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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69786
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have received a court summons for being a little late in

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I have received a court summons for being a little late in paying council tax. I am not in arrears and I intended to pay the amount I should pay. however, recently I have lost my brother and my mothers health has deteriorated to the point of needing extra care at home as her condition is terminal. I have struggled with our four children to remember everything because my energy has been devoted to ensuring the family are ok, mum and my brothers children are managing. I have been going through the bereavement process and it is common knowledge that grief can affect memory. I can only hope it gets better soon. c/t is the only bill that I pay by cheque, and I stupigly wrote the wrong amount for two months on the cheques, its only 15pounds, but they have sent me a leetr for summons and an amended payment plan which is unaffordable, and because it was late, although I have written the wrong amount by mistake. I contacted the council to discuss the issue yesterday and they have indicated that letters have been sent, but I have not received any. they aslo indicate that I have to give them my income and expenditure details to have the possibility of an amended financial arrangement in place. the issue isn't about us not bening able to afford it at all, we had an arrangement in place to pay over a 12 month period, and this is what we wish. we wish to reguarlise this method of payment asap, we are not asking for benefits. it is because they are asking us to pay 187.00 a month from 102.00 to pay up till December to finish this financial year. they indicate because they have sent it too summons level due to being down by 15.00 and one month being late this is why we have lost our installment right. also, my method of payment changed in December as I payed by cheque. I discovered yesterday that those paying by cheque are not afforded the same rights as those paying by dd as there are 4 payment dates for regular dd and one date for cheque payers. this is why they are saying we are late!!! I haven't had a problem before, but as I have previously mentioned my memeory has been impaired as I have had an incredibile amount to remember with a young family, my brothers childrens welfare and my mother.
is there anything I can do to appeal the court costs of 85.00 as it is disproportionate, is it in my interests to attend the court hearing and state my mititatging circumstances? I do not feel comfortable in giving themexpendiure details as I do not feel it necessary, and I feel it is so they can assess our ability to pay the amount they are requesting which is disproprionate. its so unfair. I have offered to pay a cheque for the amount that I clumsily missed of 15.00, but as it has gone to court for this there is nothing I can do?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

How late are you please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


ebc are saying that if paying by cheque then it has too be payed by the 1st of each month, I payed it a week late, but my method of payment does not afford the same rights as those paying by dd. this gives me no control over paying as it is forcing me pay by dd. a dd and a cheque is a promise to pay be whatever means, I found out yesterday that if you pay by cheque it ihas too be the 1st!


thankyou


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

Have there been previous defaults?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


no there havent

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


no there haven't been previous defaults on this account

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

It is rather surprising that a direct debit method is not available. It sounds a classic case for one.

In any event though, I'm afraid you don't have positive grounds for appeal. Council tax is due in full at the beginning of the year. Councils do not have to allow any person to pay in instalments. They will do so generally to fit in with people's wage payments but there is no right to demand it.

That is why upon any default of any kind for any reason they are free to issue a summons.

It is though fair to say that they would not normally do that on a first instance of default and so quickly as well. It might be that this is an honest mistake and they would be happy to negotiate over it. One a summons is issued councils will generally dig their heels in but it would be worth making efforts. They might well accept that they acted disproportionately quickly here.

Ultimately though, at Court, you can only contest the costs of a summons if there was no basis at all to issue a summons.

The other alternative is to go to Court and ask them to use their discretion about costs which might pay off but its obviously a risk.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


they do offer a dd facility but it suits me to pay by cheque. if you pay by cheque it does afford you the same rights as those who pay by dd. even so, regardless of how you pay, it is still a promise to pay that amount. I feel that I have been treated unfairly because of this and forces you into paying by regular dd, which givs you no control!! do I have grounds for mitigating circumstances and can I tell the magistrate that I feel they behaved disproporionaltley because of their speed. I had already paid the cheque and then they sent the summons but I clumsily indicated the wrong amount on the cheque. wouldn't have been easier to phone or write, that's what my telephone number is XXXXX!!


many thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

they do offer a dd facility but it suits me to pay by cheque. if you oay by cheque, it does not afford you the same rights as those who pay by dd. even so, regardless of how you pay, it is still a promise to pay that amount. I feel I have been treated unbfairly because of this and forces you into paying by regular dd, which gives you no control!! do I have grounds for mitigating circumstances and can I tell the magistrate that I feel they behaved disproportionaltely because of their speed. I had already paid the cheque and then they sent the summons but I clumsily sent the wrong amount by mistake. as I mentioned earlier, I have had a lot to remember and we are only human after all. mant thanks


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
You don't have any argument arising from the direct debit issue. Its not a good point I'm afraid.

You may well have an argument arising from the speed but thats always a risk. It depends which court you get in the day.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I will attend the hearing to be honest about my memory and how it could have been dealt with better, by just phoning me!! also, why waste court time when the only thing is that I made an error on the cheque and was late once? many thanks


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, it is a bit over zealous of them.

That doesn't necessarily mean they won't get losses though.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69786
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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