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In the High Court of Justice

Administrative Court
North East Lincolnshire Council


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


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 ?~' \;;A
~ __"r
.lt, 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
heard representations from the parties but 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 on the
face of the summons 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 proc~edings 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 for the

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
collection s.

4. It was contended by the appellant that:a) The level of costs req uested 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 respondent had proceeded to request the costs without
providing a breakdown of the calculation of those costs.
c) 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 referred to the following case authority by the

Regina v Brentford Justices ex parte Cat/in [1975} QB 455

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.
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.


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 18 day of December 2013

Mr J A O'Nions Jp
Mr T A Shepherdson