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 this hearing 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 will will detail an automatic payment arrangement for the balance including costs. We will still request a liability order from the Magistrates Court but no further action will be taken if you keep to the agreed payments detailed on the summons.
If you pay the full amount shown (including costs) before the hearing date you do not need to attend court or tell the council, and no further action will be taken.
You do not need to attend court if you have agreed a payment arrangement or paid the balance in full.
On the date of the hearing the magistrates will be asked to grant a liability order against you which will allow us to collect the outstanding amount from you by:
- 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
After the court hearing we will write to you confirming the magistrates have granted a liability order and what you need to do next.
Disputing a summons
If you disagree with the issue of the summons, you must contact us clearly detailing your reasons, but please bear in mind 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.
Please do not ignore the summons as this will lead to further action being taken against you and further costs being added to the amount you owe.