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Non-payment of council tax and business rates

It's not normally my area of expertise, but I went to Thames Mags today for a non-payment of business rates case.

Straight forward case, business had left the premises before Christmas and the Council had failed to act on the letter and emails they had been sent.

The Council weren't willing to take a view on the case and discontinue proceedings immediately despite admitting that they had receiving the emails and had not acted upon them - although they denied receipt of the letter.  They suggested that we should simply agree to them applying for a Liability Order against us and that we could then have it withdrawn later on.

The very nice lady from the Council informed me that this is the usual way they deal with cases where there is a dispute.  I believe her as well.

Let's be clear on this, if you accept a Liability Order you are accepting you are liable to pay the debt!  In criminal law it's tantamount to pleading guilty to something you haven't done on the basis that you can always appeal later on once you've got your evidence together!  It is always harder to overturn something that you have accepted than it is to fight it off from the start.

That court room as was full of people accepting Liability Orders, at least some of them I am sure were accepting them incorrectly.

Incidentally, the lady handing out the advice was not a qualified lawyer.  I suspect the reason for that is simple.  A qualified lawyer would certainly have been in breach of their professional obligations by handing out impartial sounding advice to the person being prosecuted by their client and twisting that advice in favour of their client.

Courts are not fun places to be.  They are not there as a joke.  They do not make Orders for a laugh.  If you go along without a solicitor then you will be at the mercy of the court and the prosecution.


  1. Like company power bills, Business Rates are one of the biggest unavoidable costs for small company owners.

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  2. We have moved into serviced offices because the combination of high rents and business rates was taking too much out of the business. Also, means we no longer have gas or electricity bills to pay, which is a bonus.


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