A Liability Order can be issued if you have serious Council Tax arrears. As a result Bailiffs will visit your home and in extreme cases a prison sentence issued.
- What is a Liability Order?
- When could the Order be issued?
- Can you get the Order for CSA arrears?
- How to appeal a Liability Order
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What is a liability Order?
A Liability Order is a Court Order which can be issued by the Magistrates Court if you have serious council tax or business rates arrears and have failed to agree a suitable repayment plan with the local Council.
Once the Court has granted the Liability Order this will give the council the power to instruct bailiffs to visit your property to collect the money outstanding.
To prevent a liability order it is vital that you agree a repayment plan with your local Council or consider a debt management solution to deal with the debt especially if you owe money to a number of different creditors.
If a Bailiff has visited you but your debt remains unpaid you could face a prison sentence. As such it is very important to get debt advice if you have Council Tax arrears.
When is a Liability Order issued?
Your local Council will not take the decision to apply for a Liability Order against you lightly. They first have to go through a number of steps to try and help you pay your debt.
First they will issue you with a reminder notice and then a final notice. Only as a last resort will you receive a Court Summons. They should be willing to discuss reasonable repayment options at each of these stages.
However if you still refuse to pay or communicate with them they will then have no choice but to apply for a Liability Order.
Can a Liability Order be issued for CSA arrears?
The Child Support Agency can also apply to the Magistrates Court for a Liability Order in cases where arrears are not being paid. Normally the CSA will first use County Court action to try to deduct the money you owe from your wages using an attachment of earnings, benefits or bank account. However if this is not possible for example you are self employed and or not in receipt of benefits, the CSA can apply for a liability order.
Once a liability order has been granted the CSA can instruct bailiffs to visit your property and attempt to take your goods away or apply to court to place a charge on your property and subsequently an order to force the sale of your property. If these methods are not successful the CSA can apply to the court to issue you with a prison sentence.
How to Appeal a Liability Order
If the Magistrates Court has issued a liability order against you but you believe that this has been issued in error then you can apply to the Court for it to be set aside. It is absolutely essential to act fast as soon as you know or think there might be a liability order incorrectly made against you.
You must write immediately to the Magistrates Court which made the liability order and state you wish to apply to set it aside. There is no special application form – or fee – as for civil courts.
The issue when appealing against a Liability Order is that there is no standard appeal process. Because of this it is not unheard of for some court staff to tell people there is nothing they can do about a liability order, or for magistrates courts to reply to an application to set aside stating they cannot list/ there is no such application. If the Court refuses to listen to your appeal you must take legal advice or visit your local Citizens Advice Bureaux as soon as possible.
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