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Local Authorities chasing council tax debts from 18 years ago !!!


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I am very interested indeed to read this story today on SCOOP concerning Burnley Council who are sending demand notices for alleged council tax dating back to 1997.

 

The article states that with minimum details to back up their claims, home owners, including landlords, are being sent claim notices for the first time and expected to trawl through past records over many years to identify if these claims are still valid.

 

I think that this could be a bigger problem because yesterday, I spoke with a gentleman who has received correspondence at his current address from a bailiff company (no names at present) for a Liability Order that was ISSUED 20 years ago (1995). The debtor moved from the marital home that same year and his ex wife continued to live in the house for 3 years until they divorced in 1998. Yesterday was the first time that he was made aware that a LO had been issued.

 

What is more worrying is that the day before (Wednesday) I spoke with a lady with a similar problem regarding a Liability Order from 1996 (19 years ago). This one being with a different local authority.

 

With both of the above cases, they have received letters from bailiff companies. Interestingly, both letters are not Notice of Enforcements but do state that non payment will lead to a further letter being sent with a fee of £75 being applied and that recovery will be by way of the procedures outlined in Schedule 12 of TCE 2007.

 

http://www.burnleyexpress.net/news/letters/home-owners-receive-council-tax-demand-from-1997-1-7160003

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Can of worms BA, the councils are desperate for revenue, so will chance their arm and send out the bailiffs, relying on the fact Council Tax, and indeed Poll Tax is not Statute Barred, so can enforce if they trace. Wonder how many will be a victim of a faulty trace given the age of the debt with Equita, Ross 'n Robbers etc chasing the wrong person?

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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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Good response Brassneck and I fear that this problem could get more widespread given that enforcement companies are no doubt happy to take on these 'cold cases' as they could benefit hugely from additional bailiff fees.

 

Such cases need to be looked at very carefully indeed to ascertain what bailiff fees may have been charged pre April 2014.

 

I intend speaking with the LGO on Monday regarding this subject.

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Good response Brassneck and I fear that this problem could get more widespread given that enforcement companies are no doubt happy to take on these 'cold cases' as they could benefit hugely from additional bailiff fees.

 

Such cases need to be looked at very carefully indeed to ascertain what bailiff fees may have been charged pre April 2014.

 

I intend speaking with the LGO on Monday regarding this subject.

 

There needs to be a close look at the whole situation, the dangers of faulty trace are too great given the timespan involved, The bailiffs won't care they are 90% likely to be chasing the wrong J Smith, who may not even have been born when the debt arose. I feel that the enforcers won't look at the persons age when they call, as in Mr Smith the debtor is 45, Mr Smith they traced answering the door is 22, they have found a J Smith to put in the frame so will enforce with extreme prejudice.

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I am surprised to hear of this happening so close to an election period. At the end of next week all local authorities will be in the 'purdah' period and bad publicity about these old debts should be avoided at this time.

 

Councils won't care, many councils have inept councillors who believe 100% bovine excrement fed to them by the Council Officers; the election is National Government, no council elections in Wales at least, don't know about England, but might be hoping to keep this low profile, and if challenged say it is their duty to collect no matter how old then debt, Legislation compels them to enforce, not our fault etc etc. One issue is many of these debtors will be dead, so again faulty trace potential.

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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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Sorry but I forgot to post the following link. Observing the 'purdah' period is vitally important for local authorities and I remembering starting a thread a year or so ago on the subject as one local authority were heavily criticised in the press for allowing their enforcement company to send out letters to debtors during purdah advising them that the council were holding 'debt' clinics where debtors could turn up to discuss their debt problems and work out ways in which to pay their council tax.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purdah_(pre-election_period)

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A timely warning I think that one should never pay these sort of things in cash but always by a traceable means like a cheque. Then you can go back as far as father time and get proof.

I would think these are a case of we can prove we have an LO but you can't prove if you paid it or not and in some cases it will be because it has not been logged or the paperwork has been lost.

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Thanks for those links BA, yes these councils could be shooting themselves in the foot, especially if a wrong Mr Smith gets one of these letters during purdah and goes to the press.

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I wonder how accurate council records are going back 20 years. They are probably using some old printed reports and have not actually got the original liablilty order paperwork. What if their records are wrong ? Most people don't keep their personal records for more than a year or so.

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I wonder how accurate council records are going back 20 years. They are probably using some old printed reports and have not actually got the original liablilty order paperwork. What if their records are wrong ? Most people don't keep their personal records for more than a year or so.

Then the council will say pay up or else.

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Then the council will say pay up or else.

 

I think all you can do is to make a complaint in writing to the council, asking them to provide documentation to prove the outstanding liability, including a copy of the liability order granted by Magistrates. Then escalate to the LGO if necessary.

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I wonder how accurate council records are going back 20 years. They are probably using some old printed reports and have not actually got the original liablilty order paperwork. What if their records are wrong ? Most people don't keep their personal records for more than a year or so.

 

Then the council will say pay up or else.

 

I think all you can do is to make a complaint in writing to the council, asking them to provide documentation to prove the outstanding liability, including a copy of the liability order granted by Magistrates. Then escalate to the LGO if necessary.

 

 

I think it should be for the council to prove unequivocally that a debt is actually owed. I am sure there must be many people who keep paperwork this far back.. but not many I would think !

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I think it should be for the council to prove unequivocally that a debt is actually owed. I am sure there must be many people who keep paperwork this far back.. but not many I would think !

 

There were some cases going back a year or so related to Liverpool council, where it was found that they had no documentary evidence of the tax being still outstanding There were some CAG threads on this and I think the West Liverpool CAB were also involved.

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If I were sent one of these demands, one of the first things I'd be doing is sending a SAR to the council to find out exactly on what they are relying. I've moved only once since 1997, twice since 1995 (if I've got my dates correct going back that far). Councils are very good at claiming you owe money, but when challenged cannot always back it up. They are accountable, and must be held to account.

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There were some cases going back a year or so related to Liverpool council, where it was found that they had no documentary evidence of the tax being still outstanding There were some CAG threads on this and I think the West Liverpool CAB were also involved.

 

I remember some of those unclebulgaria and if memory serves me correct the Council dropped quite a few when challenged to produce proof of them. Makes you wonder about those who did not protest though.

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I remember some of those unclebulgaria and if memory serves me correct the Council dropped quite a few when challenged to produce proof of them. Makes you wonder about those who did not protest though.

This could be a similar scenario as in a fishing expedition with menaces.

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