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Council tax summons on their own paper???


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A friend of mine recieved a "court summons" today for council tax unpaid from LAST MONTH! That's it, last bloody month and they#re saying over the phone that charges of one kind or another will apply even if the whole bill was paid off right now. Saying it will goto court anyway now and costs will incur etc. Now excuse me but this seems afwul! She lives in a different council area to me and my council would never do this! Send out summons after one frickin month! Firstly, how valid is this bullshyt of them sending out their own summons letters? I read in another thread that they're allowed to by law but the thread didn't become resolved or elaborate further. Secondly, theoretically, as the bill stands until the end of the tax year we all have to pay our council tax bill by March or April, some people pay in 3 or 4 big installements, some pay all off in one, most people like my friend who is a single parent with a part time job, pay monthly. So what right do they have to now charge the ENTIRE bill instead of just requesting that one month missed as arrears or whatever? If the bill was paid off right now and it goes to court surely she can't be charged costs??????????

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A friend of mine recieved a "court summons" today for council tax unpaid from LAST MONTH!

More information would be helpful here, such as when previous payments have been made, have any been late, have any previous reminders been received etc. The CT recovery system is based on late payments throughout the entire year, not per instalment. For example, if your friend paid late in April, June, October, and December then the council are right in issuing a summons. If she has only missed/been late in paying just December's CT then they are wrong in issuing this summons. It is my understanding that a reminder (usually two) and a final notice have to be issued before a summons can be applied.

 

That's it, last bloody month and they#re saying over the phone that charges of one kind or another will apply even if the whole bill was paid off right now. Saying it will goto court anyway now and costs will incur etc.

Court costs are applied, and are payable, for the issue of a summons. If the whole balance is not paid then it will go to court which incurs further costs, but if it's all paid before the court date it obviously won't go to court because there is no debt.

 

Now excuse me but this seems afwul! She lives in a different council area to me and my council would never do this! Send out summons after one frickin month!

It does sound odd I admit, but it depends on whether any other payments have been late within this financial year (April 2010 to March 2011).

 

Firstly, how valid is this bullshyt of them sending out their own summons letters?

I'm not sure what you mean here: are you asking if the council are allowed to issue summons themselves? If so, yes they are. I don't know of any organisation which deals with the CT accounts but not the summons.

 

Secondly, theoretically, as the bill stands until the end of the tax year we all have to pay our council tax bill by March or April, some people pay in 3 or 4 big installements, some pay all off in one, most people like my friend who is a single parent with a part time job, pay monthly. So what right do they have to now charge the ENTIRE bill instead of just requesting that one month missed as arrears or whatever?

CT is due at the beginning of every financial year and that entire balance is owed to the council on 1 April. However, most people cannot pay their bill in one go so the council give the right to pay by instalments. If the instalment plan is defaulted on then the council do have the right to chase the liable party/parties for the whole balance, because it is technically owed on 1 April. AFAIK they only can remove instalments if a summons has been issued.

 

If the bill was paid off right now and it goes to court surely she can't be charged costs??????????

She is liable for paying the costs that were issued for the summons even if the bill is paid up before the court date. The only way she would not have to pay that amount is if the summons was incorrectly issued.

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  • 7 months later...
A friend of mine recieved a "court summons" today for council tax unpaid from LAST MONTH!

More information would be helpful here, such as when previous payments have been made, have any been late, have any previous reminders been received etc. The CT recovery system is based on late payments throughout the entire year, not per instalment. For example, if your friend paid late in April, June, October, and December then the council are right in issuing a summons. If she has only missed/been late in paying just December's CT then they are wrong in issuing this summons. It is my understanding that a reminder (usually two) and a final notice have to be issued before a summons can be applied.

 

That's it, last bloody month and they#re saying over the phone that charges of one kind or another will apply even if the whole bill was paid off right now. Saying it will goto court anyway now and costs will incur etc.

Court costs are applied, and are payable, for the issue of a summons. If the whole balance is not paid then it will go to court which incurs further costs, but if it's all paid before the court date it obviously won't go to court because there is no debt.

 

Now excuse me but this seems afwul! She lives in a different council area to me and my council would never do this! Send out summons after one frickin month!

It does sound odd I admit, but it depends on whether any other payments have been late within this financial year (April 2010 to March 2011).

 

Firstly, how valid is this bullshyt of them sending out their own summons letters?

I'm not sure what you mean here: are you asking if the council are allowed to issue summons themselves? If so, yes they are. I don't know of any organisation which deals with the CT accounts but not the summons.

 

If you read the relevant legislation it says "The council may request a justice of the peace to issue a summons.". No where in the legislation does it say "the council may print of its own summons in word and use a fake signature". If you actually persue this question all you will get is shrugging of shoulders or blank stares

 

Secondly, theoretically, as the bill stands until the end of the tax year we all have to pay our council tax bill by March or April, some people pay in 3 or 4 big installements, some pay all off in one, most people like my friend who is a single parent with a part time job, pay monthly. So what right do they have to now charge the ENTIRE bill instead of just requesting that one month missed as arrears or whatever?

CT is due at the beginning of every financial year and that entire balance is owed to the council on 1 April. However, most people cannot pay their bill in one go so the council give the right to pay by instalments. If the instalment plan is defaulted on then the council do have the right to chase the liable party/parties for the whole balance, because it is technically owed on 1 April. AFAIK they only can remove instalments if a summons has been issued.

 

If the bill was paid off right now and it goes to court surely she can't be charged costs??????????

She is liable for paying the costs that were issued for the summons even if the bill is paid up before the court date. The only way she would not have to pay that amount is if the summons was incorrectly issued.

 

Please give an instance of another court where costs are applied BEFORE THE CASE

 

also the council are not allowed to profit from the costs , what they do is wait until thay have a number of cases then hire the court for the day. So if they have 200 cases at for arguments sake £50 costs each case , thats £10,000 for a days work........

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Please give an instance of another court where costs are applied BEFORE THE CASE

Why would I do that? I don't know anything about other courts.

 

also the council are not allowed to profit from the costs , what they do is wait until thay have a number of cases then hire the court for the day. So if they have 200 cases at for arguments sake £50 costs each case , thats £10,000 for a days work........

They go to court every month, regardless of how many cases they have. At least that's how it works in my area.

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Its not so much as 'hire' the court as booking a slot. Yes they pay for the court costs but the slot for the council tax hearings has to be fitted in between any other cases and the courts will bounce the hearing to hear any criminal cases that are up and running.

 

The slots are booked in advance as each council will have a timetable based on the dates that summons are issued (it would be a very very small council that didn't have enough summons each month to justify a visit to the court each month)

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Its not so much as 'hire' the court as booking a slot. Yes they pay for the court costs but the slot for the council tax hearings has to be fitted in between any other cases and the courts will bounce the hearing to hear any criminal cases that are up and running.

 

The slots are booked in advance as each council will have a timetable based on the dates that summons are issued (it would be a very very small council that didn't have enough summons each month to justify a visit to the court each month)

 

 

This is an accurate account of the events as I experienced them on the 2nd June 2011 as a result of being Summoned to appear at 2pm at Grimsby Magistrates' Court for alleged non-payment of Council Tax.

 

 

Some statistics in respect of that day:

 

  • 3,359 Summonses sent out for court hearings (2nd June 2011)

  • 2,602 Incurring Summons costs of £70

Revenue due to households incurring these costs:

  • North East Lincolnshire Council £174,334

  • Her Majesty's Court Service £7,806 (£15,612 per hour)

Despite stating on the Summons document relating to alleged non-payment of council tax that:

 

"You are hereby summoned to appear on [date] at [time] before the Magistrates sitting at The Magistrate's Court ……"

 

It was odd to find that council staff were deployed in the court's premises to intervene with the proceedings.

 

On arriving at the Court's premises I showed to a staff member behind a glass fronted counter my correspondence, which clearly stated that I was summoned to appear before the Magistrates that afternoon. She enquired whether it was for council tax, and instructed me to wait with a dozen or so others, when I agreed that it was. Like myself they had all been instructed to wait for the council's court enforcement manager – a council official with no connections to the court – who would subsequently assemble the accused, then lead them to a room hired by the council, denying their right to a hearing in font of Magistrates because they don't know any better.

 

I pointed out to the court employee I had been summoned to appear before Magistrates, not council staff, to which she replied it was customary to be met by council staff. Already, alarm bells were ringing; the council pocketing more than half a million of residents cash each year by taking them to court, had already raised my suspicions that this was a sc*m. Evidence unfolding before me reinforced my opinion that the event was bogus.

 

I stood my ground expressing my view that a court hearing should be conducted by the court, not the council who brought about the complaint. I was intrigued to know how the council and HMCS had the front to pull off this stunt. Literally 3,359 could have demanded their cases were heard, if, like myself they had taken up the Magistrate's invitation to the 2pm hearing. It was by then obvious that it was the job of council staff to prevent those summoned, having their cases heard by the Magistrates.

 

Finally another court employee intervened. Despite his attempt to sway my decision he did finish by conceding that I may wait for a hearing before the Magistrate. Had I known there would be almost three hours hanging around, I may have joined the quicker version hosted by the council's court enforcement manager.

 

My court summons – effectively a pass allowing me the opportunity to see for myself whether the proceedings were bogus – indicated so far that they were.

 

Firstly the automated summons document sent out to thousands of residents each year originates from the Council rather than the Magistrate's Court. It seems the council's intention is to defraud residents by sending out documents falsely represented by them to have some official character, namely the Magistrates' court.

 

Secondly the summons has a signature of the Clerk to the Justices somehow doctored on to it with the document stating that the council should be contacted with any queries, and not the Court.

 

Thirdly there is no requirement for those summoned to actually attend the court, but for those who do attend there is council intervention and a clear indication that it was not intended that anybody should actually appear before the Judge.

 

I'd passed what I considered to be the first hurdle (so I thought) which was avoiding the council employees' meddling. I naively waited for what I expected would be just minutes until my hearing began. I sat with the dozen or so others, who were following their instructions and still waiting for the council's court enforcement manager to collect them. To my knowledge, I was the only one meeting the requirements of the summons by appearing before the Magistrates.

 

The court employee who intervened earlier approached me for a further attempt to coerce me into attending what I considered the alternative hearing conducted by the council. His approach relied largely on the fact these court summons could be taken with a pinch of salt enabling the council to take care of the attendees. He clearly had no suspicion that my primary reason for attending the court was to determine whether the event was bogus. Unwittingly, after I asked why it stated: 'You are hereby summoned to appear before the Magistrates…' he enthusiastically stated they did not really originate from the court but in fact were sent out by the council. I anticipated there would be some telltale signs of things not being quite right, but I never imagined the evidence would be handed to me on a plate.

 

Letting the cat out of the bag still further he effectively told me the summons functioned as bait to lure those disputing liability to be ensnared by the council on arrival at the court. I was growing increasingly aware that the 3,300 or so who had accepted the penalty costs by not attending the court would have equally been fooled by these fake summonses.

 

Those who didn't realise they were being had were assembled by Staff, and led upstairs to where the council would conduct its sham hearing. The foyer, almost empty now, except for myself and a couple of others became almost silent as one divulged to me familiar horror stories about the council and their bailiffs, Rossendales.

 

The same court staff member came back for his third attempt to change my mind. Reiterating that I had been summoned to appear before Magistrates, not the council, I added that all the court attendees should be heard by the Judge. He stated that it was unrealistic to expect fifteen minutes of Magistrate's time to be given to each resident who attended court. My response to his gift of incriminating evidence was "then why send out these summonses"? As a Police Constable interrupted our conversation, this was never answered; he was probably sent to hush him from inadvertently revealing that this event was indeed a sham.

 

I'd been at the court premises for nearly three quarters of an hour and there was no indication that my case would be heard. My new friend the court staff member was back on the scene. I asked him when it was likely the courtroom would be free and why it stated 2pm on the summons. He explained it could be hours and pointed out the merits of the council's sham hearing as those attending were now leaving the court.

 

I used my time to familiarise myself with the issues I intended to raise in the court room; these I'd prepared and were printed on the reverse side of the summons. I first wanted to express the immorality of the system whereby HMCS and the council team up to profit from the less well off residents, and that anyone involved in this process were not fit to be in the legal profession.

 

There is case law from Lord Chief Justice Widgery pertaining to the validity of summonses in 'Regina v. Brentford Justices ex parte Catlin', which provides that;

 

"a decision by magistrates whether to issue a summons pursuant to information laid involves the exercise of a judicial function, and is not merely administrative."

 

I hoped to impress on the Judge that given the number of these summonses running into thousands at a single hearing, and the council sending out their own; the process would, by necessity, be merely administrative and therefore result in very serious instances of maladministration leading to excessive profits for both the Court and council.

 

I wanted to know why HMCS accepted the council's hike in penalty charges especially when a reduction would have been more realistically warranted as they'd forced more residents into paying these by unifying the existing summons and liability order costs. I'd hoped they could throw some light on why these changes had been agreed behind closed doors with public and press excluded and why a council document listing income generation, revealed this would raise £188,000 for each of the following 4 years when such fees are to cover Council Tax recovery.

 

I'd liked to of raised my concern about why the council take on the role of the Court and why a proportion of penalty fees collected by the council are paid to Her Majesty's Court Service for the use of their facilities, the intervention of council officials, the council sending out their own summonses, the document stating that Council should be contacted with any queries, not the Court.

 

I intended to express as many of these points to the Magistrate before being inevitably silenced.

 

With no sign that the hearing scheduled around two hours earlier would ever happen, I sought the person to complain about the complete lack of organisation and information available. I was handed a leaflet that required any complaint to be in writing and dictating what could and could not be complained about. I was not interested in their procedure but wanted to discuss with someone about the fiasco.

 

Impressing on them I was not part of their organisation and therefore not interested in their procedure they led me to where the Usher was milling around outside what would be the courtroom for my hearing. I enquired whether the hearing(s) being conducted in that courtroom were for residents disputing their council tax liability. Outrageously not only had my case not been heard but there had been none relating to Council Tax during the two hours or so since the time of the scheduled hearing.

 

My specific questions to the Usher related to why the summons had been sent out by the council instead of the court and the massive delay between the time of the scheduled and the actual hearing. Unfortunately the Usher could not relate to my actual question about why the document had been sent by the council and reiterated that I had not paid my council tax and this was the reason I had been summoned to appear before the Magistrates. Getting her to explain why council officials where placed at the court premises to intervene with the hearing was going to blow her mind so I concentrated on getting my initial questions answered.

 

Questioning again why court documents were dealt with and sent out by the council caused the Usher to assume the role of Judge, jury and executioner. She emphasised that if I had paid my Council Tax then I wouldn't have been summoned to the court. Despite informing her I had in fact paid my council tax, I questioned the appropriateness of a court Usher expressing personal views about members of the public attending the court.

 

During the wasted time spent with the Usher attempting to get answers, my summons document (including the notes I'd prepared for questions) was briefly taken from me for photocopying. At least now any points I failed to get across to the Magistrates in the Court room could be read as they now had a printed copy.

 

It became clear that it was normal, at least in the case of council tax hearings, to be summoned to appear before the Magistrates at a set time with the actual hearing being several hours later.

 

Other than querying the number of residents receiving summonses for that day's court hearing, to establish the profit made by the council and the court, I did nothing but sit and wait to be called into the court room.

 

Now around 4:30pm, two and a half hours after the scheduled hearing, the first person to appear before the Magistrates was called into the court room to dispute his Council Tax liability.

 

Hardly 10 minutes had lapsed before he reappeared from the court room. Shortly after this I was called in, the second and final person to do so out of a total 3,359 summoned to appear before the Magistrates at 2pm that afternoon for alleged non-payment of either Council Tax or Business Rates.............

Edited by outlawla
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How are councils able to issue a court generated summons when its not from the court

 

when i got my summons from dvla. It was not called a summons but a requisition

 

only a court or police authority can issue a summons to a magistrates court

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Hmm ................ and does it continue?

 

PT

 

Yes, unfortunately it continues. It goes on and on and on and is still ongoing.

 

Another installment for the hearing at Grimsby Magistrates' Court of 2nd June 2011 for alleged non-payment of Council Tax where Her Majesty's Court Service provided their services for £15,612 per hour.

 

IN THE COURTROOM

 

It would be my first time inside a courtroom; I anticipated an intimidating atmosphere with subservient court staff wavering below elevated Magistrates.

 

To assert myself and send out signals I would not be intimidated and retain some control, I stormed into the courtroom before and without the usher’s guidance. Faced with a deafening silence I had no idea where to sit or stand while those attending, including the Magistrates, fixed their gaze on me.

 

I realised entering this way had backfired, though I would not allow their regime to gain a psychological advantage, especially given this was part of a state-sanctioned extortion racket.

 

The usher entered the courtroom and directed me to the Dock to await the Clerk's instructions. This included an explanation of what grounds liability could be disputed. As I had in fact paid all my council tax installments, and on time, these were the grounds I would use to dispute my liability.

 

Unprompted and before the Magistrate had chance to speak, I aired my first view. This was that the collaboration between the court and council was a sc*m, immorally profiting from less privileged residents with regards court fees and summons costs. Other than one Magistrate having a mixed look of shock and intrigue there was surprisingly no reaction to this. Unexpectedly I still had the court’s attention and continued to reveal that the summonses were bogus as they were dealt with by councils instead of the court.

 

The Magistrate interrupted, stating the court and council were independent of each other and not in cahoots. While he was defending the court’s profiteering I asked why the court received payment from the council for the use of their facilities. He signaled to the Royal Coat of Arms and reminded me I was in Her Majesty’s courtroom and should behave accordingly.

 

I figured the court and council’s share-out of the £182,000 penalty charges supplied by sc*mmed residents would rely on successfully obtaining the bulk liability order with respect to the thousands of council tax accounts, and the hearing having no complications like contempt of court. What other reason would the court be prepared to tolerate my conduct?

 

Testing my theory that the court was unlikely to find me in contempt of court therefore compromising its winnings, I stated – while still being reprimanded – that the hearing was bogus, this invited another reprimand. The lecture this time concerned talking over the Magistrate. He commented that although I may disagree with the legal process it was not the place to vent ones anger. I sensed the Magistrate also considered the council and courts profiteering this way to be immoral, though I think his sleepless nights wrestling with his conscience would be more than compensated by *his six figure salary.

 

When questioned how I would dispute my liability, I replied that all my payments had been made and well before the due date. It transpired that my word would not be sufficient to convince the court of my innocence and would soon find out they would grant the council its order. This would allow the authority to instruct their appointed bailiffs to enforce a non-existing debt while branding me a liar.

 

My method of council tax payments was next asked, which was internet banking paid directly into the council’s bank account. The next line of enquiry was naturally why the council had summoned me to court for non-payment. I assumed it to be a vendetta originating from an on-going and long running dispute over the council’s attempt to defraud me through their bailiffs Rossendales.

 

The Clerk instructed that I be seated while the council’s Court Enforcement Manager produced the necessary evidence that I had defaulted on my council tax payments. The Court Enforcement Manager who I knew normally as arrogant seemed somehow different in the surroundings of the courtroom. The smugness I encountered in a previous meeting where he bragged about his courtroom conquests and his power to ruin people’s lives through bankruptcies and repossessions etc, was not at all apparent.

 

Now he was polite, subservient, like a timid mouse, addressing the Magistrate as Sir several times, in fact I was close to throwing up.

 

The council employee’s evidence originated from the same source that triggered the automatic generation of 3,359 summonses that were sent out to households relating to this court hearing. He nervously sifted through the computer printouts that the court apparently accept as conclusive evidence to grant the council liability orders, despite no actual person from either the court or council investigating why the council’s computer software decided to bring about court action.

 

He found the computer printout relating to my council tax account and carrying his bundle of papers, tiptoed nervously up to one of the Magistrates. Addressing him timidly as sir in his sniveling tone, he pointed out the details relating to my account and declared there were no payments made with respect to the account and the full liability plus the £70 added as a penalty charge was outstanding.

 

The Magistrate nodded in agreement and the council’s representative scurried nervously back to his seat.

 

Demonstrating my contempt for this government backed extortion I stated I was quite happy to be seated and continued talking after being ordered to stand by the court. I sensed I was pushing my theory to the limit – that the court was unlikely to find me in contempt of court.

 

After some nervousness in the courtroom I stood up, fearing I would not have the opportunity to express more of my views about our government’s systematic theft. A brief thank you from the court for my compliance was followed by my announcement – though not quite this polite – that effectively stated I was not here to lick the boots of the Magistrates, but to enquire into and gain knowledge about this corrupt regime. Again this invited another warning from the court.

 

The Magistrate proceeded to announce the guilty verdict at the same time that I requested how many residents had been summoned in respect of alleged non-payment of council tax for that day’s hearing. My reply was that the court did not have that information, which is odd when you bear in mind that “before a summons or warrant is issued the information must be laid before a magistrate and he must go through the judicial exercise of deciding whether a summons or warrant ought to be issued or not

 

His admission that they did not have this information implied there was a very serious case of maladministration which should have the attention of the authorities as this suggested that summonses had been issued without information being laid before the magistrate.

 

I pointed to the council’s court enforcement manager’s bundle of computer printouts and suggested that the information I requested lay in his hands.

 

The Magistrate’s reply altered from not having the information to being none of my business. My conduct was being taken more serious now as I was deemed to be offensive when I disagreed with him and argued that it was in everyone’s interest to know the extent to which they are being mugged by the government.

 

I continued expressing my views despite the warnings and while the Magistrate continued relaying the outcome of the hearing. He spoke increasingly louder, enabling his voice to be heard over mine. He had obviously given up trying to maintain any order and raced towards bringing the hearing to a conclusion, thus bagging its share of the £182,000 penalty charges for its half hour involvement in the scám.

 

I would not be seen to take the verdict of this bogus hearing seriously, and although not really finding the situation funny I forced myself to laugh when the Magistrate threatened that if I failed to pay my full year’s council tax liability plus the incurred penalty charge before a given date, the account would be handed to bailiffs to enforce payment. His response to this was that I would not be finding the situation so funny when facing a custodial sentence for non-payment. This final comment turned my forced, fake laughter to genuine; there was something about the self importance of this Magistrate and Mickey Mouse court that had me uncontrollably howling in hysterics.

 

OUTCOME:

 

  • Council granted a bulk liability order permitting them to hand over 2,000 cases to their appointed bailiffs to enforce payment.

  • Court bagged £7,806 for contributing half an hour’s courtroom time.

  • North East Lincolnshire Council bagged £174,334 in respect of that afternoon’s hearing.

* Poetic licence – Magistrates are paid expenses.

 

 

 

EDIT:

 

More details can be found on Grimsby Telegraph's comments, to article Help is available for your council tax bill

Edited by outlawla
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