If we have not been able to collect the money in any other way, the final option is to ask the magistrates court to issue a summons for you to attend a committal hearing. This means the council will ask the magistrates to consider sending you to prison for non payment of Council Tax.
At the hearing the magistrates will decide whether you have deliberately refused or neglected to pay or what other reasons there may have been for non-payment, and this will affect their decision.
The council representative will confirm to the court that a liability order has previously been granted for the sum in question, and that it has not been possible to collect the outstanding amount.
You will be asked why the money still has not been paid, and if you are going to offer any payments.
You will also be asked about your income and your outgoings. This is called a means enquiry. You will be expected to prepare this information in advance. A form will be sent to you to help you do this. It will help the court to decide whether you are able to pay, and if so, what you can afford.
The council's representative and the magistrates may ask you some other questions, and you will have the chance to ask questions too.
The magistrates will then make their decision. They may leave the courtroom to do this. There are several decisions they can make:
If the magistrates consider that you have refused or neglected to pay they can:
- commit you to prison for a maximum of 90 days, or
- commit you to prison for a maximum of 90 days and suspend the sentence for you to pay an amount, set by the magistrates.
If the magistrates consider that you have not refused or neglected to pay, they can:
- dismiss the case, for you to make arrangements to pay, directly with the council (if an arrangement is made and then not kept to, committal proceedings can start again).
- in exceptional circumstances the magistrates may order that some or all of the arrears should not be paid. This is not a decision which is made very often but if this is decided the amount is written off.
If the magistrates need more information or evidence they may adjourn the case. The matter would then be postponed to another, future court date.
You must attend a committal hearing.
If you don't attend we will ask the magistrates to issue a warrant for your arrest, normally with bail.
This means that a warrant officer will come and arrest you, but will bail you to attend court at a later date.
When you do appear, the process will be the same as explained above; however, you must expect to explain why you ignored the previous summons when you attend.
If you miss the hearing again we will ask the magistrates to remove the bail from the warrant and this means that you will be arrested and taken straight to court.
Any warrant issued will incur further costs.
Contact Council Tax
Phone: 01304 872199