Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder clarabell82 Novitiate

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    Default Committal to prison - council tax

    Hi is urgently need some help of advise.
    This is a on going problem with havering council. We feel behind with our council tax a few years ago, my partner was the only one working and we were living on 220 a week and having to pay full rent /council tax ect... anyway, we found we was unable to do this and fell behind. We ended up getting in debt with a few companys in the mean time also. We started getting final notices and court summons from the council, we emailed, wrote and informed them we cant afford to pay the amount in full and can we set up a payment arrangement... We did this about 15 times in the last 3 years. When i started back at work we paid 40 a week and emailed and proposed this as a on going thing, it was again declined. So very dishearted and stupid, we stopped paying and used it to clear other debt that were happy to accept the amount. Anyway to was we recieved a committal to prison, straight away i have sent a letter explain the situation and offering to clear the debt in 24 months, we made a good will gesture payment of 40 also, and said we will put the money away each week untill either they accept or the time of the court hearing.. I am so worried.. I dont want to go to prison i have children! And i have NEVER refused to pay it, we have just never come to a arrgree ment.
    Does anyone have any advise for me? or maybe someone whob has been through it before that can explain it to me what happens? I understand i have been silly in not addressing this sooner, but we have been trying to get ourself straight with companys that willingly took our money. And now i am soo scared. It has ruined our christmas and i know i am going to make myself ill worrying about it now...
    Please help

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    Did you try and claim council tax benefit? If you didn't you might be able to back date a claim if you were entitled to it.

    How much do you actually owe them?

    I am sure they will not want to send you to prison if there is a way of paying it back. If you are working they can do earnings attachments and what I would do is start sending them payments even if they have refused the proposal you have made.

    I am no expert in this, but hopefully if I post a reply someone who has more experience can advise you.

    Please don't worry too much - there are a lot of people in arrears with council tax and I have not heard of anyone yet going to prison. I do payrolls for companies whose staff are paying off arrears from 2 or 3 years ago at 15 a week from their wages.


  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder clarabell82 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    hi there thank you so much for your reply. I couldnt sleep last night worrying about it.. I have contacted my local MP and asked of there is anything he can reccomend, but i dont hold out much hope. I owe 3600 for 4 years c/t Is it about 1000 less due to odd payments we have made, but obviosly this is not enough. We tried to claim bennifit and was told even though my partner only brought home 220 we wasnt entitled to anything. I made the 40 payment yesterday and will make 40 a week payment untill the court date, there is nothing more i can do - I mean 40 is still pushing it slightly, but i need a amount i can stick to and when the new council tax year starts, i can afford to pay that also. I know we have got ourself into a mess, but i was only 21 when it all started and was first time living alone and was nieve and stupid, but im paying for that now lol


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    hi, Firstly the courts will only imprison somebody who refuses to pay, not someone who is in financial trouble.
    You could do with prioritising your debts. Rent, council tax, utiliity bills.tv licence are all priority debt. If you have credit cards,loans and overdrafts, they are low priority and while they'll still need to be paid you can offer lower amounts.
    You say you get 220 a week. What about Child tax credits Child benefit and Working tax credits? if you are not getting CTC/WTC then you should be claiming them.
    When you claim housing benefit, they would asume you are getting these other benefits based on your income so yes they would reject your claim.
    My daughter and son in law have 3 children, bring in about 300 a week and still get HB/CTB(albeit not a lot)

    Go here Start Calculation

    This site will work out what you're entitled to

    good luck

    fox


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    I do not want to raise your hopes but it is important to know that last year approx: 3 MILLION Liability Orders were issued for non payment of council tax and many of these are for people like you who have not paid for a few years.

    A hearing for an application for committal can only take place at a Magistrates Court and there are ONLY two things that the Magistrates can look at. These are "willful refusal" and "culpable neglect".

    Our office does have 2 people who have been sent to prison for "wiliful refusal" and in BOTH cases they are part of an action group who refuse to accept that they should pay council tax.

    In deciding "culpable neglect" a magistrate would look at whether you have for instance taken an expensive holidayicon or purchased a new car with money that you could have instead used t pay your council tax.

    It is therefore VITALLY important to ensure that you have a "paper trail" to demonstrate that you have made proposals to pay and that these have been refused.

    Finally, the court will also want to ENSURE that the council have "looked at all other options" including attachment of earnings, a charge on your property etc" before deciding on committal.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    Quote Originally Posted by tomtubby View Post
    I do not want to raise your hopes but it is important to know that last year approx: 3 MILLION Liability Orders were issued for non payment of council tax and many of these are for people like you who have not paid for a few years.

    A hearing for an application for committal can only take place at a Magistrates Court and there are ONLY two things that the Magistrates can look at. These are "willful refusal" and "culpable neglect".

    Our office does have 2 people who have been sent to prison for "wiliful refusal" and in BOTH cases they are part of an action group who refuse to accept that they should pay council tax.

    In deciding "culpable neglect" a magistrate would look at whether you have for instance taken an expensive holidayicon or purchased a new car with money that you could have instead used t pay your council tax.

    It is therefore VITALLY important to ensure that you have a "paper trail" to demonstrate that you have made proposals to pay and that these have been refused.

    Finally, the court will also want to ENSURE that the council have "looked at all other options" including attachment of earnings, a charge on your property etc" before deciding on committal.

    Certain councils are now issuing statutory demands for bankruptcy rather than following the above process


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    You are right on the bankruptcy route however we are hearing that many local authorities are not going this route because of the recession and the lack of facilities for raising money.


  8. #8
    Basic Account Holder baron1967 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    I have just finished a 19 day sentance, in prison, for non payment of council tax! It was not a question of refusing to pay, but due to severe financial burdens, I got into arrears. The magistrate decided I should serve this sentance which may have cost me my job. So now I face being unemployed, with a criminal record and still not being in the position to settle the debt!


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Committal to prison - council tax

    Hello there baron.

    I'm intrigued to know what happened there.

    At what point did you get sent to prison?

    I'm assuming not at your first court appearance.



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