Committal proceedings for unpaid Council Tax
If we're unable to collect an amount of outstanding Council Tax, for which a Court Order (liability order) has been issued by the Magistrates' Court using other recovery methods, including the use of Enforcement Agents, then Council may apply to the Magistrates' Court for the issue of a Warrant of Commitment.
The Magistrates' Court will issue a Committal Summons requiring you to appear before the court, in order to enable an enquiry to be made regarding your means and whether your failure to pay is due to either your wilful refusal or culpable neglect.
Committal summons advice
If you receive a committal summons you should:
- Contact us immediately
- Seek legal advice (from either a solicitor or a local advice agency) before your hearing
- Swindon Citizens Advice website
- The Legal Services Commission website
- The Law Society website
The court hearing
The court will want to know about your current income and expenses.
You will need to provide evidence, including copies of wage slips and bills to confirm the details you provide.
You will also need to tell the court about your income, expenses and employment for each period for which you have been summonsed.
The court will decide if your failure to pay the Council Tax is due to either your wilful refusal or culpable neglect.
If the court does decide this, it can make these orders against you:
- Send you to prison for a period of not more than three months
- Send you to prison for a period of not more than three months but postpone this on condition that you make a payment or regular payments
- Refuse to send you to prison
- Write off all or part of the arrears
If you have not paid the total sum due to the Council before the date of the hearing and you fail to appear before the court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Avoiding going to court
If you agree to pay the outstanding Council Tax for which you have been summonsed, plus any additional Council Tax arrears not included in the proceedings, we might agree to adjourn your case to monitor your payments, or withdraw the summons.
Acceptable actions to bring this about include:
- Payment in full including costs
- Monthly payments via Direct Debit
- Declaration of your employment details, to enable us to collect your Council Tax by an Attachment of Earnings
These are very serious matters. Do not ignore a Committal Summons. If you are served with one, or you require further information, then please contact us.
Remember it might be possible to sort out payment of your Council Tax arrears without you having to attend the Magistrates' Court.