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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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My son and a flat mate were in arrears of council tax with

Customer Question

My son and a flat mate were in arrears of council tax with City of Westminster. As an owner of multiple properties myself around the country I am in the practice of paying council tax by the fast payment service direct to various councils - sometimes on behalf of myself and sometimes on behalf of a tenant - and quite often just as an act of charity - quoting the account as a reference - this work fine and does not involve me handing my card details or bank account details to a third party - a third party which is sometimes - as in the case of City of Westminster - a commercial organization. CoW does not provide sort code and account number for payment by this means of council tax - although it does for business rates. My request to "secure.capita" - the third party organization - by e-mail for account details received an automated response requiring me to click a link - something I am not prepared to do. Partly out of security reasons - and partly, but mostly, because one feels a straightforward question deserves a direct answer. I have, as an act of charity, paid the amount requested to the bank account of the City of Westminster which they advertise as the account for receipt of business rates with the appropriate reference and have advised the third-party processing agent of this with a copy of the payment confirmation and will also advise CoW by hard copy mail. Having delivered good value to the City of Westminster - albeit to and account not designated for that purpose - I believe I have discharged the obligation associated with the reference number and property address.
Question: Am I right that I have discharged the liability - or are they legally and soundly entitled to say that this is not one of the specified means of payment and this means of payment is not permitted - you, George Hudson, the payor, may apply for a refund, but the obligation has not been discharged. You will understand from this that I am not interested at all in the financial consequences of this specific matter, but very interested in the legal question, as well as holding the state and/or commercial organizations they employ on their behalf to account and to resist what may be regarded as analogous to bullying. I am also of course happy to expend funds for a cogent response to this query - I have not been able to find any discussion of this point on the web. Yours sincerely, ***** ***** M.A., Fellow, Harris Manchester College , University of Oxford
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
For clarity - the account to which I paid the funds is an account of the City of Westminster - not that of a third party. I also understand that there can be reasonable concerns why payment by deliverance of cash is problematic - also costly - and therefore perhaps may not be acceptable.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It is also the case that my son and flatmate accept the liability and also agree to my discharging the obligation on their behalf.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
So, in short, you want to pay in a manner that they do not offer?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have paid in a manner they do not offer - but not any manner, a transfer for immediate value into a bank account which belongs to them.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I do not believe - I hope correctly - that this is analogous to a commercial contract where the contracting parties can of course agree for only specified means of the transfer of value.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, it is not a contract.But it is a legal duty to pay for council tax. They can use the powers of the criminal courts if necessary to force payment from people.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
The law of contract has no relevance.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They seem to be saying that you have paid the wrong account. If so, you have not discharged the liability.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They are free to say that this is not one of the specified means. This isn't the law of contract where UCTA would apply to strike down unfair terms. This is an obligation imposed by the state upon people - another tax. A tax is only discharged if you pay the right target. To use a ridiculous example, I may start paying the DWP instead of HMCT and argue that it makes no difference because they are both an emanation of the state but it is clearly not adequate.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I was just making clear that I didn't think the law of contract applied.
They have not responded yet. My understanding is that there is no legal distinction between funds owned in one bank account belonging to the Council and another belonging to the same council.There are legal distinctions between those department of state which I believe do not exist in this case.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, they won't respond. They will just summons and they will win.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I'm really sorry but I'm not going to be able to tell you that have discharged your obligations.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The "target" is providing pounds sterling in immediately available funds to the City of Westminster - you are saying I have missed the target. I am not sure I have. By what legal basis do District Councils have the power to preclude the most obvious a reasonable means of payment?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok. Best of luck with this. Opting out.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Well - you have given me your view - although I perhaps would have felt better off if you could refer me to the the legislation that deals with their freedom or otherwise to specify means of payment. I will ley you know how I get on - bye
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.What else would you like to know?Alex