What is a Liability Order?
A liability order gives us more power for collecting the debt owed. The liability order will be issued if the amount shown on the summons has not been paid in full by the court hearing. The magistrates can also award costs against you, which you will have to pay. The costs are currently £110.00 (£60.00 for the issue of the summons and £50.00 for the granting of the liability order).
Is a Liability Order always granted/awarded?
A liability order will normally be granted except where there is a valid defence against the issue of the liability order. The valid defences are:
- The Council Tax has not been properly set
- The property is not entered in the Valuation List
- The total amount of the summons has been paid in full – and a receipt is available and shown
- Bills and reminders have not been sent (this is not the same as not being received)
- You're exempt from paying Council Tax
- You're not the person who is liable to pay the Council Tax that you have been summonsed for (this does not include minor mistakes like spelling of name or title)
- Bankruptcy, winding up proceedings have commenced or an Administration Order/Debt Relief Order has been made and the Council Tax debt is included
- The application for a liability order was made more than six years after the first demand was issued
Should I contact you if I have a valid defence?
To save the courts time, if any of the above apply to you (or you think they may apply), contact us before the court hearing as it might be possible to resolve your query and therefore you will not have to attend court.
Please note the following are not valid defences against the issue of a liability order:
- You have money problems and can’t afford to pay or you think Council Tax is unfair
- You have applied for Council Tax support, a discount or an exemption and you have not heard anything yet
- You think the Council Tax band for the property is wrong you have appealed to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA)
- You should still pay the amounts shown on the notices sent to you
The Magistrates will not take your financial situation into account when making their decision, or hear an argument unless it is a valid defence. We will take your financial situation into account when discussing how you are going to repay this debt. This is why it is important to contact us immediately when you get the summons.
What happens when a liability Order is granted/awarded?
A Liability Order gives us more powers to recover money owed, and lets us take further action, including;
- Requesting personal financial information which may include carrying out a search with a credit agency for information
- Instructing enforcement agents (previously named bailiffs) to visit your home to recover the debt - they will send you a Notice of Enforcement which will include a financial statement form, asking for full payment or an acceptable payment arrangement. At this point you will incur fees of £75.00. However, if a personal visit to your home is required in an effort to get payment then additional fees of £235.00 will be incurred
- Contacting your employer to have money taken directly from your earnings
- Contacting the DWP to have money taken directly from your benefits. This is not possible with benefits such as Incapacity Benefit, but can be deducted from ESA, JSA, Income Support, Universal Credit and Guaranteed Credit
- Applying for a charging order on your property with Land Registry (sale could be forced to pay your Council Tax arrears - this will incur further costs)
- Applying to make you bankrupt (this will incur further costs)
- Applying to the Magistrates Court for your committal to prison
It is important to get in touch with us as soon as you get a summons. This is especially important if you think we have got something wrong or you have difficulties in paying. If you do we can check any queries you have and make any changes to your account should they be needed. We can also discuss the best way to collect what is owed, but you must be aware the final decision is made by us.
If we can agree an arrangement for payment, we will still ask the magistrates to issue a liability order, but if you keep to the arrangement no further recovery action will be taken. When setting up an arrangement, you will be sent a special payment arrangement letter detailing your instalments and the due dates.
These arrangements are strictly monitored, and if you don’t keep to it, the debt will automatically be forwarded to our enforcement agents and further costs may be incurred. If you don't get in touch we have to decide what to do as we are unable to discuss the situation with you. We would prefer to help you to pay in a way that suits both of us, and not have to take decisions without knowing your full and individual circumstances.