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Council Tax

Requested on
Wed 3rd October, 2012
Reference
FOI 2242
Resolution
Information provided

Question

1. Please supply me with information that justifies Charnwood
Borough Council (CBC) issuing its own council tax Summonses,
despite the following legislation clearly stating that it's the
court who should send out these documents.

MAGISTRATES’ COURTS ACT 1980 Part II

Civil Jurisdiction and Procedure

Jurisdiction to issue summons and deal with complaints

51- Issue of summons on complaint

Where a complaint relating to a person is made to a justice of the
peace, the justice of the peace may issue a summons to the person
requiring him to appear before a magistrates' court to answer to
the complaint.

THE COUNCIL TAX (ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT REGULATIONS 1992

PART VI – ENFORCEMENT

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.

Please also supply information as to why CBC are not following
their own constitution by allowing a scanned signature upon the
said summonses.

Please supply me with information as to the facts that CBC are on
the list of consultees from Hmcts.

Please supply me with the details of payments made the Leicester
Magistrates' Court to hold administrative processes for non payment
of Council tax for year 2011 to 2012.

Please supply me with the information as to the nature of the claim
CBC presents to the court, is it a private or public case?

Answer

1. Summonses are produced by the Council and issued from the Council offices, on behalf of the Magistrates Court. The summons is a Court document which may only be issued with the authority of the Court. 

2. The summons is a Court document, not a Council document.

3. As a Court user, the Council is entitled to take part in the users’ forum.

4. The Council pays the Court £3.00 for each summons issued.

5. The hearing is public. Anyone is entitled to enter the Court and witness proceedings (subject to exclusion by order of the Magistrates).

Second Response:
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities.
If a member of the public asks for information, an organisation only has to provide that information if it already has it in recorded form. The organisation does not have to create new information.

Our responses to your questions are set out below:

Question 1& 2. If the summonses issued by CBC are Official Court documents why do they not have a valid case number, or appear in  the Courts Diary of the day. Please do not direct me to the Magistrates' Court for an answer, I have been in contract with HMCTS, they say "Local Authorities, like many other claimants in civil proceedings and prosecutors in criminal proceedings are required to prepare their own legal documents to instigate proceedings. These are then considered by the court and issued (approved) if the requirements for issue have been satisfied. The onus is then on the Local Authority to ensure that the documents are correctly served prior to the hearing". When CBC issues a Liability order, is it then a properly Executed Warrant, signed by a Judge, with court seal and therefore authorised by the Court, in order for CBC to send privately employed bailiffs to enter someone’s home to cease goods?
No information held in addition to the response provided by HMCTS

Question 3. As the public are Court users, are the also able to use the users' forum?
No information held

Question 4 This question does not refer to the cost of a summons, it refers to all payments, including credit card payments made to Leicester Magistrates' Court, could you also include the same information for Loughborough Magistrates' Court, any other payments for legal expenses and the reasons for these payments. Include 2011/12 and to date.
Please could you clarify whether you are requesting information which just relates to Council Tax, or for the Council as a whole?

Question 5 refers to the process CBC use, if it was a civil matter would CBC not issue claims through Civil Court? Do CBC use a Private Prosecution for criminal proceeding, and is non payment of Council Tax considered a criminal act?
Non payment of Council Tax results in the council making a civil claim

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