potential court action.
Following a reminder notice Customer Services staff may be able to make an arrangement to clear the arrears. As Direct Debit is the most efficient way to pay, we are usually prepared to spread any arrears over the remaining instalment period, provided a direct debit is set up with your bank and payments honoured.
If the full amount is still not paid a summons will be issued for the outstanding balance plus costs. This requires payment in full including costs before the hearing date shown on the summons. A copy of the notes sent with the summons will hopefully answer some of the more frequently asked questions.
If there is any balance outstanding, application is made on the hearing date at the Magistrates Court for a Liability Order with further costs if granted. The Liability Order allows various options to recover the debt such as Enforcement Agent action or insolvency/winding up orders.
Ultimately if Enforcement Agent action is unsuccessful action will commence for Committal to prison for a maximum of 90 days subject to an enquiry into means in the defendants presence at the Magistrates Court for Sole Traders or a winding up petition for Limited companies.
Any ratepayer experiencing genuine financial difficulties should contact the Councils Customer Services team - Telephone 01784 451499 at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss the possibility of spreading the outstanding liability over a period of months to help the situation. This is possible at most stages of recovery except when the Enforcement Agent holds the Liability Order when any proposed arrangement for payment should be discussed direct with them.
It should also be noted that the Council may continue recovery action and obtain a Liability Order in order to protect its position in the event of non payment. This would be made clear at the time of making the arrangement.
Below are some questions frequently asked by ratepayers on receipt of a summons.
A. According to the Council's records the amount outstanding remains unpaid despite previous reminders. Proceedings will be stopped only if the full amount showing (including costs) is paid to the Council before the Court hearing date. (If payment is made by cheque, you must allow time for the cheque to be cleared).
Do not send payments to the Magistrates' Court
A. In accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 1988, a reminder notice was served on you by the Council and you have not fully complied with its requirements. Bringing instalments up-to-date before the hearing will not cancel the summons and subsequent proceedings unless you have contacted the Council and they have formally agreed with you that you may do so.
A. No. It is not necessary for you to attend unless you wish to dispute liability. The Magistrates will issue a Liability Order unless a valid defence is submitted. The court does not have the power to make any payment arrangement with you at this stage. Unless the full amount is received before the Court hearing date the Council will proceed to apply for a Liability Order including costs. It may be possible to agree to reschedule your payments on the understanding that a Liability Order will be obtained by the Council in order to protect its position should you default, please contact us immediately if you wish to make a proposal for payment.
Please note that in the event of a Liability Order being issued, costs of at least £40 for expenses incurred will be applied for an added to the amount shown on the summons. Costs will be included in any agreement with you.