Reminders and summonses

It’s important to pay your Council Tax bill on time.

If you don’t, we will send you reminders and finally a court summons to obtain the money we are owed.

Reminders

If a payment is not received within 7 days we can send you a reminder letter asking you to bring the account up to date, including paying the next instalment.

If the amount on the reminder letter is not paid within 7 days, the whole outstanding amount for the year becomes payable.

You then have a further 7 days to pay off the whole outstanding annual amount before a summons may be issued.

Important note

If you receive two reminder letters in a year you will be issued with a final reminder for the full outstanding annual amount.

Summonses

If the whole amount owed for the year is not received after the second period of 7 days following the reminder letter, a magistrates’ court summons may be issued. The cost of the summons (currently £74) is added to the outstanding Council Tax debt.

The summons will give you a date for a hearing. If you want to talk to us about your account, please contact us before the hearing date.

You can still pay your bill after receiving a summons. If you are paying in full, you should pay the whole amount plus any outstanding court costs. If you are paying a smaller amount, we can take the payment but should also discuss an arrangement.

On the hearing date we will ask the court to issue a liability order unless the whole of the amount due (including any outstanding court costs) has been paid. A liability order is a legal document confirming that further recovery action can be taken.

If you cannot afford to pay

If you agree that you owe the amount shown on your summons, but can’t afford to pay it back, contact us to arrange a repayment plan.

If you disagree with the summons

You are not likely to succeed in challenging the summons unless:

  • The sum has not been requested from you in accordance with the law. For example, we did not send you a bill and a reminder before the summons.
  • You do not owe any Council Tax for the period stated. For example, you have paid in full or are not liable for it.

If you disagree that you owe the amount shown on the summons for any reason, contact us before the hearing to discuss the matter.

Attending court

You have the right to attend your court hearing, but you only need to go if you do not agree that you owe the  amount shown on the summons.

Venue for court hearings

Council Tax and Business Rates court hearings are held at:

Liability Order Hearings

Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court
176a Lavender Hill
Battersea
London
SW11 1JU

Telephone: 020 7805 1447

There is no public parking at Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court. The most direct route is by train to Clapham Junction.

Get directions

Committal (Means Enquiry) Hearings

From 1 April 2014 hearings will be held at

The Court House
Alexandra Road
Wimbledon
London
SW19 7JP

Telephone: 020 8946 8622

Get directions

When you arrive at court, report to the usher who will show you into court. Council officers will also be available to answer your queries.

What happens at court

The magistrates can only consider whether or not you owe the balance shown on the summons. If the court is satisfied you do, the magistrates will grant a liability order.

The cost of the liability order (currently £26.50) will be added to the outstanding Council Tax debt. The magistrates will also order you to pay court costs.

Magistrates’ court action will not affect your credit rating.

Further recovery

When a liability order has been issued, we have the power to:

  • take what you owe directly from your earnings, Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance (Income Based).
  • ask bailiffs to make a payment arrangement with you, or if this fails, to take some of your valuables and sell them to pay off what you owe. The bailiffs are allowed to charge you extra fees on top of what you owe the Council.
  • make you bankrupt.

Independent advice

The local Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) offer debt counselling and free legal advice.

Effect on credit rating

Magistrates’ court action will not automatically affect your credit rating.

The law does not allow the court or the Council to discuss this action with anybody else.

A credit company could send a representative to the court on the day of the hearing to copy the listing that is on public display. This is very unlikely as there could be up to 3,000 names on the court hearing list.

Updated: 17 March 2014