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Summons and liability order

If you don’t pay your Council Tax after you have been reminded by a reminder notice or final notice, we make a complaint to the magistrates court, and a summons is issued.

What you should do if you receive a summons

Please pay the amount of Council Tax that you owe in full, including costs as shown on the summons. If you do this your case will not be heard and the council will not apply for a liability order. 

If you are unable to make payment in full and wish to make a payment arrangement, please fill in the payment arrangement form. We will still apply for a liability order, but as long as you keep to the arrangement you have made, no further action will be taken.

What is a summons?

A summons is a court document telling you the date and time that the magistrates will consider whether they should issue a liability order against you, and where the hearing will take place.

It will also tell you the total amount of Council Tax that you owe, the period of time it refers to, and the costs you will have to pay.

What is a liability order?

A liability order is a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe, plus costs of £110.

It gives the council greater powers to collect the money you owe using a range of actions which include:

The liability order allows us to do any of these, but only one at a time. We will ask you for information about your personal and financial situation before we consider these options.

Do I need to go to the court hearing?

You don’t need to go to the court hearing unless you have a legal defence against the issue of a liability order. The magistrates will hear the case whether you attend or not. We are able to deal with any other concerns or queries you may have with you directly. You don’t need to attend, however you may do so if you wish.

If you are thinking about going to court, please contact us first to see if we can help you.

The magistrates can only listen to a valid defence against the issue of a liability order. Some common defences are: 

  • the property is not entered in the appropriate valuation list 
  • the Council Tax has not been properly set 
  • the Council Tax has not been billed in accordance with the legislation 
  • the amount demanded has been paid in full (including summons costs) 
  • more than six years have passed since the balance became due
  • bankruptcy proceedings have been started
  • you are not the person who is liable to pay the Council Tax that you have been summonsed for

It is not a valid defence against the issue of a liability order and you should not attend court if: 

  • you can’t afford to pay the amount owed in full 
  • you would like time to pay or have difficulty paying 
  • you want to make a payment arrangement
  • you have applied for Council Tax Support and have not heard anything
  • your Council Tax Support is incorrect
  • you are appealing against a decision for Council Tax Support entitlement
  • you have appealed to the council or the Valuation Office Agency about the amount of your Council Tax or your property band.

Where and when are the hearings held?

All Council Tax liability order hearings are held at Canterbury Magistrates Court. Please see your summons for the date of the hearing.

Having difficulty paying your Council Tax?

If you are having difficulty paying your Council Tax at any time, please contact us for advice as soon as possible.

Contact us if you receive a summons, before the hearing date if you can. We can discuss the best way to collect what is owed, and try to set up a payment arrangement that is best for you.

If you don’t get in touch with us we will have to decide what to do without discussing with you. We would prefer to help you to pay in a way that suits both of us, and not have to make decisions without knowing your full and individual circumstances. 

Contact Council Tax

Email: council.tax@dover.gov.uk

Phone: 01304 872199

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