Difficulty paying your bill

5. Court hearings

If you do not attend, the hearing will go ahead without you and the liability order will be applied for. This is unless you have already paid the account, including costs, in full.

If you intend to attend the court hearing it is advisable to contact the customer contact centre on 0161 217 6014 to discuss your account.

If you choose to go to the court hearing, the magistrates will ask if you have a valid defence (PDF 36Kb). This will stop a liability order being granted.

What is a liability order?

A liability order is granted by the courts to give the council higher powers to recover the unpaid Council Tax.

First of all, if you have still not paid, or agreed an acceptable arrangement, you will be asked to provide details of your income. This is so the debt can be recovered by Attachment to Earnings or certain benefits.

An Attachment of Earning (PDF 32Kb) is calculated by a percentage of your net earnings after tax and national insurance.

If an attachment is not set up we would then consider passing the debt to an Enforcement Agent – previously known as a bailiff – to collect. This will incur additional enforcement agent fees (PDF 76Kb). The Enforcement Agent has the right to take control of goods in order to sell them to enforce the payment of debts.

If you don't make a suitable arrangement with the Enforcement Agent and you don't have enough goods to clear what you owe, we may decide to place a 'charging order' on your property. This allows us to collect the debt when the property is sold, or make you bankrupt.

We may even decide to ask the Magistrates to commit you to prison.

Don't forget, the sooner you let us know if you are having any difficulties paying your Council Tax the better.