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Council refused payment offer & taking me court tomorrow

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Hi everyone, hoping someone can give me some advice.

 

Basically I owe CT from 2009 (£1200) - I was fighting it but in July last year my baby daughter died and I didnt bother answering any letters or anything and the court ruled that I have to pay it.

After my daughter died I didnt got to work didnt pay any bills, I lost my house and now live with my parents.

I went back to work in November 2012 and started to try to get my finances into some kind of order.

I was paying the council £20 a month for this as it was all I can afford. It wasnt an arrangement it was just what I was paying.

The council wanted more but I couldnt afford it, I have gotten myself into such a huge mess financially I am paying companies left right and centre and I am thousands and thousands of pounds in the red.

As the council kept sending me letters I contacted them by email stating I could only afford £20 a month due to all my financial obligations. I was sent an income and expenditure form that I filled in and sent back along with a bank statement and pay slip.

A week later I still waiting to hear back when I received a court summons, I again contacted them asking why when I had sent my forms like they requested.

I received an email stating the lady dealing with my case is on holiday and will contact me when she returns.

She did so saying £20 is not enough and the court case will go ahead as by my payslip amount (£1033) they will be able to take 12% of this which is £123 a month.

I spoke to my dad who said he didnt want me going to court and he said he would drop my rent by £60 a month so I could get it paid.

I wrote back basically telling them that they have not 1 bit looked into my case on an individual basis and surely the court would look into all my other finances I am paying and surely would not agree to them taking £123 out of my wages every month.

Then I said about my dads offer and said I can pay £80 a month so long as they didnt proceed with the court case.

I got an email today from them stating they will not accept £80 a month as I have offered and she has informed the court officer I will be there tomorrow for court.

I just dont know what to do. It seems I am going to court tomorrow to have them attach my wages and take £123 a month off me.

I have just sorted all my finances out and made deals with all my creditors and everything and now the council are going to ruin this and I am going to be back to where I was when I first went back to work.

I honestly thought they would accept £80 a month as to me that seems quite high, I read so much about people offering such lower amounts and they are accepted.

What am I going to do?

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Im so sorry for your loss, it must have been a very hard time for you.

 

Your query has been flagged with the site team so that we may be of some help.

 

Unfortunately this is not my field, however I am sure the court will have a chance to see your I & E and will hopefully agree that this is an affordable amount to repay.

 

Try and take some one with you to court, you will be given a chance to speak and have your say.

 

Unfortunately Council tax is a priority debt and one that should be paid within a reasonable time scale. Im sure you are quite aware of this though.

 

Have you also checked with the council that this is the correct amount that you owe. While you were not working were you in receipt of any benefits. Can you prove that your income was low or nil, this may help bring the accrued debt down.

 

Im so sorry that I cannot help further, but I am sure some one with more knowledge in this matter will be here shortly.

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All you can do at this late stage is go to court and take all your paperwork with you showing how much you get and how much you have to pay out each month and why you cannot pay any more than you have offered.If you have made arrangements with other creditors and these are being paid regularly, this will all be to the good and you can point to these as examples of how you are being reasonable and paying your way.A half decent judge will assess all of this and will make a decision based on the facts you present, not on what the council wants.It seems unfair for the Council to insist that they take priority when you have obviously tried to be fair to all your creditors.

 

When you get to the court find out where the clerk is and make yourself known to him/her, they need to cross you off the list as having turned up. If you can get a summary of your debts and payments onto a single piece of paper and give this into the clerk to the court before the hearing it can be put in front of the judge as extra info, with any luck the judge will look at it before the hearing and will form a view.

 

Give a copy to the council solicitor as well, because they are entitled to disclosure of what you want to put in front of the court. The council solicitor will usually make themselves known to you in the waiting area. They may even want to talk to you about making a deal before you go in. If you are sure about your figures then stick to your guns, do not be bullied by these people. They have decided to drag you there, so it is up to them to come up with a good reason why your offer was not good enough.

 

Reherse your arguments about why you cannot pay any more than you have offered (make notes and refer to them), be very polite to the other side and only speak to the judge when he/she addresses you directly (call him Sir/Madam - you would be surprised how far common courtesy will take you in these situations). Do not worry about going in and not knowing what to do, the judge will help you as you are a layman and do not have a solicitor. If in doubt say you do not understand and are not used to court rooms, they are supposed to guide you in these circumstances.

 

If, at the end, the council solicitor asks for costs against you, point out that you tried to negotiate with them but they refused. Hopefully the judge will think they have been a bit hasty and won't give them any leeway. In the happy event that you are told you can get costs against the council, you can ask for £50 for your lost day from work plus your travel costs.

 

This may not happen but it is worth working out what these are just in case you get lucky.I hope you get a judge with some common sense. Good Luck.

Edited by citizenB

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Will I even get to see a judge? I was told I would basically be seen by a council representative in the waiting area of the court and thats it. I have asked around and everyone I have spoken has said I dont even need to turn up because it just a formality the council are doing to get a thing to say I definitely owe the money.

 

The email I received from the council even said '' It is not the magistrates responsibility to consider or discuss repayment plans with you''.

I'm so confused.

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....Hopefully the judge will think they have been a bit hasty and won't give them any leeway. In the happy event that you are told you can get costs against the council, you can ask for £50 for your lost day from work plus your travel costs. This may not happen but it is worth working out what these are just in case you get lucky.I hope you get a judge with some common sense. Good Luck.

 

 

Here's your reference for costs; Section 64(1)(b) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980.

 

 

64 Power to award costs and enforcement of costs.

 

(1) On the hearing of a complaint, a magistrates’ court shall have power in its discretion to make such order as to costs—

(a) on making the order for which the complaint is made, to be paid by the defendant to the complainant;

 

(
b
) on dismissing the complaint, to be paid by the complainant to the defendant,

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Will I even get to see a judge? I was told I would basically be seen by a council representative in the waiting area of the court and thats it. I have asked around and everyone I have spoken has said I dont even need to turn up because it just a formality the council are doing to get a thing to say I definitely owe the money.

 

The email I received from the council even said '' It is not the magistrates responsibility to consider or discuss repayment plans with you''.

I'm so confused.

 

 

You have a right to appear before Magistrates in the courtroom. Regulation 34(2) of the Council Tax Regulations provides an argument that this is required in law.

 

 

Application for liability order

 

34.—

 

(2) The application is to be instituted by making complaint to a justice of the peace, and requesting the issue of a summons directed to that person to appear before the court to show why he has not paid the sum which is outstanding

 

 

 

If need be, reinforce your argument and cite "R v Coventry Justices ex p Bullard [1992] RA 79"

 

Read page 4, under heading: Address to the court on inadequate means

Edited by outlawla

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An Attachment of Earnings is one of a raft of measures the Council can use to enforce payments and probably see it as a better course of action - for them - to have repayments made. The rates are set as to what they can take. As for your other debts Council Tax is classed as a priority and they would expect if you have Credit Cards etc to be dropped to as little as £1 per month until such time your CT is paid off. If you do have other debts it may pay you to have a Common Financial Statement done to which you could go back to Court and see if the AoE can either be dropped or amended.


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