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Hi,

 

Long post I know, questions in bold / italic!

 

My partner has a dispute with a Liability Order that was issued in July 2001 and was recently resurrected by the local council (August this year). The council claims that due to a change in their computer system in 2002, the account was overlooked despite also stating in the same letter that the account was closed accordingly when she moved from the address in question, which she notified them of at the time (October 2001).

 

Additionally, the council claim that the outside bailiff company were unable to make contact and they only discovered her forwarding address in August this year when an audit took place. My partner has been paying her council tax for the last 9 years without fail and the council has had her contact details at all times, as she has kept them informed of any changes, including when we notified them in August that we were moving house (this is the reason we believe that made them contact her and not because of an audit).

 

Since August, there have been numerous exchanges and failures to respond to correspondance by the council, as well as 3 visits from a representative of Bristow & Sutor, the second on Tuesday evening this week (which I then called immediately and left a voice mail) and another one this morning (where I had a 20+ minute conversation with).

 

Due to the age of this, it is almost impossible to get evidence, but my partner fully believes that the Liability Order was settled back in 2002 and her mother has a cheque stub relating to Council Tax for an amount that is in the region of amount being claimed. What we don't have is the cheque or who it was actually paid to.

 

Following the visit on Tuesday this week, we sent another letter detailing our dispute to the local tax office, the LGO and our local MP. No communication happened until this morning, when my phone rang and the bailiff discussed my partners account with me and informed me that he was going to knock on our door (we were not together when the LO was issued - has data protection been breached here?). I informed him that we would refuse entry and that no-one was at home as we were all on our way to work.

 

My partner then phoned the local tax office when we got to work and she was informed that on receipt of our letter, they had immediately contacted Bristow & Sutor to suspend any further action and that the manager of the local tax office had done this yesterday, by phone and on their website. I called the bailiff back, informed him of this to which he said he would check and call me back. He did so several minutes later saying that he had indeed received a text message on his phone and admitted that he had not checked it before calling at our house. No apology. Just told to disregard the letter he had put through our door.

 

I have notified Bristow & Sutor that I wish to make a formal complaint against one of their officers.

 

Given that a Bailiff is required to act within the law at all times, if the action has been suspended and they still continue with the action, against the instructions of the local council, surely this is harassment and illegal?

 

We also believe that the council is guilty of maladministration causing injustice on the grounds of unreasonable delay (9+ years to follow-up original LO, despite being in contact with my partner throughout), failure to investigate (the council has been in contact with her throughout the 9+ year period), failure to provide information and injustice due to hurt feelings, distress, worry and inconvenience. Is this the case?

 

We have placed a Subject Data Access Request to get a full history of the account, in an effort to reconcile the original amount and subsequent charges in the hope that the figures will tally with the amount of the cheque paid in 2002. As it stands, we have been unable to get a copy of the cheque as the banks only keep them for 6 years. We know that the cheque was cashed.

 

Hoping someone can advise and help out!

Edited by lidders
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Unfortunately Liability Orders are cannot be statute barred, and its no use complaining to bailiffs, they will wind you up with lip service. Its the councils responsibility to put things right.

 

Reading your post again, I think the council has not followed correct procedure in applying for a Liability Order, and you might be able to ask a magistrate to revoke it. If you can then the council is unable apply for a new Liability Order retrostpecrively because the debt is more than 6 years old. Section 2 of the Limitation Act 1980.

 

The law says the council must send you a "final notice" or a "reminder" by post to your current address before making an application to a magistrate for a Liability order against you. As there is compelling evidence the council failed to do this, because you changes address and the bailiff obtained your new address without re-sending a reminder or Final Notice, you can now ask the council to roll the case back to pre-liability order stage and cease enforcement action immediately.

 

The law is Section 33(3) and 34(1) of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/613/regulation/33/made

 

Contact the council both in writing (get a Certificate of Posting, DO NOT use recorded delivery) and by phone (record it) and ask them to comply with Regulation 33(3) and 34(1), but if they are unwilling to do so, then you have a right to ask the Local Government Ombudsman to intervene. You can even ask for compensation, the award of this type of non-compliance by a council is typically about £100 per instance. Awards can be more if you have already received a bailiff or paid a sum of money to one.

Professional property investor and conveyancer

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