Issue on back dating liability

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    J Strutt

    Hi can you give me opinions on the following case:

    A property in our area was repossessed back in 2002 and an exemption class L was awarded. The review was not done by the authority, but bills sent each year to the mortgage company showing liability and exemption.

    In July 2007 it was reviewed and it was found that the property was sold back in August 2002 and new occupiers were billed back to that date. Between 2002 and July 2007 no information was received by either the mortgate company or the occupiers of changes to liability to pay council tax.

    In light of the fact that we have only just received notification and therefore only just be able to bill correctly are we able to backdate the bill to August 2002 or does the Encon v Notts City Council have any bearing on this.

    I would be grateful of anyones opinions on this. Thanks.


    As the LA have not reviewed the exemption it could be argued that you have not billed the current people as soon as is practicably possible.
    At our LA in these cases we normally go back to the start of the previous financial year and ‘split the difference’ in the delay.

    Steve H

    Hardy v Sefton MBC back in July 2006 may be of use to you in recovery on this case as it confirms that Encon is not totally relevant to Council Tax decisions as the wording is different in your responsibility to bill promptly.

    Personally I think you have to go back to 2002 and bill on the basis of a liability for charge existing, and as such the liable party should be paying it. They must have expected a bill at some stage! Equally, I don’t know on what legal basis you could decide not to bill for the whole of this period – whether you then decide not to collect part of it due to the delay is a different matter.

    It may also be wise to use this experience to look at how you review your exemptions (or at least some of them) as you may be criticised, if it went to the Ombudsman, on a reliance on the bill producing changes in circumstances. I can’t think there would be many properties not sold 5 years after repossession.


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