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Summoned for Council Tax Arrears...?

By time_2_think  |  Posted: October 31, 2012

Every householder has the right to attend the hearing – Article 6 of the Human Rights Act

Every householder has the right to attend the hearing – Article 6 of the Human Rights Act

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It's approaching that time again when Cornwall Council next apply to the Magistrates' court for Council Tax liability orders.

This is only one of several applications made to the court each year. These are necessary to obtain legal paperwork enabling recovery staff to pursue struggling council taxpayers for arrears.

Once an order is granted, a number of options are available to enforce payment including bailiffs, attachment of earnings or benefits, bankruptcy and committal to jail.

Already, householders will have accrued £35 costs. The Summons comprises a court fee and the authority's administration costs. The court's fee is £3 for each application whether or not Magistrates grant the order, which If obtained costs residents a further £20.

Last year saw 21,313 account payers summoned to appear at the Magistrates' court, where 14,982 liability orders were granted. This means at £35 for each summons and £20 for a liability order, the costs raised by the council totalled more than £1.04 million – an average £87,133 a month.

An application for an award of costs is made at each court hearing for the Benches consideration. Though in practice they have already been decided and a demand made around two weeks in advance of the scheduled court date.

Whilst the authority will have notified the Clerk to the Justices of these costs, the court may wish to be satisfied that the amount claimed by way of costs in any individual case is no more than that reasonably incurred by the authority, so although these costs have been predetermined they can be challenged in court.

Every householder has the right to attend the hearing and appear before Magistrates in accordance with Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the Human Rights Act 1998.

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  • takingTbait  |  November 07 2012, 3:14PM

    Questions & Answers

  • takingTbait  |  November 07 2012, 3:13PM

    Have you got what it takes to become a Magistrate? Questions & Answers Q1. I've been told I can become a Magistrate without any qualifications or legal training, is this true? A. Absolutely! As a Magistrate you'll not be required to involve yourself in any aspect of the law. Q2. I'm worried that my lack of legal knowledge will cause me to make a wrong decision, how can I be reassured that I won't? A. You will not make wrong decisions. You will be given clear instructions of how you are to determine the case in advance of the hearing. Your job is to appear like you're considering the evidence. You will be effectively playing a role in a theatre production. Q.3 I'm concerned that I may be required to deliver a guilty verdict when the defendant is so obviously innocent. How would I convince attendees in the courtroom that the process is fair and just. A. As a trainee Magistrate you would have plenty of opportunities to gain experience in this area. You would be assigned a mentor who would accompany you on many cases before you were allowed to go solo. Q4. I would love to become a Magistrate just to have the JP suffix after my name. But I consider having to sit on serious cases far too big a price to pay for this. What is the most serious trial a Magistrate gets involved in? A. You will normally only get involved with minor offences which entail bulk processing like TV licences, Council Tax liability orders or in instances where motorists forget to submit details to the DVLA. Q5. I understand that in all Magistrate court cases the verdict has all ready been determined before the hearing. Why is the charade necessary (the court's involvement) when there is no decision to be made? A. You are quite correct. It is all a charade, but there are procedures laid down in law which need to be followed. As a Magistrate your function will normally be to attend for "conveyor style" prosecutions, where secondary legislation has been devised for the purpose of processing defendants in bulk – guaranteeing a healthy revenue source from the process.

  • JP_stitch_up  |  November 02 2012, 6:58PM

    by stander, "You can often make arrangements with councils to have these actions reversed." Though it is uncertain whether they are legally allowed to do this: http://tinyurl.com/d6n9a97

  • Truro_England  |  November 02 2012, 11:01AM

    Around 2006 when i was living with my daughters mum and our daughter was only 3 at the time, we was renting privately in Truro and I was working on min wage. We was claiming council tax benefit where i had to take pay slips to the council in pydar street for them to stamp and photo copy and work out what we could get! Any way about 1 year later i had a bil sent saying they had worked it all out wrong and i owed them around £700!! They wanted the whole lot at once so i offered £40 a month, the council said no! After a few months they took me to court and the judge said I could pay the £40 a month.. So after all that asking me to pay for there mistakes and i offering them £40 a month re pay they took me to court at tax payers cost only for the judge to offer what i did in the first place..

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  • stander  |  November 01 2012, 1:38PM

    "Already, householders will have accrued £35 costs. The Summons comprises a court fee and the authority's administration costs. The court's fee is £3 for each application whether or not Magistrates grant the order, which If obtained costs residents a further £20. You can often make arrangements with councils to have these actions reversed. Enquire with the council and see if their Debt Management Policies detail any concessions. For example, switching to Direct Debit. Many councils will reinstate instalments if they've been withdrawn, waive the summons costs and agree not to apply for a liability order. The conditions are normally, that you pay by direct debit and bring your account up to date. This could be a way out of paying these costs and avoiding the bailiffs (or worse).

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  • how_v_dare_u  |  November 01 2012, 9:19AM

    "Maybe you should of replaced struggling with the word peasent" Yes! Much more fitting. We don't want to give any of the working poor an opportunity of rise above their station. Carry on picking their pockets, that should keep them in their place.

  • barrtribe  |  November 01 2012, 12:32AM

    Dont now why things like council tax are not taken at source before the person gets paid or receive benefit. We all have to pay so that way there would be no arrears, no added costs to councils for recovery. Therefore council tax losses would be zero so we can all pay a little less.

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  • eu_blues  |  October 31 2012, 9:26PM

    This is only one of several applications made to the court each year. These are necessary to obtain legal paperwork enabling recovery staff to pursue struggling council taxpayers for arrears. Time_to_Think Maybe you should of replaced struggling with the word peasent.

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