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Community Charge Arrears from 22 years ago!


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At which point FP surely the council could produce the alleged records on request from a magistrate or judge, to back up their fairy tale?

 

Only in front of a judge, but then you would be having a judicial review of the matter, which is going to be more expensive than the OP can afford.

 

Magistrates will not look into this, unless it gets to a committal hearing. The council would just evidence from their records that they applied for the LO and they have attempted to collect the debt over the years without payment. I read a long paper that appeared in the law society in 2003 and it was quite shocking to read, that councils appear to hold all the cards. The legislation did not provide much in the way of contesting how the way councils behaved.

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What is very worrying here is that without any doubt....your account will not be the only "vintage account" that Liverpool City Council would have re-opened and passed to their bailiff provider.

 

I have a friend who works in the Ombudsman's office and I will call her on Monday about this scenario.

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What is very worrying here is that without any doubt....your account will not be the only "vintage account" that Liverpool City Council would have re-opened and passed to their bailiff provider.

 

I have a friend who works in the Ombudsman's office and I will call her on Monday about this scenario.

 

Councils are struggling for money, so they are obviously going through very old accounts to see what they can find.

 

Is there such a thing as a 'super complaint' to the LGO, where they can be made to look into this and stop such old collections until it has had relevant review ? Perhaps ask your friend about the process for urgent reviews and who can ask for these.

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This is utter nonsense and is very worrying indeed.

Firstly, if there is a Liability Order, then if enforcement proceedings are being made and a query raised, then the council MUST be able to provide DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE of the Liability Order being granted.

It is not for you to get a copy...the local authority MUST do this.

There are a number of reasons as to why evidence MUST be provided.

Poll tax...or to give it its correct title; the community charge was a sheer disaster and ultimately led to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall.

Six years after the "poll tax" ended, an estimated 4,000,000 people who had declined to pay as much as £5 billion were "immune from prosecution". This was because; under Regulation 438 of the Community Charge Administration and Enforcement Regulations 1989 a six year statute of limitation was imposed preventing councils from serving Liability Orders on defaulters.

There will also be serious problems for the council IF they are able to provide EVIDENCE of Liability Order being served. This is because, from government figures provided by Cipfa they showed that at March 1997 £550 million in poll tax was still outstanding in England and Wales and as a consequence, ENGLISH AND WELSH COUNCILS ALONE WROTE OF AS BAD DEBT A TOTAL OF MORE THAN £3BILLION !!!!!

The following press reports from 1999 are of interest:

“Bill Lovell, vice-chairman of the law and research committee of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation, calculates that more than half the £1.2 billion of unpaid council tax from the first year in England and Wales - for which the six-year limit expired in 1996 - will now never be collected. When outstanding legal actions have ended, the same is likely to be said for subsequent years. "The statute of limitation applies if someone hasn't acknowledged the debt," says Lovell. "There's nothing you could do now."

and:

“Another option open to councils was attachment orders, deducting money owed from wages or benefit. The problem with this was that such orders often meant the non-payer had to pay back the debt at £2 a week. With poll tax bills averaging about £300, and several years of arrears building up before most people were caught, councils faced a wait to get their money back”

As you will see from above, if a true copy of the original Liability Order/s cannot be produced, then the council have a problem. Furthermore, as stated above, councils wrote off £5 billion of arrears of "poll tax" by 1999 (when the "poll tax" ended. Unless the council can provide evidence, I would argue that this account was also written off!!!!

I hope the above is of assistance!!!!

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Good points !. The odds are greatly that this was written off years ago. The council may be seeing these old things are new income. Gong after it after it has been written off is Fraud. The problem with revealing it is that the write-off records may be hard to find, Could be worth going through their old accounts to look for the write-offs. besides looking for the write-offs don't forget that for the debt to still be on the books it will have had to have been carried forward every year for 22 years and that has to be evidenced in their accounts - something to challenged there !!

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Guardian article. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/1999/apr/14/guardiansocietysupplement4

 

In the OP's case the liability order was apparently obtained within the 6 year period, so can be chased for as long as the council like. It has not been written off, as far as the council are concerned. What legislation or case laws cite that a copy of the LO has to be provided to allow enforcement to continue icon5.png

 

This article from 31/5/03 by Alan Murdie in the Justice of the peace is worth a read through.

 

http://z2k.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/council-tax-liability-order-hearing_justice-of-the-peace-310503_AM.pdf

 

My research says that this debt is enforceable and lack of a copy of the liability order from 1992 may not stop bailiffs being employed. Suggest that the OP makes a complaint about the council not being able to evidence the liability order and suggests that the council allow an urgent complaint to the LGO to go ahead.

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The OP should contact Citizens Advice in Liverpool as they have been dealing with the council in regard to these old Community charge cases for a ling time.

 

Here is a CAB report from 2008.

 

http://www.northliverpoolcab.co.uk/In%20Distress%20Bailiff%20Report.pdf

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"It has not been written off, as far as the council are concerned." But what does their accounting say ? that would be a fact rather than an opinion of the council. they may not have written them off, we don't know. Has to worth looking in case they have in fact written them off.

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"It has not been written off, as far as the council are concerned." But what does their accounting say ? that would be a fact rather than an opinion of the council. they may not have written them off, we don't know. Has to worth looking in case they have in fact written them off.

 

The OP says the council and various companies have been chasing this for years in one of their posts.

 

I have been reading up on this and Liverpool council have been issuing thousands of these demands for payment of very old community charges. This has been going on for the last few years. They were even chasing in one case, where the amount had been remitted/written off by a court.

 

The OP should definitely challenge this and I would advise that they get help from CAB, plus the MP if need be to help with this.

 

You raise an interesting point regarding 'accounting', but I think the council will say that they have a public interest duty to chase for all debts that had not been paid, whether or not they had been written off previous as bad and doubtful debts on any accounts.

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A FoI request to the council to see the oldest debt they have received payment upon could prove interesting, along with a letter to the ICO to see how long a council should keep records covering unpaid tax.

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A FoI request to the council to see the oldest debt they have received payment upon could prove interesting, along with a letter to the ICO to see how long a council should keep records covering unpaid tax.

 

If the legislation stipulates the debt can be recovered irrespective of the Statute Of Limitations, they should keep those affected records indefinitely until paid or the debtor dies imho.

 

Interesting how Equita's practices were being questioned in 2008 in the report linked by unclebulgaria67, qand four years later guess what? they are still up to the same tricks. they should be closed down as unfit to trade.

 

I recommend any Cagger who hasn't done so should download and digest this report, as it captures a microcosm of the ongoing issues, that are reflected in the nation at large.

In the weighing of the evidence, nothing has been done to address the issues raised in 2008, bar an enforcement industry friendly MOJ consultation, the proposals therein if adopted would make things much worse.

 

OP must ask for evidence and then escalate to Formal complaint if they have no paper evidence a Liability Order exists.

Edited by brassnecked

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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I cannot locate it at the moment but there is a very important legal ruling concerning a local authority who were wanting to bring commital satisfactory evidence that they had many sufficient attempts over the years to obtain payment.

 

I haven't got the time today but maybe someone else on here could find details of the bailiff company who apparently had this case in the 1990's. The bailiff co were called Gault & Co. I may be wrong... but something tells me that this company had gone bust owing a LOT of money to local authorities.

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INSOLVENT BAILIFF GAULTS KICKED OUT OF ASSOCIATION

 

1 June, 2000

Gaults, the firm of bailiffs which owes councils more than£1.3m, has been kicked out of the Association of Civil E...

Gaults, the firm of bailiffs which owes councils more than£1.3m, has been kicked out of the Association of Civil Enforcement Agents.

As LGC revealed last week, Gaults owes at least 47 councils monies it collected on their behalf from debtors. The company's principal partner, Martin Pearce, has not been traced for the past fortnight (LGC, 26 May).

Association secretary Chris Tye said: 'On the evidence available . . . Gaults had been trading while insolvent, which is unacceptable. The directors [of the association] felt rather let down. Gaults had many opportunities to tell us they were insolvent.'

In a further development, Gaults' Newcastle office was broken into late last week, and computers containing important records were taken.

Newcastle City Council is the firm's biggest creditor and is owed at least£330,000. The council was hoping to use records held at the Gaults office to determine exactly how much it is owed.

Newcastle now faces establishing whether debtors who claim to have paid up in full to Gaults have done so. One source said this could amount to 800 hours of work.

Gaults' five biggest council creditors - Newcastle, Manchester City Council, North Tyneside MBC, South Derbyshire DC and Lambeth LBC - will now push the case for bankruptcy proceedings to against Gaults and Mr Pearce.

Last month they rejected a voluntary arrangement tabled by Mr Pearce in which he offered less than 10p in the pound to creditors.

Illegitimi non carborundum

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HUNT FOR BAILIFF BOSS OVER MISSING CASH

 

25 May, 2000

Police are trying to trace the boss of bailiffs Gaults after it emerged that his firm owes at least 47 councils a t...

Police are trying to trace the boss of bailiffs Gaults after it emerged that his firm owes at least 47 councils a total of more than£1.3m.

Gaults' biggest council creditor is Newcastle City Council, which is owed a total of more than£330,000. The council, along with four other major creditors, is keen to pursue bankruptcy proceedings against the company and its principal partner Martin Pearce.

But Mr Pearce cannot be contacted at present. Gaults' head office in Beckenham, Kent, is understood to have closed down last Friday.

The huge debts arose as a result of the bailiffs failing to pass on monies collected on behalf of the councils.

Earlier this month, Mr Pearce offered council creditors less than 10p in the pound on the amounts owed - an offer that was rejected.

Dave Nichols, deputy treasurer at Manchester City Council, which is owed£258,000,

said his authority called in the police after the extent of the problem emerged and Mr Pearce made his offer.

Mr Nichols said the level of the debt came as a surprise: 'There were no indications anything was amiss because we were still getting regular payments from Gaults . . . Debt recovery is not a business you expect to go bump, especially an established firm like Gaults.'

He said another problem was that debtors were now claiming they had paid Gaults in full.

Jonathan Parker, Newcastle's general manager for central services, said his council had written to all its debtors telling them not to make any payments to Gaults, but many were claiming they had already settled debts in full.

Mr Parker added: 'We're examining all possible courses of action. We'll be actively seeking to determine what's gone wrong with Gaults.'

The firm's founding partner, Bill Gault, who retired five years ago and has no involvement with the company's current problems, also claims to be owed a substantial sum by Mr Pearce.

Mr Gault told LGC he was owed around£500,000 under an arrangement that involved Mr Pearce buying the firm from him through a series of pension-style payments. Mr Gault said he was now forced to live off disability living allowance.

Gaults' top 10 council creditors

Newcastle City Council£330,483

Manchester City Council£257,905

North Tyneside MBC£127,100

South Derbyshire DC£62,849

Lambeth LBC£56,272

Harrow LBC£54,389

Dover DC£47,757

Blackpool BC£42,209

Swale BC£37,743

Hertsmere BC£37,181

Illegitimi non carborundum

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According to online reports Gaults & Co were accused in 2000 about some missing monies that they had collected on behalf of councils. There are no further reports online about this, so appears that the matter was not taken any further.

 

Cannot find any court ruling that helps with community charge arrears.

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If challenged to the LGO, the LA would need to demonstrate that since the 1990's they have made attempts to collect this debt. How they could do this would be VERY interesting indeed and could be seen as an abuse of legal process.

 

 

Furthermore, THREE YEARS is the maximum period in which a committal postponement can run ( R v Newcastle Upon Tyne Justices ex parte Devine (Queens Bench Division) 1998. Orders requiring more than 3 years to pay became irrecoverable.

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If I were the OP, I would write back to the council saying that they had no intention of making any payment at this late stage and that they would like the LGO to review the matter.

We could do with some help from you.

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This is so helpful guys. Thank you so much! Got another letter from bailiffs despite the account being subject to a formal complaint at Stage 1. Wrote back to my councillor who bounced it straight to the council and got a reply - not apologising, of course - but confirming they will keep the bailiffs at bay and it's being escalated to Stage 2 as we speak.

Also contacted magistrates courts to ask if they have copies of these LO's issued back in the early 90's and the guy at court just laughed and even he was staggered when I told him why I was asking.

The pieces about Gaults are very interesting as well as I'm pretty sure the council have referred my account to them at one point...

Happy to go to LGO but am I right in thinking I need to exhaust their internal complaints procedure first. Also going to see my MP soon so going to bring it up with her! Thanks so much for all your advice, it's much appreciated!

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Yes you have to exhaust the councils complaints process, before the LGO will get involved.

 

As well as your MP, also get Citizens Advice involved, as they were investigating this issue with Liverpool council a few years back.

We could do with some help from you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all, bit of an update. Been complaining via my local councillor who has been very promptly forwarding my e-mails to the relevant department at the council. To be fair, by going though him, I've had replies much faster than going it alone so would recommend this course of action to others!

Got to stage 1 and they basically just said they had a right to collect it, I owed it and that was that. I replied saying that I was confident I had paid it, they had made errors in the past in applying council tax payments to my account etc and that it was wrong that I didn't have a chance to defend myself against their accusation.

Got a reply today saying that they had records showing I had only paid up until a certain date, they were confident this would stand up in court, but "as a gesture of goodwill" and considering the "small amount", they would waive the debt and recall from the bailiffs!

Keeping copy of this e-mail in a locked bank vault for next 22 years!

So, am happy with outcome personally but have written back to councillor asking him to refer matter to MP and try and get some kind of ruling on the matter once and for all.

Thanks for all your advice guys and will keep you posted if any further news! :whoo:

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Ì am surprised that the council even bothered to pursue this but delighted to hear that FINALLY...common sense has prevailed !!

 

You can now leave your windows open without the worry that a bailiff may visit.

 

WELL DONE !!

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