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HM Courts

& Tribunals
Service

__
.t
GRIMSBY
North East Lincolnshire
DN320QJ

Julie Collins
Courts and Tribunals Manager for
Humber & South Yorkshire
Alison Watts
Clerk to the Justices
Doncaster Magistrates' Court
PO Box 49
College Road
DONCASTER
DN13HT
OX 707680 GRIMSBY 5
T 01472 592408 (Mike Draper)
T 01472 592406 (Chris Houlden/Allison Wade)
F 01472 320440
E mike.draper@hmcts.gsLgov.uk
E chris.houlden@hmcts.gsLgov.uk
E allison.wade@hmcts.gsLgov.uk
www.justice.gov.uk/about/hmcts/index.htm

6 November 2012

Dear Mr

Our ref: G45G04/MD/AW

Council Tax Liability Order


I am writing in response to your email sent to Mr Houlden on 5 November and which
has been passed to me for a response as Mr Houlden recently left the HM Courts and
Tribunal Service.
I note your comments and in particular your intention to appeal the decision of the court
to make a Liability Order in proceedings brought against you by North East
Lincolnshire Council and determined on 2 November. To assist I ask you to note that a
Liability Order can only be challenged by an appeal to the High Court by way of either
a case stated on a point of law (which must be done within 21 days via the Magistrates
Court) or a judicial review (time limit of 3 months and via the High Court).
The procedure is quite technical and for that reason I would strongly suggest that
before proceeding you consider taking independent legal advice.
In relation to other matters referred to in your email I would ask that in the first instance
you forward any correspondence to me and I will ensure it is passed on as necessary
to appropriate members of staff.
If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours truly,

;1.[. )~~
M L DRAPER
Deputy Justices' Clerk

APPLICATION TO MAGISTRATES COURT OR CROWN COURT TO STATE A CASE


FOR AN APPEAL TO THE HIGH COURT
(Criminal Procedure Rules, rule 64.2)
Case details
Name of defendant: Mr.
Court: Grimsby Magistrates Court
Case reference number: Council Tax 5501
Charge(s): Liability Order brought by North East Lincolnshire Council

This is an application by [Mr

(name of defendant)]

[the prosecutor]
for the court to state a case for the opinion of the High Court on an appeal on a question of
law or jurisdiction.

Use this form ONLY for an application to the court to state a case for the opinion of the High Court on a
question of law or jurisdiction, under Criminal Procedure Rule 64.2. There are different forms for appealing
from a magistrates court to the Crown Court under Criminal Procedure Rules Part 63, or from the Crown Court
to the Court of Appeal under Criminal Procedure Rules Part 68.

1. Complete the boxes above and give the details required in the boxes below. If you use an
1
electronic version of this form, the boxes will expand . If you use a paper version and need more space, you
may attach extra sheets.
2. Sign and date the completed form.
3. Send a copy of the completed form to:
(a) the court, and
(b) each other party to the case.
You must send this form so as to reach the recipients not more than 21 days after the decision about which
you want to appeal to the High Court. If that decision was by a magistrates court, the court has no power
to extend that time limit.
A party who wants to make representations about this application must serve those representations under
Criminal Procedure Rule 64.2(3) not more than 14 days after service of this application.

1) Decision under appeal. Give brief details of the decision about which you want to appeal to the High
Court (including the date of that decision).
The Magistrates sitting at the Grimsby Magistrates Court on the 2nd November 2012 granted a liability order,
brought about by North East Lincolnshire Council. The matter concerned Council Tax and the liability order was
made for a proportion (60) of the Councils 70 summons costs. The level of costs were disputed at the
hearing as unreasonable.

Forms for use with the Rules are at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/criminal/formspage.

2) Question(s) for the High Court. What question(s) of law or jurisdiction do you want the court to state
for the opinion of the High Court?
The questions focus on two principle points of law with regards regulation 34 of the Council Tax regulations (SI
1992/613).
Those points being, whether
i)

costs being disputed as unreasonable should have been awarded by the court without evidence
from the council to support them.

ii)

costs specifically incurred by the council for obtaining the liability order should have been charged
at the summons issuing stage.

3) Grounds of appeal. Explain briefly why you think the decision against which you want to appeal was
wrong, and how that decision depended on the question(s) specified in box 2 above.
i) The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 provide at regulation 34 for a billing
authority to recover its reasonably incurred costs in connection with liability order applications. The costs were
disputed on the grounds that hundreds of thousands of pounds awarded would not be reasonable in respect of
a single bulk liability order, especially considering the process is largely automated. Neither can costs be
quantified in advance as they are split between however many defendants are summonsed to the court.
The councils representative offered no evidence to support its costs claim and stated that the council had
never been required to do so. Consequently, the authority could not justify their incurred expenditure.
General costs were offered verbally by the prosecuting council, including Council Tax collection and recovery,
IT systems, employment of staff and HMCTS for the use of their facilities. It was argued costs were reasonable
by commenting that they were lower than national averages for unitary authorities.
It does not specify in SI 1992/613 that defendants should subsidy the Council tax department with imposed
charges; only compensate reasonable costs incurred in connection with obtaining the liability order.
There is no provision in the legislation for costs to provide a source of revenue, nor to act as a deterrent and
incentivise payment (encourage behaviour). These are generally advantages highlighted in costs reviews
(where documented).
For example NELCs April 2001 costs review:
5. The decision to charge more in respect of Non-Domestic Rates is one which other local authorities
are taking in increasing numbers. (There are two in this region currently, Bradford and Sheffield.) The
reasoning behind this is that it is believed that some businesses deliberately delay payment of Rates
as the penalty for late payment is so small in comparison to the amount that might be owed. The extra
cost is seen as a way of encouraging prompt payment.

6. If the proposal is accepted, then based on the number of Summonses issued and Liability Orders
obtained in the current year, an extra 38,000 of additional cost income would be generated bringing
the total to approximately 390,000.

2002 increase in summons:


The report identifies ways of funding additional resources to ensure the backlog of work that has arisen
due to changes in the IT system are addressed.
RECOMMENDATIONS:
that the Council Tax summons cost be increased from 10 to 15 with immediate effect.

2011 budget and medium term financial plan:


NELC detailed in its 2011 budget proposals it would raise a forecasted additional 752,000 over 4 years by
increasing the summons cost.
It proposed to "Increase summons cost" and was listed in their budget proposals under the heading "Income
Generation" and forecasted additional revenue of 188,000 for each of the following 4 years.
Income Generation
1.52 In relation to proposed areas for charging to be introduced, 81 per cent favoured increased
charges for summonses compared to 57 per cent who supported charging for replacement bins or
garden waste collections. Only 15 per cent were not in favour of any charges being introduced.
The decision to increase charges for the summons had not been brought about by additional costs incurred by
the council. It was intended simply to plug a hole in its finances, reinforced by the proposals being put to a vote.

ii) The regulation further provides for costs to be charged in proportion with the level of recovery work done,
i.e., theres a distinction made between the summons and liability order stage of recovery and consequently
penalties should be incurred incrementally.
If overall costs had been justified, the following suggests that imposing all these at the summons issuing stage
would not be in accordance with regulation 34 to SI 1992/613.
Before a review in April 2011, summons and liability order costs were 56% and 44% of total recovery costs
respectively, which would make costs after the review (if justified) only 39 for the summons, not the 70
they're currently charging.
To demonstrate this further; 22% of costs made up the summons charge in 2001. Based on the then costs ratio
and todays figures, the summons should be around 15, of the overall 70 costs.
This highlights both charges have been arbitrarily split to advantage maximum costs income. It has been done
progressively over a period of time until the present situation where all costs are loaded to the summons.
An amendment (SI 2011/528 (W 73) which came into force on 1st April 2011 made provisions for 70 to be the
maximum costs which could be charged for obtaining a Liability Order. It further specified that this was a total
maximum, including those of instituting the application. This was apparently only in respect of Welsh
authorities, but nevertheless amending the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, as
are relevant to English councils.
This maximum equals the amount NELC currently charge for issuing a summons. Statistics show, in certain
circumstances, Welsh authorities issue annually a very small fraction of NELCs total. This maximum charge
would be reasonable only for those Welsh authorities issuing relatively low numbers of summonses, the logic
being that costs are split between fewer defendants. This should be an indication that if English regulations
were ever subject to the same amendment, NELC would have no reasonable grounds to charge up to the
maximum permissible.

4) Other applications. I am also applying for:


an extension of time for asking the court to state a case for the High Court.
You can ONLY apply for an extension of the 21 day time limit if this is an application to the Crown
Court.

pending my appeal, the suspension of a disqualification.


For example, a disqualification from driving. You can ONLY apply for the suspension of a
disqualification which the court imposed in this case.

pending my appeal, bail.


You can only apply for bail pending appeal if the court sentenced you to imprisonment or detention.

Give reasons for any of these applications you are making:

Signed2:
Date:

[defendant / defendants solicitor]


[prosecutor]
22/11/2012

If you use an electronic version of this form, you may instead authenticate it electronically (e.g. by sending it from an
email address recognisable to the recipient). See Criminal Procedure Rules, rule 5.3.

HM Courts
& Tribunals
Service

GRIMSBY
North East Lincolnshire
DN320QJ

Julie Collins
Courts and Tribunals Manager for
Humber & South Yorkshire
Alison Watts
Clerk to the Justices
Doncaster Magistrates' Court
PO Box 49
College Road
DONCASTER
DN13HT
OX 707680 GRIMSBY 5

T 01472 592408 (Mike Draper)


T 01472 592406 (Chris Houlden/Allison Wade)
F 01472 320440
E mike.draper@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
E chris.houlden@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
E allison.wade@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
www.justice.gov.uklabout/hmcts/index.htm

22 November 2012

Our ref: G47G05/MD/AW

Dear Mr (------Case Stated.


I acknowledge receipt of your application for the Magistrates to state a case in the
matter of North East Lincolnshire Council v Yourself.
Once the documentation has been considered I will contact you further.
Yours sincerely

M L DRAPER
Deputy Justices' Clerk

Mrs A Watts
Justices' Clerk for Humber & South Yorkshire
Doncaster Magistrates' Court
PO Box 49
The Law Courts
College Road
DONCASTER DN1 3HT
DX 742840 (Doncaster 20)

When calling please ask for: Karen


Crocken Direct Line: 01302347304

T: 01302 366711
F: 01302 327906
E: celine.allerton@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
karen.crocken@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Our ref: AW/KEC


Your ref:

Minicom VII: 01302 369066


www.justice.gov.uk

24 July 2013
Mr

Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire

Dear Mr
Re: North East Lincolnshire Council V
Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court - 2 November 2012
Application to State a Case
I refer to your request for the Justices to state a case for the opinion of the High Court in respect of the
above-mentioned proceedings.
Enclosed herewith is the draft case that has been prepared, together with a statement of the delay for
production of same.
May I respectfully draw to your attention that in accordance with rule 77 (2) of the Magistrates' Courts
Rules 1981 you have 21 days from receipt of the draft case to submit any written representations that you
may have upon its content.
I shall be grateful if you kindly acknowledge receipt of this correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Mrs A Watts
Justices' Clerk

Enc

In the High Court of Justice


Administrative Court
Between
Appellant
and
North East Lincolnshire Council

Respondent

Case Stated by Justices in the County of Lincolnshire, acting in


and for the Local Justice Area of Grimsby and Cleethorpes in
respect of their adjudication as a Magistrates' Court sitting at
Grimsby.

CASE

1. On 10 October 2012 a complaint was laid against the appellant


on behalf of the respondent that for the period 1 April 2012 to 31
March 2013 at Grimsby in the County of Lincolnshire he was a
person who was liable to pay the sum of 437.52, the balance of
council tax he owed arising from his occupation of
, Grimsby, and application was therefore made to the
court for a liability order to secure payment of that sum in
accordance with regulation 34 of the Council Tax (Administration
and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.
2. The court heard the complaint on 2 November 2012. The court
did not hear evidence in the matter as the appellant admitted the
following facts:a) The appellant was liable for the amount of council tax, namely
437.52, claimed against him by the respondent for the period 1
April 2012 to 31 March 2013.
b) The appellant had by the time of the court hearing paid the
sum due to the respondent in respect of the outstanding council
tax that was claimed by the respondent.

c) The appellant was liable to pay an amount in respect of the


costs of the respondent in bringing proceedings before the court
d) The claim for costs in respect of the proceedings made by the
respondent on the face of the summons served upon the appellant
was in the sum of 70.00.
e) The appellant had by the time of the hearing paid 10.00 to the
respondent in respect of the costs.
f) The appellant had not paid the full amount of the costs
requested by the respondent and did not intend so to do so.

3. The following is a short statement of the representations made


to us by the parties:a) The respondent stated that the amount of the claim for costs
was the same as that sought in all similar proceedings
commenced by the respondent, a sum which had previously been
notified to the Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court under
cover of correspondence dated 4 March 2011 for cases arising on
or after 1 April 2011.
b) The level of costs sought by the respondent did not exceed the
prescribed amount described in regulation 34(8) of the Council Tax
(Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.
c) The level of costs sought by the respondent in the proceedings
was within the range of costs sought by other local authorities in
similar proceedings for unpaid council tax
d) The level of costs sought had been calculated to reflect both
administrative and legal costs in bringing the proceedings to court,
including the court fees.
e) The appellant referred to correspondence he had had with the
respondent in which he asserted that the level of costs claimed by
the council was a means of raising additional revenue from the
respondent.

f) The appellant referred to the respondent's 2011 budget and


financial plan in which a majority was stated to be in favour of

increased charges for summonses rather than charging for other


council services such as replacement bins or garden waste
collections.
4. It was contended by the appellant that:a) The level of costs requested by the respondent in the
proceedings was disproportionate to and not commensurate with
the true cost of bringing the proceedings before the court in that it
was much higher than the actual cost.
b) The reason the respondent sought such a high level of costs in
the proceedings was as a means for the respondent to raise
additional revenue for the respondent.

5. It was contended by the respondent that:a) The level of costs sought in the proceedings was an amount
that had previously been advised by the respondent to the court
that would be sought by the respondent in each case in
proceedings to recover unpaid council tax. This amount had been
claimed in all cases before the court since that notification.
b) The sum requested was not a means to raise additional revenue
for the respondent but a reflection of the broad average costs of
bringing any individual case for unpaid council tax before the court.

6. We were not referred to any case authority.

7. We were of the following opinion:a) We recognise that in all cases where costs are claimed we
always have a discretion as to whether to order them, and if so, in
what sum. Although the appellant admitted the matter of complaint
and costs would therefore normally follow the event, the fact that
the respondent asked for the normal amount of amount of costs in
this case did not prevent us from reducing the amount or refusing
to make an order for costs at all.
3

b) The respondent, as with other council tax billing authorities, has


taken a broad approach to the question of requests for costs and
has sought a similar amount in this case as with all others in the in
the same court list. In normal circumstances this is appropriate,
although we accept we must look at each case individually. This
means that the respondent could in principle have sought a greater
amount of costs in an individual case where more costs were
incurred, subject to any limitations set by regulations, had it
chosen to do so.
c) The amount of costs requested in all cases before us for nonpayment of council tax was a sum advised to the court in writing by
the respondent well over a year before the current proceedings
against the appellant were commenced, and the court in other
such proceedings in the intervening period has considered that
level of costs to be appropriate by making orders in favour of the
respondent in that sum. That fact of course did not prevent us from
considering the level of costs requested in the proceedings against
the appellant.
d) The respondent had to pay a court fee in respect of every
application for a liability order as well as cover the other
administrative and legal costs of bringing the proceedings, and we
therefore considered 70.00 was an amount reasonably incurred
by the respondent in making the application before the court and
obtaining the liability order.
e) On the basis of the information presented to us by both the
appellant and the respondent, the contention that the amount
claimed by the respondent was in the nature of general revenue
raising by the respondent did not succeed and we were satisfied
that it was instead an amount to cover the cost of bringing council
tax enforcement proceedings to court.
f) This case had no features to distinguish it significantly from other
cases in our list to suggest to us that a different level of costs
should be considered in this case.
g) The appellant should pay the full amount of the costs sought.
We could not see that it was just to order the appellant to pay less
or we would have so ordered.

8. We ordered that 60.00 costs requested by the respondent


should be paid by the appellant in the proceedings and made a
liability order against him to enable that sum to be recovered by
the respondent.

QUESTION

9. The question for the opinion of the High Court is:Were we entitled in the circumstances of this case to order
payment of the full amount of the costs requested by the
respondent and make the liability order which followed as a
consequence thereof?

Dated the 22 day of July 2013

Mr J A O'Nions JP
Mr T A Shepherdson JP

Justices' Clerk
for and on behalf of the Justices adjudicating.

STATEMENT IN ACORDANCE WITH RULE 79(1) OF THE MAGISTRATES'


COURTS RULES 1981
APPLICATION TO STATE A CASE MADE BY

It was not possible to comply with rule 77(1) of the Magistrates' Courts Rules 1981
for the following reasons:
1.

The application to state a case was made on 22 November 2012. This


was shortly before the Deputy Justices' Clerk who advised the Justices at
Mr
's hearing on 2 November 2012 and the person who would
ordinarily have advised the Justices in connection with the application to
state a case left the service of Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals
Service.

2.

The matter was escalated to the Justices' Clerk. This caused a delay as
the Justices' Clerk had then to review the case papers and discuss the
matter with the Justices to seek their views on whether it was it would be
appropriate to state a case or to refuse to state a case on the grounds
that the application was frivolous. The Justices decided that they would
state a case but required a recognizance from Mr
before doing so.

3.

On 24 January 2013 correspondence was sent to Mr


indicating that
in accordance with section 114 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980, that
before stating a case the Justices required a recognizance from to
prosecute the appeal without delay. To date Mr
has not entered
into such a recognizance.

4.

On 29 April 2013 Mr
corresponded with the court indicating
concern with the request for a recognizance and asking for a certificate of
refusal to state a case, and that if the latter were declined, that he would
seek permission for a Judicial Review.

5.

On June 2013 Mr
made an application to the Administrative Court
for permission to seek a Judicial Review of the court not to supply him
with the draft case and to seek a mandatory order that the Justices state a
case.

6.

On 8 July 2013 the Court responded to the application for a Judicial


Review by indicating it was still awaiting Mr
to enter into a
recognizance before stating a case and had not refused to state a case at
all. However, in the interests of avoiding any further delay in the case, and
in an endeavour to save the costs of hearings in the Administrative Court
of both an application for Judicial Review and an appeal by way of case
stated, the Justices have decided to proceed to produce and deliver a
draft case to Mr
.

Dated the 22nd day of July 2013

Justices' Clerk

Page 1 of 1

From:
To:
Cc:
Sent:
Subject:

"
"<
@btopenworld.com>
<Alison.Watts@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>
"Crocken, Karen" <karen.crocken@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>
30 July 2013 21:53
Acknowledgement of draft Case Stated (re, North East Lincolnshire Council)

Dear Mrs Watts


I have today received the draft in respect of an appeal by way of a case stated (30 July 2013).

Yours sincerely
.

From:
To:
Cc:
Sent:
Attach:
Subject:

"
"<
@btopenworld.com>
<Alison.Watts@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>
"Crocken, Karen" <karen.crocken@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>
19 August 2013 22:39
Doncaster CrimPR 64.3(6) 19 August 2013.pdf; Case stated Draft representation.pdf
Representations on Draft Case - Rule 77 (2)

Dear Mrs Watts

Please find attached, hard copies in the post tomorrow.

Yours sincerely
.

From:
To:
Sent:
Attach:
Subject:

"
"<
@btopenworld.com>
<eve.richardson-smith@nelincs.gov.uk>
19 August 2013 22:45
Case stated Draft representation.pdf; NELC CrimPR 64.3(6) 19 August 2013.pdf
Representations on Draft Case - CrimPR 64.3 (6)

Dear Ms Richardson

Please find attached, hard copies in the post tomorrow.

Yours sincerely
.

06/09/2016

REPRESENTATIONS MADE ON THE DRAFT CASE


IN ACCORDANCE WITH CRIMINAL PROCEDURE RULES
PART 64.3 (6)
(Rule 77 (2) of the Magistrates' Courts Rules 1981)
19 August 2013

Note: Representations (where made) are indented to draft content with


contrasting typeface.

In the High Court of Justice


Administrative Court
Between
Appellant
and
North East Lincolnshire Council

Respondent

Case Stated by Justices in the County of Lincolnshire, acting in


and for the Local Justice Area of Grimsby and Cleethorpes in
respect of their adjudication as a Magistrates' Court sitting at
Grimsby.

CASE

1. On 10 October 2012 a complaint was laid against the appellant


on behalf of the respondent that for the period 1 April 2012 to 31
March 2013 at Grimsby in the County of Lincolnshire he was a
person who was liable to pay the sum of 437.52, the balance of
council tax he owed arising from his occupation of
, Grimsby, and application was therefore made to the
court for a liability order to secure payment of that sum in
accordance with regulation 34 of the Council Tax (Administration
and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.
2. The court heard the complaint on 2 November 2012. The court
did not hear evidence in the matter as the appellant admitted the
following facts:Evidence was submitted to the court challenging both the
reasonableness of costs and the apparent breach of law
imposing them.
Outlining briefly:
In accordance with the procedure described in the Council
Tax Regulations, costs imposed (before review) had been
applied incrementally. They were proportioned so that
56% were incurred on issue of a summons whilst full
costs were incurred only on the complaint being heard and
on order of the court. The ratio of liability orders to the
number of accounts summonsed meant only around 75%
of householders issued a summons incurred full costs.
Those settling liability before the hearing paid only an
amount incurred by the council up until the summons
issue.
All costs are now front loaded so each householder issued
a summons incurs full costs whether the complaint is
heard by the court or not. The change in composition and
a 23% raise overall, increased the cost of the summons by
120%.
a) The appellant was liable for the amount of council tax, namely
437.52, claimed against him by the respondent for the period 1
April 2012 to 31 March 2013.
b) The appellant had by the time of the court hearing paid the
sum due to the respondent in respect of the outstanding council
tax that was claimed by the respondent.
2

A letter notifying the respondent, the day payment was


made, stated the importance of it being made known in
advance of the hearing whether a liability order would be
requested for the shortfall of the stated amount payable on
the summons.
The assumption conveyed to the respondent, was that no
reply would mean attending the hearing was required if
wishing to dispute costs.
The respondent was reminded that it had been unable to
determine, when previously requested, how the costs had
been calculated, and so the court would have had no basis
to assess the reasonableness of the claim.
There was no offer of a breakdown showing how the costs
were calculated. If there had been, it may have justified
they exceeded the amount already paid.
The respondent did not reply, so was assumed attending
the hearing was required.
c) The appellant was liable to pay an amount in respect of the
costs of the respondent in bringing proceedings before the court
d) The claim for costs in respect of the proceedings made by the
respondent on the face of the summons served upon the appellant
was in the sum of 70.00.
e) The appellant had by the time of the hearing paid 10.00 to the
respondent in respect of the costs.
f) The appellant had not paid the full amount of the costs
requested by the respondent and did not intend so to do so.
The case had not been heard at this point so no costs had
been ordered by the court.
The 70.00 sum demanded was merely the standard
amount requested at the hearing so if the defendant
wished to contend the level, it was open to the respondent
to provide a breakdown showing that it was justified.
There was no offer of a breakdown. Had an agreement on
the level of costs been reached it would not have been
necessary for the respondent to have proceeded with the
3

application for a liability order.


3. The following is a short statement of the representations made
to us by the parties:a) The respondent stated that the amount of the claim for costs
was the same as that sought in all similar proceedings
commenced by the respondent, a sum which had previously been
notified to the Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court under
cover of correspondence dated 4 March 2011 for cases arising on
or after 1 April 2011.
Though the council had notified the court that the costs
would be increased, it could not have meant they were
agreed in advance.
When making an order for costs, the court must be
satisfied that the sum it orders has been reasonably
incurred by the council. Notifying the Court merely made
it aware of the level of costs that the Council would
request at the hearing. The decision therefore, as to
whether costs are awarded and to the level, is always the
Courts.
The March 4, 2011 correspondence detailed that the
increased costs charged for a Council Tax summons
would apply similarly to Business Rates, despite the laws
governing costs differing. It is apparent that the court,
without evidence supporting the 120% hike, approved the
costs and had not contested procedural errors in liability
order applications for Business Rates.
Unlike Council Tax, nothing in the regulations governing
Business Rates provides that a defaulter may halt
proceedings, if payment is made of the outstanding
liability plus incurred summons costs, before the case is
heard.
The law states that in the case of Business Rates
applications, an order for costs must be made by the court.
However, North East Lincolnshire council instructs
defaulters that on receiving a summons, if they pay the
full amount owing including all costs before the date of
the hearing no further action will be required.
It appears in those circumstances, the council does not
apply to the court for an order of costs; in the year 20114

12, statistics reveal out of 932 business ratepayers


summonsed, 33% of those incurred 70 costs where no
liability order had been granted.
b) The level of costs sought by the respondent did not exceed the
prescribed amount described in regulation 34(8) of the Council Tax
(Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.
It is unclear whether a prescribed amount refers to a set
figure in regulation 34(8). If so, none is specified only
costs reasonably incurred.
An accurate transcript of the hearing is essential to verify
that regulation 34(8) was in fact referred to by the
respondent. This is crucial to the appeal because one
question in law focuses on the composition of costs in this
area.
Costs would have been awarded in accordance with
Regulation 34(8) had the outstanding liability alone (no
costs element) been paid after the order was applied for
but before it was made. The appeal is concerned in
circumstances where a reasonable sum of costs had also
been paid. Regulation 34(8) was not relevant; the council
took the option to pursue a liability order after liability
had been settled including payment for reasonable costs.
The council proceeded without providing a breakdown to
show how its costs exceeded the amount tendered. As no
sum is prescribed in the council tax regulations, nor had
costs been ordered by the court, the onus (as they were
disputed) was on the authority to justify that its standard
sum had been incurred as opposed to the amount already
paid.
In the circumstances, the relevant costs in dispute were
those described in Regulation 34(5) an indeterminate
sum in respect of incurred costs to issue a summons.
This has relevance to the point in law questioned which
raises the matter that all costs are now front loaded,
meaning in terms of law, costs described at 34(7) in
respect of obtaining the order, are incurred where only an
amount has been incurred in connection with issuing the
summons; those which are described at 34(5).

c) The level of costs sought by the respondent in the proceedings


was within the range of costs sought by other local authorities in
similar proceedings for unpaid council tax

The respondent had not supplied the Magistrates Court


with a breakdown of the 120% increase in summons costs,
neither did it hold a breakdown for the calculation of the
70 fee. It was based on comparisons with neighbouring
authorities, then compared against national averages, and
checked to ensure that the monies raised from costs would
not be greater than the cost of the service.
Comparing with another authority would be appropriate
only if applications were made under exactly the same
circumstances and if the authority in comparison had
produced a breakdown showing precisely how theyd
been calculated.
Monies raised from costs must not be greater than those
incurred in connection with the application; not as stated,
checked to ensure that they would not be greater than the
cost of the service.
A 1992 publication by the DoE, (the Council tax practice
note 9: Recovery and Enforcement), stated under liability
orders, that it should be recognised that the Court may
wish to be satisfied that the amount claimed by way of
costs in any individual case is no more than that
reasonably incurred by the authority.
This was reiterated recently in a publication by the
Department of Communities and Local Government on
good practice in the collection of Council Tax arrears:
Local Authorities are reminded that they are only
permitted to charge reasonable costs for the court
summons and liability order. In the interests of
transparency, Local Authorities should be able to
provide a breakdown, on request, showing how
these costs are calculated....it should be recognised
that the Court may wish to be satisfied that the
amount claimed by way of costs in any individual
case is no more than that reasonably incurred by
the authority.

d) The level of costs sought had been calculated to reflect both


administrative and legal costs in bringing the proceedings to court,
including the court fees.

There was no calculation.


A 1992 publication by the DoE, (the Council tax practice
note 9: Recovery and Enforcement), stated under liability
orders, that it should be recognised that the Court may
wish to be satisfied that the amount claimed by way of
costs in any individual case is no more than that
reasonably incurred by the authority.
This was reiterated recently in a publication by the
Department of Communities and Local Government on
good practice in the collection of Council Tax arrears:
Local Authorities are reminded that they are only
permitted to charge reasonable costs for the court
summons and liability order. In the interests of
transparency, Local Authorities should be able to
provide a breakdown, on request, showing how
these costs are calculated....it should be recognised
that the Court may wish to be satisfied that the
amount claimed by way of costs in any individual
case is no more than that reasonably incurred by
the authority.

e) The appellant referred to correspondence he had had with the


respondent in which he asserted that the level of costs claimed by
the council was a means of raising additional revenue from the
respondent.

f) The appellant referred to the respondent's 2011 budget and


financial plan in which a majority was stated to be in favour of
increased charges for summonses rather than charging for other
council services such as replacement bins or garden waste
collections.
The increase was to meet budget requirements and
involved consulting the views of residents, businesses
and scrutiny [panel] on areas from which they favoured
boosting revenue.
7

The decision then to increase summons costs was not


because incurred costs had risen but geared to preferences
of the respondents to the consultation.
The increase was a budgetary measure as proposals being
put to a vote testifies. Costs, according to law must be
reasonably incurred. The decision to increase them on the
strength of a ballot suggests it was done simply to
generate income rather than a measure to compensate for
additional incurred costs.
Statement made by Respondent:
The decision to increase the summons charge and
make no subsequent charge for a liability order
was agreed by members following public
consultation in relation to the budget proposals.
4. It was contended by the appellant that:Costs reviews were undertaken for purposes other than to
reflect the level of expenditure incurred in court
applications.
Cabinet documents revealed that increases were used as
an instrument to generate income and/or to encourage
behaviour.
ooOoo
A review in 2001 disclosed that if the respondent were to
follow the trend of other councils by charging more in
respect of Business Rates than for Council Tax (three
times), the extra cost would encourage prompt payment.
Intended to improve cash flow for the authority, the
overall benefit from the review would potentially generate
additional extra income of 38k per annum.
ooOoo
The following year a cabinet document identified ways of
funding additional resources to ensure the backlog of
work that had arisen due to changes in the IT system were
addressed.
Recommendations were that the Council Tax summons
8

cost be increased by 50% with immediate effect. The


forecasted additional revenue would easily produce the
30k per annum costed to pay for additional staff.
ooOoo
Historical changes in the composition of the summons and
liability order costs, highlights that these have been
determined arbitrarily.
The gradual shift in weight from the liability order cost to
the summons is more likely to have been manipulated to
encourage behaviour and/or to maximise revenue from
shifting the greater cost into a bracket where the majority
of debtors fall.
Several costs reviews have revealed since 2000-01 that the
composition has changed progressively from 78% of the
total being attributed to the liability order, to the present,
where all cost has been front loaded to the summons.
If the same ratio of liability order to summons costs from
2000-01 still applied, the overall cost would be split so the
present 70 summons costs would only be 15.
a) The level of costs requested by the respondent in the
proceedings was disproportionate to and not commensurate with
the true cost of bringing the proceedings before the court in that it
was much higher than the actual cost.
The respondent described the 120% increase in summons
costs as a saving that can be made in the cost of the
delivery of the service.
It was found that the service did not relate to the cost of
issuing summonses but the costs reasonably incurred for
Council Tax collection and recovery.
The law doesnt provide for the inclusion of costs that
relate to general council tax administration.
b) The reason the respondent sought such a high level of costs in
the proceedings was as a means for the respondent to raise
additional revenue for the respondent.

5. It was contended by the respondent that:a) The level of costs sought in the proceedings was an amount
that had previously been advised by the respondent to the court
that would be sought by the respondent in each case in
proceedings to recover unpaid council tax. This amount had been
claimed in all cases before the court since that notification.
b) The sum requested was not a means to raise additional revenue
for the respondent but a reflection of the broad average costs of
bringing any individual case for unpaid council tax before the court.
6. We were not referred to any case authority.
Regina v Brentford Justices ex parte Catlin [1975] QB
455 was referred to in an item of evidence disputing the
level of expenditure attributed to monitoring and control.
It was argued that over a five year period, a total 3,528
Liability Orders had been issued for initial debt of 50 or
less despite being policy for the council to pass accounts
to enforcement for amounts over 50. This along with
summonses containing incorrect and out of date
information issued on 3,361 accounts for a hearing of 2
June 2011 pointed to neither the Magistrates court nor
more crucially the local authority incurring costs in
respect of monitoring liability order applications.
...before a summons or warrant is issued the
information must be laid before a magistrate and
he must go through the judicial exercise of deciding
whether a summons or warrant ought to be issued
or not. If a magistrate authorises the issue of a
summons without having applied his mind to the
information then he is guilty of dereliction of
duty...
7. We were of the following opinion:a) We recognise that in all cases where costs are claimed we
always have a discretion as to whether to order them, and if so, in
what sum. Although the appellant admitted the matter of complaint
and costs would therefore normally follow the event, the fact that
the respondent asked for the normal amount of amount of costs in
this case did not prevent us from reducing the amount or refusing
to make an order for costs at all.
10

b) The respondent, as with other council tax billing authorities, has


taken a broad approach to the question of requests for costs and
has sought a similar amount in this case as with all others in the in
the same court list. In normal circumstances this is appropriate,
although we accept we must look at each case individually. This
means that the respondent could in principle have sought a greater
amount of costs in an individual case where more costs were
incurred, subject to any limitations set by regulations, had it
chosen to do so.
Costs, when considered in a broad sense, include an
amount to cover Council Tax collection and recovery.
The law doesnt provide for costs income to fund the
running of council tax departments, only to cover
expenditure in connection with the application. As this
would be seen as inappropriate profit, it would be
expected that the element relating to general
administration would be discounted.
The challenge was not to the costs incurred by the council
in obtaining the order, but specifically the amount it
incurred up to payment being made. With that in mind,
any logical deviation to the standard sum would be a
lesser amount.
c) The amount of costs requested in all cases before us for nonpayment of council tax was a sum advised to the court in writing by
the respondent well over a year before the current proceedings
against the appellant were commenced, and the court in other
such proceedings in the intervening period has considered that
level of costs to be appropriate by making orders in favour of the
respondent in that sum. That fact of course did not prevent us from
considering the level of costs requested in the proceedings against
the appellant.
Costs should vary in line with application numbers.
Higher volumes, in theory should lower costs as the
councils incurred expenditure must be divided between a
greater number. With typically fewer applications than for
Council Tax, this is the logic behind councils charging
higher levels to Business Ratepayers.
It follows if the court was mindful of factors influencing
costs, the amount awarded would need adjusting
downwards where numbers on the complaint list exceeded
11

certain levels. Overlooking the bulk nature of the process


gives councils the opportunity to significantly profit from
costs.
Numbers of householders receiving council tax
summonses has substantially increased since changes
were introduced to the benefit system. It has been reported
that one City Council has issued double the number of
summonses compared with last year. If due diligence was
given to determining costs, it would be evident with lower
amounts awarded since the reforms.
d) The respondent had to pay a court fee in respect of every
application for a liability order as well as cover the other
administrative and legal costs of bringing the proceedings, and we
therefore considered 70.00 was an amount reasonably incurred
by the respondent in making the application before the court and
obtaining the liability order.
The court fee paid in respect of each application,
according to the Magistrates Courts fee schedule is 3.
It is understood when challenging the reasonableness of
costs the individual case must be considered. However, it
would be unrepresentative to assess costs as if the
application was made independently from other
complaints. Summonses are processed in bulk (not
individually) in line with parameters set in the systems
software. Having met required criteria, recovery is
triggered with evidently no manual filtering carried out to
avoid unnecessary cases being sent for recovery.
With human involvement at a minimum and through
economies of scale, the bulk applications pose the risk of
councils being awarded costs far exceeding expenditure.
Figures obtained show that in respect of a single bulk
application, North East Lincolnshire council issued
summonses to 2,602 households with costs valued of over
182k. Typically, bulk applications are made monthly.
e) On the basis of the information presented to us by both the
appellant and the respondent, the contention that the amount
claimed by the respondent was in the nature of general revenue
raising by the respondent did not succeed and we were satisfied
that it was instead an amount to cover the cost of bringing council
12

tax enforcement proceedings to court.


f) This case had no features to distinguish it significantly from other
cases in our list to suggest to us that a different level of costs
should be considered in this case.
g) The appellant should pay the full amount of the costs sought.
We could not see that it was just to order the appellant to pay less
or we would have so ordered.

8. We ordered that 60.00 costs requested by the respondent


should be paid by the appellant in the proceedings and made a
liability order against him to enable that sum to be recovered by
the respondent.

QUESTION

9. The question for the opinion of the High Court is:Were we entitled in the circumstances of this case to order
payment of the full amount of the costs requested by the
respondent and make the liability order which followed as a
consequence thereof?

Dated the 22 day of July 2013

Mr J A O'Nions JP
Mr T A Shepherdson JP

Justices' Clerk
for and on behalf of the Justices adjudicating.
13

Justices' Clerk for Humber & South


Yorkshire
Doncaster Magistrates Court
PO Box 49
The Law Courts
College Road
Doncaster DN1 3HT

Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire

19 August 2013

Dear Mrs Watts


Re: North East Lincolnshire Council V
Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court - 2 November
2012 Application to State a Case

In accordance with Rule 77 (2) of the Magistrates' Courts Rules 1981, there is enclosed,
representations made on the content of the draft case.
May I respectfully draw to your attention that in accordance with rule 78 of the Magistrates' Courts
Rules 1981 you have within 21 days after the latest day on which representations may be made
under rule 77 to state and sign the case.

Yours sincerely

North East Lincolnshire Council


Municipal Offices
Town Hall Square
Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire
DN31 1HU

Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire

19 August 2013

Dear Ms Richardson
Re: North East Lincolnshire Council V
Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court - 2 November
2012 Application to State a Case

In accordance with Criminal Procedure Rules Part 64.3 (6), there is enclosed, representations
made on the content of the draft case.

Yours sincerely

Page 1 of 1

From:
To:
Cc:
Sent:
Attach:
Subject:

"
"<
@btopenworld.com>
<Alison.Watts@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>
<eve.richardson-smith@nelincs.gov.uk>; "Crocken, Karen" <karen.crocken@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>;
"Raven, Mike (Gov Connect)" <Mike.Raven@Nelincs.gcsx.gov.uk>
10 January 2014 16:09
Doncaster CrimPR 64.3(6) 10 January 2014.pdf
Re: Representations on Draft Case - CrimPR 64.3 (6)

Dear Mrs Watts


Please find attached letter in regards the application to state a case.

Yours sincerely
.

07/09/2016

Justices' Clerk for Humber & South


Yorkshire
Doncaster Magistrates Court
PO Box 49
The Law Courts
College Road
Doncaster DN1 3HT

Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire

10 January 2014

Dear Mrs Watts


Re: North East Lincolnshire Council V
Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court - 2 November
2012 Application to State a Case

I refer to the draft case received 30 July 2013 and the 21 day time limit from receipt of the draft
case to submit any written representations upon its content.
May I bring it to your attention that on 19 August 2013, representations were served together with
letter advising the Court it had (from the latest day on which representations may be made) 21
days to state and sign the case in accordance with rule 78 of the Magistrates' Courts Rules 1981.
Accordingly, the final signed case was expected on or before 10 September 2013 (overrun by 4
months). I would therefore like to know why the justices have decided against complying with the
relevant rules.

Yours sincerely

Page 1 of 1

From:
To:
Cc:
Sent:
Attach:
Subject:

"
"<
@btopenworld.com>
<Alison.Watts@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>
<eve.richardson-smith@nelincs.gov.uk>; "Crocken, Karen" <karen.crocken@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>;
"Raven, Mike (Gov Connect)" <Mike.Raven@Nelincs.gcsx.gov.uk>
13 February 2014 17:18
Recognizance 13 February 2014.pdf
Case Stated - Recognizance (re, North East Lincolnshire Council)

Dear Mrs Watts


Please find attached letter in regards arranging recognizance.

Yours sincerely
.

07/09/2016

Justices' Clerk for Humber & South


Yorkshire
Doncaster Magistrates Court
PO Box 49
The Law Courts
College Road
Doncaster DN1 3HT

Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire

13 February 2014

Dear Mrs Watts


Re: North East Lincolnshire Council V
Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court - 2 November
2012 Application to State a Case

Further to there being no response to my letter of 10.1.14, I am left not knowing why the justices
did not state the case in accordance with rule 78 of the Magistrates' Courts Rules 1981.
It must be assumed that the court only gave an undertaking to serve the draft case, re
acknowledgement of service (Judicial Review 8.7.13) and not intended delivering the case stated
until recognizance had been agreed.
As a consequence of the judicial review claim, I understand that despite a sum (500) being
stated in your letter (24.1.13), the appropriateness and/or the amount may be considered on
agreeing recognizance. It would appear that if this appeal is to be progressed it will be conditional
on entering into recognizance. I therefore ask that arrangements are made for this to take place
and await your response.

Yours sincerely

Page 1 of 1

From:
To:
Cc:
Sent:
Attach:
Subject:

"
"<
@btopenworld.com>
<Alison.Watts@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>
<eve.richardson-smith@nelincs.gov.uk>; "Crocken, Karen" <karen.crocken@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk>;
"Raven, Mike (Gov Connect)" <Mike.Raven@Nelincs.gcsx.gov.uk>
22 April 2014 14:48
Cert - refusal to state case 22 April 2014.pdf
Re: Certificate of Refusal to state a case - s.111(5) MCA 1980 (re, North East Lincolnshire
Council)

Dear Mrs Watts


Please find attached letter for your attention requiring the production of a Certificate of refusal to state a case
under section 111(5) of the Magistrates Court's Act 1980.

Yours sincerely

07/09/2016

Justices' Clerk for Humber & South


Yorkshire
Doncaster Magistrates Court
PO Box 49
The Law Courts
College Road
Doncaster DN1 3HT

Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire

22 April 2014

Dear Mrs Watts


Re: North East Lincolnshire Council V
Grimsby and Cleethorpes Magistrates' Court - 2 November
2012 Application to State a Case

Thank you for your email of 6 March 2014 in which you stated:
I will have written communication with you either later today or first thing tomorrow
setting out the position with your case and advising you on next steps.
I did not receive the aforementioned communication, neither have subsequent calls to your office
made 19 and 28 March prompted a response. The net result being that the case, for which the
Magistrates owe a legal duty to state for the opinion of the High Court, has not been stated.
As no contact has been made regarding my 13 February 2014 letter to agree recognizance and
every attempt to proceed with the appeal has drawn a blank, it appears the court is refusing to
state the case.
Pursuant to section 111(5) of the MCA 1980, a magistrate can refuse to state a case, but must
consider the application 'frivolous'. The meaning of the term was considered by the Civil Division of
the Court of Appeal in (R v Mildenhall Magistrates' Court, ex p Forest District Council). The then
Lord Chief Justice in considering the meaning of 'frivolous' was of the view that in the context, the
Court should consider the application to be futile, misconceived, hopeless or academic. He went on
to say that such a conclusion was not one to which the justices can properly come simply because
they consider their decision to be right or immune from challenge.
Presuming the application is not considered 'frivolous' (a draft has been produced) there is no
obvious reason why the court has not stated the case as legally required. However, as the court
may only refuse on these grounds then I require a certificate stating that the application has been
refused (section 111(5) MCA 1980) setting out the reasons why, so I may under section 111(6)
seek a second mandatory order from the Administrative Court requiring the case to be stated.
Yours sincerely