If you are sent a summons you will also have to pay additional summons costs. However we will take no further action if the outstanding charge and costs are paid before the hearing.
However if payment is not received then we will seek a Liability Order. This allows us to take other legal proceedings to recover the outstanding balance if an arrangement isn’t made, such as:
- Referring your account to an enforcement agency
- Applying for your bankruptcy/liquidation
- Applying for you to be sent to prison
Further costs may be incurred if any of these actions are taken.
Do I have to attend court?
You do not have to attend court: -
- If you do not dispute that you owe the amount due.
- If the total amount due, including costs is paid before the date of the hearing.
If you are unable to pay the full amount on the summons?
If you are having difficulty paying the full payment, you must contact us as soon as possible with your proposed payment arrangement by completing the online payment arrangement form found in the Do it online section of this web page.
All payment arrangements must be made with the agreement of the Council and can only be accepted by Direct Debit, that way we can enter a formal arrangement on your account and make sure that no further action is taken as long as you keep to the agreed payment arrangement.
The Council will still apply for a Liability Order but undertake not to take any further proceedings if you make the payments as agreed.
What if I dispute the debt?
- If you dispute that you owe the amount due or that you are responsible for the property contact the Council immediately.
- The Council will attempt to resolve any dispute before the court hearing date. If the dispute cannot be resolved, your right to ask the Magistrates to consider your case is unaffected.
If you want to attend the court hearing, the Magistrate will ask if you have a valid defence which will stop a liability order being granted.
The most common defences that the Magistrate will take into account are:
- You have paid you bill, including summons costs
- You are not responsible for the premises during the period you have been summonsed for
- Bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings have commenced
- The application for the liability order was made more than six years after the first demand notice was issued
If any of the above apply to you, it is very important that you contact the Business Rates team prior to the court hearing to try to resolve the matter before appearing before the Magistrates.
The Magistrate will not consider issues such as outstanding valuation appeals or your ability to pay.
If we pass your case to our enforcement agency, a £75 fee will be added to your account immediately.
You should contact the enforcement agency straight away to discuss payment arrangements to avoid further fees being added to your account.
If you don’t, an enforcement agent will visit you to remove goods to cover the amount you owe and an additional £235 enforcement fee will be added to your account, plus 7.5% of any balance owed over £1,500.
You can make a payment arrangement with the enforcement agent at any stage, but you must sign the controlled goods agreement.
If you don’t keep up your payments, they can remove goods and will charge an additional fee of £110 plus 7.5% of any balance owed over £1,500 - plus reasonable storage and auctioneer fees.
If you make payments to us after your case has been passed to the enforcement agency, your case will remain open with them and they’ll proceed as normal for the remaining balance, including their fees.
Once your case has been passed to the bailiff, it will remain with them until the full debt is cleared.
This course of action can add substantial costs to your account. To avoid this, contact us before the court hearing.