If you owe business rates and have not paid what has been requested on a reminder or final notice, we will take action to recover the outstanding money. This will involve the issue of a Magistrates’ Court summons. This is a court document informing you of the date and time a liability order hearing is to be scheduled. At the hearing, which will be conducted remotely by telephone, a representative of the council will request that the magistrates’ court grant a liability order against you for non-payment of business rates.
The summons will show clearly the amount the council say you owe, including costs of £127.50. It also will detail a proposed payment arrangement for the balance including costs. If you decide to pay the proposed payment arrangement, a liability order will still be requested from the Magistrates Court, however, no further action will be taken if you keep to the payments as detailed on the summons.
If you wish to discuss the summons you should contact the Council by 12 noon the day before the hearing on telephone: 01254 588155 between the hours of 10am and 3pm.
Attendance at Court hearings
All liability order hearings are now carried out remotely by telephone. You should not attend the court hearing in person, unless this has been pre-arranged with the council and the court. Guidance on joining the court hearing is included in the letter which accompanies the summons.
You do not need to attend the remote court hearing if you have accepted the proposed payment arrangement, agreed an alternative arrangement or have paid the balance in full including costs.
On the date of the hearing the magistrates will be asked to grant a liability order against you which will allow us to take further action to recover the amount owed.
If you wish to dispute the Summons because you believe you have a valid defence against it, you should contact us immediately.
Disputing a summons
If you disagree with the issue of the summons, you must contact us clearly detailing your reasons, but please be aware that disputing the summons because you have paid late or are awaiting the decision of an appeal against liability or rateable value is not grounds for a summons to be cancelled.
If you wish to discuss a summons you should contact the Council by 12 noon the day before the hearing on telephone: 01254 588155 between the hours of 10am and 3pm.
A liability order will be granted by the Magistrates if they are satisfied that the amount remains unpaid. A liability order allows the council to take the following recovery action to recover outstanding Business Rates:
- Enforcement agent visits: We can collect the outstanding debt by sending an Enforcement Agent, formerly known as a Bailiff, to your property. The agent will be instructed to remove goods to the value of the debt. If an enforcement agent is instructed, it will cost you £75. If the agent then visits your property, you'll be charged a further £235 plus 7.5% of any balance above £1,500. If goods are taken, these will be sold at auction, and you'll have to pay additional fees for this
- Insolvency proceedings: This action would seek to wind up your company and put it into liquidation, or make you bankrupt if you are a sole trader.
- Committal: If the enforcement agent has been unable to find enough goods to pay off the debt, gain entry to your property, or agree a suitable payment arrangement, we may apply to the magistrates' court for your committal to prison. If found guilty, you can be sent to prison for up to three months. This process can involve significant costs, which will be added to the amount you have to pay
Some of these recovery actions may increase the amount you owe by adding costs, to avoid any additional costs you should make arrangements with us to pay as soon as possible.
Please do not ignore a summons or a liability order as this will lead to further action being taken against you and further costs being added to the amount you owe.