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What happens if you don’t pay?

Last updated on: 09-Apr-2021

8. Committal proceedings

Committal action is not taken lightly and is only used as a last resort.

We will make an application to the Magistrates' Court for a warrant for your arrest to be issued. This document is then passed onto our Enforcement Agents for them to carry out.

You will be bailed to attend the Magistrates' Court for a specific date and the Enforcement Agent will provide you with an income and expenditure form that must be completed in preparation of the court date.

At the hearing the Clerk of the Court will ask you why the council tax hasn't been paid and will have to decide whether you have deliberately refused to pay, known as 'wilful refusal' or 'culpable neglect'.

The Clerk will ask you questions about your income and expenditure during the time the debt was payable this will help the Magistrate decide if you have deliberately avoided paying or neglected to pay.

The magistrate will review your current income and expenditure, they may ask you to explain this in more detail. They will then retire to make their decision.

Possible Outcomes

  • Court order with a suspended sentence – You will be ordered to pay a set amount for example £100 per month and told that if you do not keep to the payments you will go to prison for a set amount of time.
  • Committal to Prison – the Magistrates can send you to prison immediately.
  • Write off all or some of the debt – the magistrates can write off all or some of the council tax owed, if only some of the debt owed is written off the Magistrate may make a Court Order on the balance.
  • Adjournment – should more information or evidence be required before a decision can be made, the case can be postponed to a later date.

What if I fail to attend the Court Hearing?

If you don't appear in court an application will be made to the Magistrate for a warrant for arrest without bail. An Enforcement Officer or Police Officer can arrest you and take you straight to the Court to appear before the magistrate. You should seek independent legal advice once this procedure has started.


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