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Hi & can anyone help

 

07-2006 Southampton City Council informed me of a liability order from Southampton magistrates granted 11-04

re 13 months council tax - from 2003-4

I hadn't stayed 13 months, but arranged to pay £12 per month

from 2007 to late last year my payments flowed by post, with Southampton Local Taxation services sending me a receipt ~[later payment slips] in response to each installment

 

then the payment slips stopped, late last year, [about half the principle paid off]

I paraphrase "Oi" says I "make with the receipts" in case it was a mistake or whatever

 

So then Southampton Local Taxation Services write back saying the payment slips cannot be sent....

because....

"your liability for council tax in Southampton has ceased."

 

[6 years ish after magistrates liability order established][& is the only liability known of]

 

doesn't this letter plainly & unequivocally discharge the liability?

 

Complaint has started with the Southampton local taxation services office

but Equita are sending mean letters, threatening property seizure, etc

[household has now & has only had minimum benefit level income since 2004]

 

Another complication is I'm now in Scotland

 

So, will a company of sheriff's officers write to me separately before they force entry?

 

What would really be appreciated is any reason-set for why the noted phrase

"your liability for council tax in Southampton has ceased." might NOT be a discharge of the liability

[am I misapprehending liability law?]

 

Any advice would be much appreciated

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Hi & can anyone help

 

07-2006 Southampton City Council informed me of a liability order from Southampton magistrates granted 11-04

re 13 months council tax - from 2003-4

I hadn't stayed 13 months, but arranged to pay £12 per month

from 2007 to late last year my payments flowed by post, with Southampton Local Taxation services sending me a receipt ~[later payment slips] in response to each installment

 

then the payment slips stopped, late last year, [about half the principle paid off]

I paraphrase "Oi" says I "make with the receipts" in case it was a mistake or whatever

 

So then Southampton Local Taxation Services write back saying the payment slips cannot be sent....

because....

"your liability for council tax in Southampton has ceased."

 

[6 years ish after magistrates liability order established][& is the only liability known of]

 

doesn't this letter plainly & unequivocally discharge the liability?

 

Complaint has started with the Southampton local taxation services office

but Equita are sending mean letters, threatening property seizure, etc

[household has now & has only had minimum benefit level income since 2004]

 

Another complication is I'm now in Scotland

 

So, will a company of sheriff's officers write to me separately before they force entry?

 

What would really be appreciated is any reason-set for why the noted phrase

"your liability for council tax in Southampton has ceased." might NOT be a discharge of the liability

[am I misapprehending liability law?]

 

Any advice would be much appreciated

 

I would read such a letter to mean that you do NOT owe any money to Southampton. I would have thought that they would have taken a decision to WRITE OFF any debts over a certain period of time.

 

You need to send a Formal Letter of Complaint to the local authority and state to them that if you do not receive a satisfactory response that you will be asking for the complaint to be forwarded to the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

.

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So this letter I'm not sending yet

-if the complaint is rejected 1st phase & I decide to pursue my dispute AND I'm still getting beastly bailiff letters THEN I may consider sending it to the bailiffs WITH ADDRESS ONLY skipping my name & definitely unsigned

[not meaning to serve the bailifs, only to close them into a dance-of-death, kinda, with local taxation services - drawing a line under any "its their fault""no its theirs" nonsense of their part/s[?] - just a value bet - for the poker fans out there]

[beware - this contains a long complex sentence - don't have a brain-melt - if a court could understand it what chance that "professionals" using court processes NOT understanding it might be actual negligence?]

...

deep breaths, here goes....

 

This letter is not, and ought not be read as, concession or implication of any liability whatsoever on the part of the sender.

Re: liability order to which you refer concerning council tax for {REDACTED HERE}Your attention is drawn to the following quoted correspondence from Southampton city council local taxation services, dated prior to your involvement;

"Unfortunately, I am unable to issue any further payment slips as your liability for the council tax in Southampton has ceased."

This appears to plainly and unequivocally discharge the liability ordered by the magistrate.

If you have been, or may have been, improperly involved, and/or deprived of prompt disclosure, pertinent to change to the involvement, with reasoning, it is arguable whether or not this falls far enough below the standards of Southampton city council's statutory obligation so as to constitute corporate negligence on their part, but currently your approaches are neither welcome nor helpful, so you are hereby requested to fairly and reasonably stop your relevant procedures without fail, pending a final dispute resolution outcome of current and ongoing Southampton city council complaints processes, and disclose this, or return the case to the council and disclose this, or disclose why you do neither.

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update - wish it were a surprise that Southampton Local taxation services rejected the first complaint

now [whew] got about 3 weeks to get step2 letter together [the first was a bit hurried]

 

thinking multiple service complaint -14 day notice not received prior to L.O. - bailiffs sent 2nd letter 3 days after council received 1st complaint step [bless you royal mail recorded delivery] classing both as "falling short of the standards of the council's aspirational statutory obligations"

 

plus of course the main issue that the liability was discharged - assessing that is the only way that the letter in question may be read as unequivocal ;

their line on how to stretch to read it is that "the receipts [for payments to service the liability order] had to stop because they were no longer viewing me as a target to be potentially "held to be liable" for CT subsequent to the date of the liability order

So my read is of an actual liability, their claim is of some possible potential liability, [which possibility of course is now dismissed]

Step2 complaint wants to suggest, i guess, that either [eg mistakenly] discharging or equivocally not discharging ought to weirdly add up to a definitive discharge, as equivocal language "falls short of the standards of a councils necessary statutory obligations"; serious stuff, as a state agency's use of legally precise language is an essential to prevent state abusing the individual [say by flim flamming pseudo legalise in flimsy post hoc rationalisations]

 

Any comments much appreciated

 

will try to post letter here for comment before sending [royal mail recorded delivery....aww you guessed]

also considering roping in national debtline re cross-border enforcement

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not posting the full letter

[stage 2 complaint]

just the tasty bits

 

"skirting renunciation"

renunciation is one of the means by which a liability can be released - in contrast to plain unequivocal release, a "wall of renunciation" need not have any individual "brick" - an individual act or statement, be unambiguous

"renunciation" does need

1. objective evincement of the intention to terminate

2. subjective conviction by the recipient that the termination is clear and absolute

 

"skirting" as in skirting the edge of a frozen pond - until foot plunges into cold water, "renunciation" has not happened

this is a dubious & toxic tactic in the private sector - one might skirt renunciation to prompt another party to terminate, in order to later claim that termination to be premature, and launch proceedings on this basis

 

it's only a putative explanation for my experience, so any alternatives would be considered

 

dubious & toxic in private sector - a virtual civil "entrapment" in the public sector, I think

 

did they know? not necessarily - probably not too far from the truth to characterise these programs as akin to an off-the-shelf franchise purchase [think call-centre "script"] - & if designed in the states, where prejudice-light bankrupcy is the norm - that just about bags the squonk

 

renunciation?

sk shipping vs petroexport 2009

[maybe some helpful cagger'll post the link - i can't cos i'm too junior a poster -apparently]

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2nd stage complaint broadly accepted by head of service

their opinion to not proceed

 

overjoyed? cautiously so

shocked?yes

happy?

don't make me laugh

 

still plenty of potential for undeserved distress for disadvantaged/vulnerable folks

so

plenty of detail to follow -will post within a week

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This opinion is that Council tax liability orders (CTLOs) are INHERENTLY & FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED [see below]

but that these flaws must have been anticipated during the preparation of the legislation

and a few ameliorations applied, knowing that in fullness of time evidence might accumulate suggesting that EITHER

those flaws would manifest OR

[against all reasonable expectations] CTLOs would work out fine in practice as instruments of ultimate sanction for local tax.

 

argument summary -

 

Failings in practice

 

Policy flaws naturally might be expected to lead to untoward consequences in practice, & almost a decade of such practice testing the model HAS NOT PROVIDED ANY LACK of untoward consequence,

results which have been anecdotally sampled, repeatedly, in this subforum :-

 

Courts do [and politicians ought] be aware that amongst our population many individuals run into a phase of their lives classable as "disparate" [so, less well-organised, a bit chaotic, things slip, "itinerant" if you will even][classic causes bereavement, health crisis, job loss, retirement, release from armed services, breakdown of long-term relationship, leaving care system etc etc].

These folk are temporarily disadvantaged by vulnerability - in 2 years or 5 they will be fine; good neighbours, virtuous citizens, blameless bourgeouisie once more.

They are not necessarily truly suitable candidates for £100s or £1000s of court-ordered personal liability -(in the traditional pre-CTLO sense)- because of vulnerability.

 

Of the CTLOs determined in absentia without notice of hearing ACTUALLY received by such individuals, in the practice of CTLOs since inception, what estimate might be made of how many might not have been determined to be liabilities, had the court got to hear representation from both parties [council & individual]?

It is not unfair or unreasonable to judge local taxation service offices by the standard of the service they offer the 10% of households of the "bottom of the food chain".

 

fundamental flaw

 

Council tax policy, of which ultimate sanction is a "sub-policy", is founded in the notion of promoting accountability of local government to its local electorate, but because the CTLO is a power prescribed onto it, local governments exercise of it is to act as a functionary only, doing the bidding of their higher authority, and each instance of the exercise of the power effectively steepens the power gradient between national and local government, as the risks from the "inherent" flaw (see below) only increment with each case.

[a more "power-gradient-neutral" option, suggested only for illustrative purposes, could be remitting all ultimate sanction" cases to the inland revenue, for disposal at their discretion - although a council would still be only a "functionary", it would not carry the same risk [of being hoist by their own liability order]]

 

All mainstream political movements hereabouts understand the realpolitik that without determined vigilant effort [& investment of "political capital"], power tends to flow from subordinate to higher authority, and as such continuously promote decentralisation.

 

Because the ultimate sanction sub-policy pulls in the opposite direction to the broad intention of the council tax "umbrella" policy, CTLOs are anti-(local)-democratic.

 

inherent flaw

 

This is inherited from characteristics of liability law, as developed over centuries of common law; some novices may find liability's potential for "reversal" and "snowballing" superficially counter-intuitive - those with more familiarity will be conversant with the concepts.

The potential for reversal and snowballing constitutes a risk in pursuing liability actions, and each instance of a local authority being granted a CTLO increments the probability that some local authority will have to be bailed out by national government, having found themselves on the wrong end of a significant reversed and snowballed case or group of cases.

This increase in probability is the basis of the steepening of power gradient, noted above.

Because some CTLOs will be obtained in absentia without notice of hearing ACTUALLY received, the more usual risk-reward-consideration-profile of liability action is skewed, undermining the reward for higher risk.

 

Liability law is not a good fit for local taxation ultimate sanction; CTLOs, as the relative innovation compared to established common law, ought now to be scrapped. Contortions made to facilitate the marriage, including exempting CTLOs from the conventional fixed term liability did not, ultimately, improve the fit enough to make CTLOs a suitable tool for the job.

 

inappropriate incentive swap

 

Common law inherently (and wisely) disincentivises litigation, as well as being litigated against (the wisdom is to prevent nuisance and other malicious suits, and encourage dispute resolution by more cost-effective methods when appropriate). However, since CTLO is a matter of prescriptive legislation, this disincentive is effectively removed. One incentive which does exist, however, is to "dispose of" as many of the "lowest rent" debts as possible - a larger debt counts as a sweeter asset to hold, and a smaller one carries a lower "snowball" risk, starting as a smaller snowball. This incentive swap, then, provides mechanistic impetus to disproportionately penalise poorer households.

 

Summary

 

This argument suggests that the last 10 years have not shown CTLOs to be a [surprisingly] appropriate instrument of local tax ultimate sanction. The evidence of the practice of CTLOs, when understood in context of the clash of principles involved [ie the urge to dispense "social justice" v the need for determined decentralisation] is enough, now, to warrant their decommission -

no fanfare necessary

no tears shed

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So to precis the above thebeyond, Council Tax liability orders when applied to most circumstances, and notwithstanding, issues of vulnerability, are a sledgehammer to crack a nut, that far from effectively collecting the unpaid Council Tax, only serve to line the pockets of bailiffs with their fees that increase the debt burden beyond what someone, especiallly someone vulnerable, can reasonably be expected to pay. So should be abolished.

 

I agree but there is more chance of the B17 actually being on the moon as published in the now defunct comic The Daily Star than any of the vested interests wanting to change the status quo.


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[brassneck? like the wedding present song? great on 45rpm -pass the strobes!]

 

yeah, thanks for your contribution, though

 

cynically, perhaps not a fish to fry hereabouts

although the present incumbents do not share their political quorate, or necessarily their "political capitol investment" policy, with the brainiacs who dreamt up this abortion

 

hopefully,

these companies weak link may turn out to be their data structures

data protect/FOI? No!

If these companies are using PRIVILEGED information from one division, to inform their annual KPIs

[key performance indicators....yawn] &/or the recontract bids for another

then that might be yer actual insider trading

criminal

 

companies using the "rock the boat gently" tactic of avoiding implication of fraud [same intent, note]

by messing customers & suppliers around

so they can claim to teechur that "they started it"

that'd be a yankee kinda n-ronny practice, no?

[ie maybe a yank software, bought off-the-shelf by these "public service provision" companies,

without really challenging the prevailing [un-]wisdom that they'd "port" adequately to our judicial code,

with the companies basically under the thumb of the then-incumbents - except they never did like sucking up to yanks - o...umm...actually]

 

be terrible if the real profiteers ran into RICO predicates, got their whole game declared a criminal enterprise,

& had to hand back the keys to the place in malibu AND the place in west palm beach

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