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Liability orders

Liability orders

If you receive a summons, and your case is taken to court, we'll ask the magistrate to issue a liability order. This gives us further options to collect the money that you owe.

If we obtain a liability order, you will be charged £35 in addition to the summons cost.

These options are:

  • issue an attachment of earnings order to your employer to take regular deductions from your salary 
  • deduct monies directly from your Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Guaranteed Pension Credit.
  • instruct Enforcement Agents (formally known as bailiffs) to collect the debt.
  • apply for a charging order on your property, which means we could force its sale to pay your council tax arrears, or the arrears will be paid out of the amount you get for any future sale.
  • start bankruptcy proceedings.
  • apply to the magistrates court for your committal to prison.

Attachment of earnings

Once a liability order has been issued by the magistrates, we have the authority to collect unpaid council tax by serving an order on your employer or the Department for Work and Pensions. This means that they will deduct money from your income and pay this to the council.

Your employer will take a percentage of your net earnings and send it to the council. This is at a rate set by the government and is non-negotiable. The deductions continue until the amount on the liability order is paid. If you change jobs, or stop working, you must tell us as soon as possible.

Attachment of benefits

We ask the Department for Work and Pensions to deduct money from your Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Guaranteed Pension Credit and pay this directly to us. Deductions continue until the amount on the liability order is fully paid, or until your benefit stops for any reason. It is not possible to make direct deductions from any other kind of benefit.

Enforcement agent action

If you haven't been in touch by the time the magistrates issue a liability order, and an attachment of earnings or benefit is not possible, we will instruct enforcement agents, previously known as bailiffs, to collect the outstanding sum of money. They will add the costs of doing this to your council tax debt. The more action they have to take, the more the costs will be.

Once the enforcement agent has been instructed, you will have to deal with him or her direct. We will not be involved again unless the enforcement agents are unable to recover the whole debt, and then it is possible you will have to go back to court. If enforcement agents can't find enough goods to remove, or can't gain access to a property they will tell the council. We then have no choice but to start committal action.

If you want to complain about the action taken by enforcement agents, please write directly to the enforcement agent company and they will investigate your complaint in accordance with their complaints procedure.

Bristow and Sutor Enforcement Agency

Dukes Enforcement Agency

Committal to prison for non-payment of council tax

If we have not been able to collect the money in any other way, the final option is to ask the magistrates court to issue a summons for you to attend a committal hearing. This means we will ask the magistrates to consider sending you to prison for non payment of Council Tax.

What happens in court?

At the hearing, you will be asked why the money has not been paid. The magistrates will then decide if you have deliberately refused or neglected to pay. You will also be expected to prepare information in advance of going to court. This will help the court decide whether you are able to pay and what you can afford. The magistrates may decide to commit you to prison for a maximum of 90 days.

You must attend a committal hearing. If you do not attend we will ask the magistrates to issue a warrant for your arrest, normally with bail.

This means that a warrant officer will come and arrest you, but will bail you to attend court at a later date. When you do appear, the process will be the same as explained above; however, you must expect to explain why you ignored the previous summons when you attend. If you miss the hearing again we will ask the magistrates to remove the bail from the warrant and this means that you will be arrested and taken straight to court.

Any warrant issued will incur further costs.

Managing debt advice

If you need help managing your debts to avoid further recovery action, you can contact Derbyshire Districts Citizens Advice. Their advice line is open Mon-Fri 9am - 4pm. The number to call is 0300 4568390.

Debt advice is also available on the Citizens Advice website.

The National Debt Advice Line is also available