Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Quash the Liability Order. Suspend Enforcement. Disputing Liabilities. Claim Damages for Misuse of Enforcement Power.
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outlawipcc
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#141 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 22 Jan 2016 18:03

Council reply to formal complaint.

The response is as unbelievable as ever. Notwithstanding that this is the second stage of the procedure, I'm informed that should I feel my complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved it can be escalated to stage 2 of the complaints process.

Again, the Council has refused to address the most serious matter, which is the fraudulently obtained liability order by means of perjury. Therefore, the Council has decided for me what my complaint concerned which it has generously upheld both points.

Scanning letter to post content.

outlawipcc
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#142 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 22 Jan 2016 18:36

19th January 2016

Mr outlawipcc
Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire

Private and Confidential


Dear Mr outlawipcc

I am writing in response to your stage 1 complaint received on 29 December 2015. As my role of investigating officer it is my responsibility to investigate your complaint and seek to resolve matters.

I have spoken to relevant personnel and read the supporting documentation as part of the investigation process. I will now attempt to address each of your concerns in turn.

You will be aware that much of the content of your letter falls outside the scope of the complaints process as it relates to your recent Liability order. Consequently there are only 2 points raised within your complaint that can be addressed

1) The late response to your correspondence received 10th November 2015

2) Your election that all payments and future payments are to be made to current years council
tax liability

Complaint 1: The late response to your correspondence received 10th November 2015

Whilst I have found no evidence of your allegation that the delay was a deliberate act designed to secure additional payments I do find that the council has fallen below its high standards for responding to correspondence in this matter. The situation is as Mr Smith detailed in his letter 21st December 2015.

The response had been prepared however it had not yet been sent. I agree that this should have been picked up before Mr Smith's return from illness

Outcome:
I do uphold this part of your complaint.


Complaint 2: Your election that all payments and future payments are to be made to current years council tax liability

As you know from the liability hearing 30th October 2015, the research you have undertaken in to allocation of payments case law and other information on the internet and freedom of information requests the allocation of payments is made upon payment.

Therefore election to payments may only take place when those payments are made or at any time from the payment being made until the Council takes legal action to establish the debt.

You are aware that the easiest method of making that election is to pay the correct amount at the correct time. As Mr Smith has said in the letter dated 13th November 2015 should you make payments that will not automatically be allocated to your current year we will be pleased to allocate those payments to which ever year you elect if made at a suitable time.

As regards your December payment this has been used to reduce your current years liability.

Outcome:
I do uphold this part of your complaint


As part of our efforts to continually improve services we consider learning from complaints to be an important part of developing our services to the community. Should you feel that your complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved, you can escalate to stage 2 of our complaints process where it will be reviewed by a senior officer. Please contact the complaints team should you wish to take your complaint to the next stage at the address below, by telephone on (01472) 326426 or email rescustomerservices@nelincs.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely

Alan French
North East Lincolnshire Council

outlawipcc
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#143 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 25 Jan 2016 15:05

Appeal Outcome of Local Resolution

APPEALS AGAINST THE OUTCOME OF LOCAL RESOLUTION

Blah, Blah......

Do you agree with the outcome of the local resolution?

Blah, Blah......

......Clearly all my correspondence had been ignored and the local resolution process completed with the decision indicating that the force was ignorant or did not have any regard for the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (the “2015 Act”).


Corrupt or other improper exercise of police powers and privileges

An officer commits an offence under subsections (5) and (6) of Section 26 of the 2015 Act by failing to exercise a power for the purpose of achieving the detriment of another person. There has clearly been a failure in exercising police powers by wrongly advising that the matter does not concern the Police as it is civil. Had the force exercised its powers and investigated the crime (an open and shut case) NELC would not be entitled to the fraudulent proceeds, which may potentially be added to with further fraudulent sums. The failure to exercise its power to investigate has therefore caused me a financial loss which is likely to continue to my detriment and intensify in the passing of time.

The suitability test for local resolution

Independent Police Complaints Commission’s (IPCC) published practical guidance on handling complaints etc., includes a test for establishing whether a complaint is suitable for local resolution or investigation. The relevant part of the test for assessing suitability for local resolution, as quoted from the August 2014 issue (Focus), is as follows:
The suitability test
A complaint is suitable for local resolution if the appropriate authority is satisfied:

a. the conduct being complained about, even if proven, would not justify criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the person being complained about...
Applying the IPCC test correctly should have determined the local resolution process unsuitable and a full investigation carried out instead, because failure to exercise a police power, combined with that failure causing a financial loss, would justify criminal proceedings under Section 26 of the 2015 Act. The guidance also states. ‘if there is doubt about a complaint being suitable for local resolution, err on the side of caution and conduct an investigation’. The following provides clarification:
The test is whether the conduct complained about, even if proven, would not justify criminal or disciplinary proceedings. Therefore, when considering if the conduct would justify the bringing of proceedings, there should be no consideration of the strength of the evidence, whether the complaint is likely to be upheld, or the likeliness of prosecution.

When assessing a complaint using the suitability test, the complaint should be taken at face value, focusing on the substance of the conduct being complained about. The decision should not be based on the wording of the complaint alone (the relevant appeal body test is applied in this way). It also should not be based on reviewing the evidence available and exploring the likely outcome (the special requirements test on investigations is applied in this way).

The person assessing the complaint’s seriousness should consider contacting the complainant to better understand their complaint and to get further information. A mini-investigation to assess the strength of evidence for the complaint (such as getting custody records, incident logs, speaking to the officers concerned, etc) should not be conducted. If the evidence does not support the complaint then the complaint is not upheld following an investigation, it does not make it any more suitable for local resolution.

It is possible for a complaint that uses exaggerated language to be locally resolved, but the right of appeal is to the IPCC. It is also possible for a complaint to be deemed unsuitable for local resolution, but then the appointed investigating officer, upon reviewing the evidence, does not apply special requirements to the subsequent investigation.
Do you feel the outcome was a proper outcome?

The outcome was wholly inappropriate as the investigating officer based his response solely with regard to the court case being that the judge’s determination was to grant a liability order. In doing so, the fraudulent application for the liability order made by NELC – which is a criminal allegation in isolation from the judge’s conduct – has been allowed to avoid scrutiny. The evidence provided is conclusive and to be overlooked strongly suggests that Humberside police engages in a practice which overlooks its duty to the taxpayer in favour of shielding the local authority from justice.

The outcome has also wrongly been determined on advice obtained from the ‘Force Solicitors’. That advice was based on the assumption that the issues ‘may be appeal points that could be raised at any subsequent appeal hearings’. The proceedings involved defending NELC’s application for a liability order for non-payment of Council Tax. In that regard the opportunity exists for the defendant to appeal a decision to the High Court either by way of a case stated or judicial review. Both are in any event unreasonable procedures for an ordinary taxpayer to have to embark upon with it likely taking years (if ever) to succeed in having the case brought before the Queens bench. Moreover any such appeal would involve civil proceedings and concern a challenge to the relevant legislation governing Council Tax administration and/or enforcement, therefore, representations involving criminal law would not be considered appeal points that could be raised in those proceedings.

outlawipcc
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#144 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 27 Jan 2016 08:07

Escalating Formal complaint to the final stage.
North East Lincolnshire Council
Finance Department
Civic Offices Knoll Street

26 January 2016

Dear Mr French

Re: Council tax Ref: 550xzzzxyz – Formal Complaint (NEL/1172/1516)

Your response dated 19 January 2016 to my stage 1 complaint has not satisfactorily addressed my issues and therefore I wish to escalate the matter to the final stage of the formal complaints procedure.

Regarding my instructions that all payments I make in future are allocated to the current year’s liability, I’m assuming from the context of your response that you did not uphold this element, even though your declaration is to the contrary. In any event, I disagree with the council’s decision not to consider these instructions acceptable but do not intend reiterating the points I have already made. In that matter I’m at a loss to know how your perception is that my representations conclude that the debtor may only elect the account to which payment is allocated at the time it is made.

Turning to the council’s 6 weeks delay in responding to my November correspondence. Though this element has been upheld, my December payment, which I have expressly elected to be allocated to my 2016-17 account, has been allocated to reduce this year’s liability. Given that I would never have made this payment had the information received been sent sooner, then it is reasonable that the council, which was at fault, should make amends by reallocating the payment or refunding it. The council must be aware that I intended – and intend – making no payment to the £60 costs which are subject to the High Court appeal from 2012/13 nor the fraudulently £60 costs obtained in respect of the 2015-16 tax year.

Whilst you imply that the issue is a rarity, re falling ‘below its high standards for responding’, don’t forget that the response time for dealing with an almost identical issue in October 2014 was 4 weeks.

Liability order

Lastly there is no reason why the council should assert that the concerns raised about the Liability order falls outside the scope of the complaints process.

The Local Government Act 2003 introduced into the Local Government Finance Act 1992 the provision enabling the secretary of state to make regulations giving magistrates' courts powers to quash a liability order if it was satisfied that one should not have been made. The explanatory notes to the 2003 Act describes the only avenue available for this before the provision which is as follows:

At present, this can only be achieved on application to a higher court. The cost involved is unwarranted where there is no dispute about the facts."

I understand the above means a defendant may only appeal a decision to the High Court either by way of a case stated or judicial review. As implied, both are unreasonable procedures for an ordinary person to have to embark upon with it likely taking years (if ever) to succeed in having the case brought before the court. There is no dispute either about the facts in this case.

The application was made because the council had misallocated monies to a sum subject to appeal on the basis that it believed the case had been withdrawn and the sum no longer suspended. The appeal had never been withdrawn and the simple fact is that the council could not have believed it had by the incriminating evidence in the form of Exhibits which supported its witness statement. It has the minimum duty to apply to the Magistrates to have the liability order quashed as it has been brought to the council’s attention that the application should never have been made.

Moreover, the same can be done with respect to the 2012-13 liability order because it has been confirmed in the May 2015 High Court ruling, R (Nicolson) v Tottenham Magistrates [2015] EWHC 1252 (Admin), that the liability order was obtained unlawfully.

It should be emphasised that the granting of costs without sufficient relevant information to support them, did not become unlawful on account of the High Court judgment. Even before 6 May 2015, it will have been required that the court had before it that information to enable reaching a proper judicial determination. The position had merely been confirmed in the Tottenham Magistrates case.

Yours sincerely

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Hopeless
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#145 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by Hopeless » 28 Jan 2016 23:30

outlawipcc wrote:Council reply to formal complaint.

The response is as unbelievable as ever. Notwithstanding that this is the second stage of the procedure, I'm informed that should I feel my complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved it can be escalated to stage 2 of the complaints process.

Again, the Council has refused to address the most serious matter, which is the fraudulently obtained liability order by means of perjury.
Therefore, the Council has decided for me what my complaint concerned which it has generously upheld both points.
Scanning letter to post content.

Hi Outlaw,

I am sorry if I sound 'negative', but here goes. What happens... if nothing happens after final stage of complaint?

The problem is... the magistrates' court will always take the side of the council. I saw first-hand just how 'chummy' the court and council employees were.

I have now made a complaint with the local police force and they are progressing it.. Same woman. Jason, you should remember her. She came over and spoke to us when we were at Chippenham.

I have also started claim against council. There is pre-action protocol to follow. Best to expedite and remove delays.

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#146 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 29 Jan 2016 15:37

I haven't looked at your case because I closed it when you said you no longer required my services.
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#147 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 08 Feb 2016 22:28

NELC has given a deadline for delivering its final response to the formal complaint. The police have confirmed receipt of the appeal. Whilst awaiting replies a draft has been made for starting a prosecution in the Magistrates' court. The police can have it to start with and failing a positive response, i.e., they take appropriate action. it will served on the court officer at Grimsby Magistrates' court.

Draft of Section 1 Magistrates Court information
GRIMSBY AND CLEETHORPES
MAGISTRATES’ COURT (Code 1940)

xx February 2016

STARTING A PROSECUTION IN A MAGISTRATES’ COURT
(Magistrates’ Courts Act, s 1)

STATEMENT OF OFFENCE

Failure under subsections (5) and (6) of Section 26 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 to exercise a power for the purpose of achieving the detriment of another person

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE

On 11 November 2015, an officer serving with Humberside Police, Gillian Morley, 9614 failed in exercising police powers by responding to a reported offence of perjury to defraud, that the matter did not concern the Police as it was civil.

STATEMENT OF INFORMANT

1. On 8 November 2015 the following report was submitted to Humberside Police via its website facility for reporting non-emergency crimes:

North East Lincolnshire Council produced a false witness statement (thereby committing perjury) with regards a council tax liability hearing at Grimsby Magistrates' Court. The District Judge (Daniel Curtis) was aware that the evidence surrounded a false and corrupt statement, but nevertheless granted the council a liability order to enforce a fraudulent sum which presently stands at £120.00. This sum is likely to increase if the council appoints its criminal firm of bailiffs, Rossendales. My allegations are that the council has committed perjury with the intent to fraudulently obtain money from me by the use of Grimsby Magistrates court and that Judge Daniel Curtis has perverted the course of justice by being complicit to that crime.”

2. On 11 November 2015, Humberside Police responded by wrongly stating that the reported crime (one punishable as an offence whether occurring in criminal or civil proceedings), was a civil matter, thereby improperly exercising police powers.

With regards to your report that was submitted to Humberside Police on 08/11/2015.....please be advised that this is not a Police matter and is civil which I suggest you seek further advice from a solicitor/legal advisor.”

3. The crime report followed proceedings instituted by North East Lincolnshire council (NELC) to enforce council tax liability at Grimsby Magistrates' Court. The original hearing 2 October 2015 identified issues and so the matter adjourned to 30 October.

4........

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#148 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 09 Feb 2016 09:33

GRIMSBY AND CLEETHORPES
MAGISTRATES’ COURT (Code 1940)

xx February 2016


STATEMENT OF COMPLAINANT
(Magistrates’ Courts Act, s 1)



On 8 November 2015 the following omplaint was given to Humberside Police.

  • “North East Lincolnshire Council produced a false witness statement (thereby committing perjury) with regards a council tax liability hearing at Grimsby Magistrates' Court. The District Judge (Daniel Curtis) was aware that the evidence surrounded a false and corrupt statement, but nevertheless granted the council a liability order to enforce a fraudulent sum which presently stands at £120.00. This sum is likely to increase if the council appoints its criminal firm of bailiffs, Rossendales. My allegations are that the council has committed perjury with the intent to fraudulently obtain money from me by the use of Grimsby Magistrates court and that Judge Daniel Curtis has perverted the course of justice by being complicit to that crime.”

On 11 November 2015 an officer of Humberside Police, Gillian Morley, 9614 said this is a civil matter and responded with the following:

  • “With regards to your report that was submitted to Humberside Police on 08/11/2015.....please be advised that this is not a Police matter and is civil which I suggest you seek further advice from a solicitor/legal advisor.”

Background.

On 02 October 2015, North East Lincolnshire council (“NELC”) applied for a liability order at Grimsby Magistrates' Court under regulation 34 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992

. say what happened next...


If this is about reclaiming Liability order fees, then I have a solicitor from Northampton who is looking for anyone who has paid these fees and set up a programme to reclaim these in bulk.
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#149 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 10 Feb 2016 21:38

jasonDWB wrote:
GRIMSBY AND CLEETHORPES
MAGISTRATES’ COURT (Code 1940)

xx February 2016


STATEMENT OF COMPLAINANT
(Magistrates’ Courts Act, s 1)



On 8 November 2015 the following omplaint was given to Humberside Police.

  • “North East Lincolnshire Council produced a false witness statement (thereby committing perjury) with regards a council tax liability hearing at Grimsby Magistrates' Court. The District Judge (Daniel Curtis) was aware that the evidence surrounded a false and corrupt statement, but nevertheless granted the council a liability order to enforce a fraudulent sum which presently stands at £120.00. This sum is likely to increase if the council appoints its criminal firm of bailiffs, Rossendales. My allegations are that the council has committed perjury with the intent to fraudulently obtain money from me by the use of Grimsby Magistrates court and that Judge Daniel Curtis has perverted the course of justice by being complicit to that crime.”

On 11 November 2015 an officer of Humberside Police, Gillian Morley, 9614 said this is a civil matter and responded with the following:

  • “With regards to your report that was submitted to Humberside Police on 08/11/2015.....please be advised that this is not a Police matter and is civil which I suggest you seek further advice from a solicitor/legal advisor.”

Background.

On 02 October 2015, North East Lincolnshire council (“NELC”) applied for a liability order at Grimsby Magistrates' Court under regulation 34 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992

. say what happened next...
If this is about reclaiming Liability order fees, then I have a solicitor from Northampton who is looking for anyone who has paid these fees and set up a programme to reclaim these in bulk.
Thanks! The draft was sent to Humberside police yesterday for comments. The force however is currently going through a phase of ignoring correspondence so is unlikely it will respond any time soon. Will take on board the suggestion and make amendments to future draft.

In this case it's more about having the perjury addressed and having the Liability order quashed than reclaiming the costs.

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#150 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 10 Feb 2016 21:40

Do you want me to see if I can get you a solicitors consultation and bring an action against the police?

email me jason (at) dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk
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#151 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 11 Feb 2016 09:36

jasonDWB wrote:Do you want me to see if I can get you a solicitors consultation and bring an action against the police?

email me jason (at) dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk
Thanks. Sent email.

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#152 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Feb 2016 15:46

Got it, call me when ready
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#153 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 20 Feb 2016 09:41

I found this a touch ironic as it relates to the same local authority which defrauded me (backed by the court and police) by making a false statement.

Dishonest couple falsely claimed £41,000 in benefit and tax credits
....admitted three offences involving making false statements and dishonestly failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of a change in her circumstances, affecting her entitlement to benefits and child tax credits.

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#154 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 09 Mar 2016 20:42

outlawipcc wrote:NELC has given a deadline for delivering its final response to the formal complaint.
25 working days from 27th January is today but no final response yet.
outlawipcc wrote:The police have confirmed receipt of the appeal. Whilst awaiting replies a draft has been made for starting a prosecution in the Magistrates' court. The police can have it to start with and failing a positive response, i.e., they take appropriate action it will served on the court officer at Grimsby Magistrates' court.

Draft of Section 1 Magistrates Court information
No comment from the police regarding the proposal to lay an information in the Magistrates' court and so the application was served on the court. Confirmation today that this has been passed on for consideration.

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#155 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 14 Mar 2016 13:48

Pote Snitkin wrote:You mention Peters v Anderson, but this is 200 years old. Doesn't the Miskin case hold more sway?
Going back to the original issues (before the criminal matter came to light) i.e., payment misallocation. There is a strong case to argue in support of council's having a duty to ensure unspecified payments are never allocated to a previous year's debt if doing so would put the current year's liability in arrears.

It has been discovered that a number of local authorities have their systems set so that payments which do not match a set instalment amount are allocated to the most recent account, the majority appear not to thus causing the potential to irresponsibly trigger enforcement. Although the authority in the following example has its system set to post payments to the oldest account in these circumstances, it does manually reallocate them in accordance with "notes" listed on the account.

But more relevant to these issues, and apparently in accordance with the judgment in R v Miskin Lower justices, payment would also be allocated to the current year if allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt would put the current year's liability also in arrears.

(Q). 1st March 2016
Am I correct in understanding that additional to the inference "from the account notes or payment arrangements listed on the account", if it is likely that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt would put the current year's liability ALSO in arrears, the payment would be allocated to the current year?

It would, after all, be implied which debt payment was intended if allocating monies to an older balance would likely put the current year's liability in arrears. It would seem that the anomaly could be largely eliminated by setting the system to allocate payments which do not match a debt instalment to the current year's liability and at the same time complying more fully with the judgment in R v Miskin Lower justices.
(A). 14 March 2016
Am I correct in understanding that additional to the inference "from the account notes or payment arrangements listed on the account", if it is likely that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt would put the current year's liability ALSO in arrears, the payment would be allocated to the current year?

Yes this is correct.

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#156 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 15 Mar 2016 18:02

The Council served its final response to the 'Formal Complaint' this morning. It ignored all the salient points to steer the response in the direction of the 6 week delay in answering correspondence. It continues burying its head in the sand regarding the mafia style it has adopted in dealing with council taxpayers;- refusing to confront the criminal way it has involved the Magistrates' court with the Liability Order.

NELC refers to an LGO 'Decision Statement' which has nothing to do with this complaint and goes to show how little attention is paid. The response is about a week over due because, as was confirmed to me, the Chief Executive was giving it his approval. That means I have the person's name who is ultimately responsible for the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.

Will post it's final response when all relevant correspondence referred to in it has been redacted and so on.

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#157 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 15 Mar 2016 18:29

Council Response 14th March 2016

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Mr Yyyyy,

I refer to the letter dated 03 February 2016 in which it was confirmed that your complaint had been escalated to the final stage of the Council's complaints procedure. The issues you have raised have been investigated which has included a review of the stage 1 response. This investigation has been undertaken independently of the officers that have previously handled your complaint.

The enclosed investigating officer's report details the findings of this investigation which I consider has been correctly and fairly carried out in accordance with the Council's Feedback Policy. Please accept are apologies for the element of your complaint which was found to be upheld.

If you are not satisfied with this response and the outcome of your complaint, you have the right to take the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman, whose contact details are as follows:
  • LGO Advice Team
    The Local Government Ombudsman
    PO Box 4771
    Coventry CV40EH
    Tel: 0845 602 1983
    Fax: 024 7682 0001
I would like to thank you for bringing these issues to the Council's attention. This has been, of necessity, a formal response driven by our Feedback Policy and procedures, designed to ensure full, fair and impartial examination of concerns which arise. I am personally always very keen to see how we can improve our services and learning from complaints is one way of achieving this. Although you may not be happy about all aspects of my conclusions, I am hoping you will accept that this matter has had proper consideration.

Yours sincerely


Rob Walsh
Chief Executive


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
North East Lincolnshire Council

Stage 2 Corporate Complaint Investigation


PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Assistant Director: Sally Jack (Assistant Director – Joint Delivery)
Service Area: Council Tax
Investigating Officer: Susan Harrison (Customer Management Service Manager)
Complaint Reference: NEL/1172/1516


Final decision of Investigating Officer:

The complaint is partially upheld with respect to the delays in receiving a response to correspondence.

Summary of complaint:

Mr Yyyyy’s formal complaint dated 26th January 2016 is summarised below:
  • 1. The Council’s 6 week delay in responding to his correspondence dated 10th November 2015

    2. The Council asserts that the concerns raised about the Liability Order falls outside the scope of the complaints process
How the complaint was considered:

Susan Harrison, Investigating Officer, considered the complaint by conducting:

A full review of the documents provided in relation to all stages of Mr Yyyyy’s complaint:
Susan Harrison interviewed:
  • • Debt Management Manager on Monday, 8th February 2016
    • Court Enforcement Manager on Monday, 8th February 2016
    • Information Governance and Complaints Officer, Monday, 8th February 2016
The Council's Corporate Feedback Policy V03–2, Section B:3

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) Decision Statement, Ref No 15016673 dated 24th February 2016.

It was not considered necessary to meet the complainant as the letters of complaint and background information provided enough detail to ensure full consideration of the issues.
Findings:
  • 1. The Council’s 6 week delay in responding to his correspondence dated 10th November 2015. Mr N Smith responded to Mr Yyyyyy by letter offering an apology dated 21st December 2015. Furthermore this was upheld at stage 1 of the complaints process and communicated to Mr Yyyyy in a formal letter dated 29th January 2016. The Council did fall below its high standards for responding to correspondence in this matter and for that the Council apologises again.

This complaint remains upheld.
  • 2. The Council asserts that the concerns raised about the Liability Order falls outside the scope of the complaints process. The Council's Corporate Feedback Policy V03–2, Appendix B:3 states that "a complaint that is being dealt with or was previously dealt with by legal proceedings” is outside the scope of the Council's complaints process. As a result of Mr Yyyyyy prematurely lodging a complaint with the LGO prior to the findings of the Council's investigations, the Council finds the same as the LGO in its Decision Statement, Ref No 15016673 dated 24th February 2016. “The Ombudsman may not consider matters which are subject to the commencement of court proceedings, regardless of the outcome”. The Council considers that Mr Yyyyy’s complaints have been appropriately dealt with by the LGO and therefore the Council fully agrees with the Ombudsman’s final decision.
This complaint is not upheld

Details of final recommendations:

This investigation has found that the Council acted in accordance with the Regulations and Guidance at all times.

The recommendation is that, wherever it is possible, for teams to share deadlines where they are likely to occur during periods of absence. It is acknowledged, however, that where absence is unexpected this may not always be met.

Mr Yyyyy has asked that complaints be responded to within prescribed deadlines and the Council will strive to achieve this, wherever possible. Mr Yyyyy has been given an apology for the delay in responding to his initial communication on 10th November 2015. It should also be highlighted that although this delay should not have happened it has had no detrimental impact on the complainant.

Mr Yyyyy has asked for his concerns raised in relation to the Liability Order to be considered within the Council’s complaint process. The Council is in agreement with the LGO that they may not consider matters which are subject to the commencement of court proceedings, regardless of the outcome.

Investigators decision on behalf of the Chief Executive:

Susan Harrison

Assistant Director:

Sally Jack

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#158 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 21 Mar 2016 19:12

COMPLAINT TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN
(Part III of the Local Government Act 1974)

AGAINST
NORTH EAST LINCOLNSHIRE COUNCIL


21 March 2016

List of Annexes:

Annex A: Council’s 14 March 2016 final response
Annex B: 10 November 2015 email query to Council
Annex C: 17 December 2015 formal complaint letter to Council
Annex D: Council’s 21 December 2015 cover letter
Annex E: Council’s 13 November 2015 response [see above Annex D]
Annex F: 25 December 2015 second formal complaint letter to Council
Annex G: Council’s 19 January 2016 first stage formal complaint response
Annex H: 26 January 2016 third formal complaint letter to Council

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BODY DID WRONG?

The complaint surrounds North East Lincolnshire Council (the “Council”) engineering default in circumstances where payments were made in sufficient amount to meet the legal obligation I was under to pay the sums set out on the demand notice relating to my 2015/16 Council Tax liability.

The Council misallocated payments to a previous year’s balance, thus leaving a shortfall in respect of the current year’s account (that which the payment was intended). The presumed cause being that an instalment was met from two transactions, and with neither payment matching the instalment amount set for the current council tax year the system automatically posted it to the oldest balance. Payment however at least covered the amount owed at all times and was for part of the period in credit.

The Council’s right to appropriate payment did not arise on account of the transaction not matching an instalment amount (not if doing so put the current year's liability in arrears). According to established appropriation laws, a debtor’s election may take an implied form, as well as expressed. Therefore, where payment is unspecified, it would be implied that the payment was intended for the account most beneficial to the debtor to reduce, which would clearly be the current year's, if allocating monies to another balance would put the current year’s account in arrears.

R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953) held that where an amount so obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere. Billing Authorities are able to set parameters in their revenue system so when payment amounts are not recognised, monies are allocated to the current year. The anomalies caused by automation are largely eliminated because of this since it ensures debtors do not incur additional costs through subsequent recovery applications. This is in agreement with the judgment in R v Miskin Lower justices, as it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate monies to a sum in arrears if it is likely to also put the current year's liability in arrears.

Note:

A process that relies on automation such as the council tax payments system, will inevitably present a flexibility–efficiency tradeoff. Having the system set so unmatched payments are posted to the most recent account has to achieve greater compliance with the general principles which allow for implied payments, simply because the authority could not reasonably assume that the debtor would elect the oldest balance, knowing his current due payment was deficient and incur further expense. This approach would, for reasons self-evident, require less manual adjustment with respect to reallocating unmatched payments rendering the automated aspect of the process more compliant with the judgment in R v Miskin Lower justices.

It is apparently standard practice, whichever way their systems are set, for billing authorities to regularly check unmatched payments to ascertain which account payment is intended, if there are arrears outstanding. However, what fundamentally matters (after initial payment allocation) is for the appropriation of those unmatched to the current year's liability if allocating payment to the oldest debt would put the current year's liability also in arrears.

Balance suspended from enforcement

The balance to which monies were misallocated by the council was in any event suspended from enforcement. Therefore, notwithstanding that the council’s right to appropriate payment did not arise, even if it had for whatever reason, it should have become immediately obvious from the account notes that the sum was subject to court proceedings. As there has been no outcome yet to the proceedings the suspension has not been lifted and the sum remains suspended. It was clear from my current council tax bill alone that the suspension had not been lifted as it was itemised separately and described as a sum ‘subject to court proceedings’. The relevant part of the council tax bill states under the header ‘Memorandum Note’ as follows:
  • “Your instalments for 2015/16 do not include your 2014/15 account balance
    As at 27-FEB-2015 your 2014/15 Council Tax account balance is 60.00
    60.00 of the total is subject to court proceedings
Linking matter of complaint to court proceedings

The Council has refused to address the complaint with the justification being that it raises matters about a Liability Order and so falls outside the scope of the complaints process.

It has been reiterated over the course of the complaint that the matter concerns payment misallocation. The council has taken it upon itself to redefine the matter so it appears to concern court proceedings for the obvious reason that it can deny me the opportunity of a just outcome to the formal complaint. Moreover, there is evidence this has been done in anticipating that the matter will be escalated to the LGO in the hope that its handiwork will fall in the hands of an acquiescent officer assigned to preliminary assess the complaint.

The summons charge, to which no further sum is added on being granted the liability order, was applied to my account on or around the 15 September 2015, approximately two weeks before the application for a liability order was made to the Magistrates court. Therefore, the summons charge, which the council is claiming to be the matter of complaint, even if it was, concerned solely its actions, as the court has no jurisdiction over costs until the case is brought before the court.

Other matters

It would be negligent if I omitted to point out the disingenuous claim by the council which implies that its failure in responding within a reasonable time-frame is a rarity. I have from the same department had to wait four weeks for a reply in relation to a previous matter and even after the council had made the claim in its first stage response, the final response exceeded its own deadline by a week.

The matter regarding my election for all payments to be allocated to the current year's liability, whether or not a sum matches an instalment amount, which was improperly addressed in the first stage response (and contended), was entirely ignored in the final response.

HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOU?

The error has caused the inconvenience of having to dispute the council's actions and the subsequent refusal to cooperate has caused the need to escalate the matter via the council’s formal complaints mechanism and of course enter into a complaint with the LGO. These actions alone have taken a significant amount of time and caused gross inconvenience. However the further consequences, which I would be prudent not to refer to in this complaint, have added substantially to that gross inconvenience.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BODY SHOULD DO TO PUT THINGS RIGHT?

The council was not entitled to allocate payment to the balance it did and therefore it should be reallocated to the account to which it was intended.

According to the council, there is an outstanding sum of £211 in respect of my 2015/16 council tax liability. If the effects of the error were put right, it would require that the misallocated payment of £60 is reallocated to the 2015/16 account (restoring the previous outstanding balance); the £60 penalty added September 2015 would have been invalid and so require removing from my account. The remaining sum outstanding would be £91 which I would then be able to settle without fear of further maladministration attributable to the council allocating it wrongly.

The council has implied in its 13 November 2015 letter that it does not intend allocating all future payments in accordance with my election. In order to clarify this I instructed the council, as I am lawfully entitled, that unless there were express instructions (in writing) to the contrary, payment should be allocated to the current year's liability, whether or not a sum matches an instalment amount.

The seriousness of the failure to take these measures can not be over stated. Prompt action is required to ensure that the immediate consequences of the error are remedied and also to prevent unwarranted enforcement measures that may otherwise follow. Should the error not be remedied it is likely a constant cycle of recovery action will result, incurring additional costs which will accumulate over time to be sufficient in amount that the council will achieve its clearly vindictive aim of justifying taking action such as bankruptcy or imposing a custodial sentence.

It would be reasonable to expect the council offer payment of a suitable amount firstly as compensation for the error, and secondly for its intransigence by refusing to cooperate, causing the added inconvenience I'm being put to.

Annex A to H .......

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#159 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 29 Mar 2016 18:56

outlawipcc wrote:
jasonDWB wrote:I'm not sure if Action Fraud will look at it unless a company of person is the fraudster. You might be better to do a section 1 complaint and lay it before the court. The Clerk will say whether there is a case to answer.
Action Fraud seems to be a complete joke. It's the government's attempt to automate the detection of crime and at the same time saving money. It's effectively policing by computer database, as investigations are only triggered by the processing system being able to match certain key words and phrases from submitted reports.

However, that does tell you something, if enough people who are scammed this way by their local authorities, who do submit reports through Action Fraud, hopefully the system will find enough key words and phases to trigger the required police action.
Quote from Action Fraud's Assessment: NFRC151001196853
  • "When the report was made to us, we recorded the incident in our database as a fraud crime. However, since then, the circumstances have been reviewed in accordance with Home Office rules governing how police record all crime. As a result, the NFIB has decided that on this occasion we are no longer recording the incident you have reported as a crime."
I get it.....fiddling statistics reduces crime.

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#160 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 29 Mar 2016 19:44

You need to ask (or do an FOI) to obtain a copy of the Home Office rules governing how police record crime:
reviewed in accordance with Home Office rules governing how police record all crime.
Once you have the answer, can you post it here?

I may have to ask for Parliament to suggest a review of those rules - whatever those rules may be.

I then need to see whether those rules contradict Parliament's intention when it legislated its definition of fraud.
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#161 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 30 Mar 2016 19:57

Some questions are being asked regarding the "Home Office rules governing how police record all crime". Meanwhile another response has arrived concerning the judge, this time the Judicial Appointments & Conduct Ombudsman.

The outcome is as predictable as ever. All sense of what an Ombudsman's objective should be has been lost. It's a challenge to them for which they almost seem proud that they've been successful in applying the law to justify rejecting the complaint for consideration. They must at some point realise that the public are not that stupid not to have latched on to the fact that the laws governing these statutory complaints procedures have been solely enacted to enable unaccountability.

Ombudsman’s investigation Report (29 March 2016)

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#162 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 30 Mar 2016 20:27

Judicial Appointments & Conduct Ombudsman

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
29 March 2016

Dear Mr Yyyyyy

Your complaint

Thank you for your correspondence with my officers setting out your concerns about the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office’s handling of your complaint.

Your case was passed to an Investigating Officer who made some initial enquiries with the JCIO. I have now completed a preliminary Investigation into your complaint and I enclose a copy of my report. I do not believe a review is necessary as there is no prospect of any finding of maladministration.

I realise that this will be a disappointment to you, but would like to assure you that I considered both the handling of your complaint and the points you raised most carefully.

Yours sincerely,


Mr Paul Kernaghan CBE


JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS AND CONDUCT OMBUDSMAN’S REPORT
COMPLAINT BY MR XXXX YYYYYY


Introduction

Mr Xxxx Yyyyyy wrote to me on 2 December 2015 and asked me to review the investigation carried out by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) in relation to the complaint he had raised against District Judge Daniel Curtis (DJ Curtis) who heard his case at Grimsby Magistrates Court on 30 October 2015

My remit

In accordance with Section 110(2) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, I am required to review a complaint where 3 conditions have been met, the first of which is that I consider a review to be necessary. My remit specifically precludes me from reviewing decisions taken by those considering conduct complaints; I can look only at the process by which those complaints were handled. I enclose a copy of the relevant part of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

Mr Yyyyyy’s complaint to me

Mr Yyyyyy disagreed with the JCIO's assessment of his complaint and stated his belief that he had made a complaint, in accordance with the Rules and which coincided with the misconduct descriptions set out on the JCIO's website, about DJ Curtis' conduct. In particular, he disagreed with an example used by the caseworker which suggested that a judge's bias was not a conduct matter. He also suggested that the caseworker had incorrectly thought that his complaint related to an ongoing high court appeal that he had mentioned.

In terms of redress, Mr Yyyyyy stated:
  • “I am disgusted with how the justice system operates. There is simply no accountability for judges making appallingly bad decisions with the emphasis on bias towards the authorities. If what I've seen of it is typical I hope that my compliant goes some way to reforming the system which is apparently corrupt to the core. A start would be to investigate why the judge in my case granted a liability order knowing that a false statement had been made by the claimant with the intention to defraud me.”
My decision

I have decided that Mr Yyyyyy's complaint does not warrant a full investigation. In reaching this conclusion, I am commenting solely on the process by which the JCIO considered the complaint. I cannot comment on the merits of the JCIO's decision or on Mr Yyyyyy's case.

Factors taken into account

I have taken the following factors into account in reaching my decision:
  • • Mr Yyyyyy’s views, as expressed in his correspondence with my office and previously with the JCIO;

    • The JCIO’s response to preliminary enquiries; and

    • The JCIO’s papers regarding the handling of the complaint.
Mr Yyyyyy’s complaint to the JCIO

On 7 November 2015, Mr Yyyyyy submitted a complaint against DJ Curtis to the JCIO. He summarised his concerns about DJ Curtis' conduct into four categories: a) professional misconduct; b) criminal allegations; c) inappropriate comments / discrimination; and d) misuse of judicial powers. Specifically, he stated that DJ Curtis:
  • • was guilty of professional misconduct because he had predetermined the case in the Council's favour and therefore refused to listen to or understand any evidence to the contrary. He suggested that DJ Curtis had put on a show of ineptitude and incompetence in order to mask this agenda;

    • was guilty of perverting the course of justice because, in his bias towards the Council - in particular, in his acceptance of their perspective on the High Court case and, therefore, on Mr Yyyyyy's liability - he did not allow Mr Yyyyyy a fair hearing;

    • had adopted a manner that was "antagonistic and belittling", in particular in his reference to Mr Yyyyyy's evidence as "an outburst of political diatribe for which only five minutes made any sense". He believed this comment to be unwarranted and tactless. He also felt the judge had acted beyond his authority in considering irrelevant matters and had again been biased towards the council in his suggestion that an incident of previous maladministration was Mr Yyyyyy's fault and in his subsequent decision to remove his statutory entitlement to pay by installments; and

    • had failed to "carry out his duties in an unbiased way". He said that the judge had acted outside his powers and breached regulations governing council tax liability by granting the order and related penalty. He alleged that the judge had done this to satisfy his "own perverse gratification" and in spite of Mr Yyyyyy's proof that there was no outstanding debt.
On 27 November 2015 the JCIO informed Mr Yyyyyy that it was rejecting his complaint under rule 8 of the Judicial Conduct (Judicial and other office holders) Rules 2014 [Hereafter the Rules] as it did not contain an allegation of misconduct on the part of a judicial officer holder.

The JCIO explained that Mr Yyyyyy's complaint related to judicial decision and case management and that it was unable to investigate, challenge or question these judicial functions. It noted that part of a judge's function is to weigh up the evidence presented to them and apply the law accordingly and that in exercising this function they have the discretion to determine the evidence they are willing to consider and the matters they wish to explore in a hearing.

They also explained that judges are entitled to respond to parties' evidence and noted that DJ Curtis' closing comments in relation to Mr Yyyyyy's submission would not be a matter of misconduct as they related to his handling of the case in court.

In terms of Mr Yyyyyy's allegations of errors in law and bias the JCIO directed him to the appeal route as the appropriate course of action and suggested he seek legal advice.

Finally, in reference to Mr Yyyyyy's suggestion that DJ Curtis had perverted the course of justice it noted that it could not consider criminal allegations unless a judicial office holder had been found guilty of such an offence and been referred to it for further consideration.

My findings

I have considered the points Mr Yyyyyy raised in order to determine whether his complaint falls within my remit to investigate and my view is that the JCIO handled Mr Yyyyyy's complaint properly and correctly and the decision was consistent with the legislation and guidance as set in the Rules:
  • • the JCIO's view that the issues raised by Mr Yyyyyy related to DJ Curtis' judicial decision-making and case management and not his personal conduct was consistent with its guidance. According to Rule 8 a letter can be only be considered a complaint by the JCIO if it "contains an allegation of misconduct on the part of a named or identifiable person holding office". It must otherwise be dismissed. Leaflet JCI01 on the JCIO website states that:
    • "A Judge's role in court is to make independent decisions about cases and their management. These are often tough decisions, and Judges have to be firm and direct in the management of their cases.
      Examples of Judges' decisions include the length or type of sentence, whether a claim can proceed to trial, whether or not a claimant succeeds in their claim, what costs should be awarded and what evidence should be heard."

      “This sort of decision cannot form the subject of a complaint. If you are unhappy with such a decision you are advised to seek legal advice from a solicitor, local law centre, Citizens Advice Bureau or the Community Legal Service to discuss whether you have a right of appeal."

      "If your complaint is not about a Judge's decision but about the Judge's personal conduct you have the right to complain to the JCIO. Examples of potential personal misconduct would be the use of insulting, racist or sexist language".
    • the JCIO clearly explained why DJ Curtis' actions and decisions did not relate to his judicial conduct and appropriately advised Mr Yyyyy that his concerns could only be addressed via the appeal process;

    • it is not within my remit to consider the decision made by the JCIO to dismiss Mr Yyyyyy's complaint or the concerns he has raised about DJ Curtis. I can only consider the process followed in their investigation of the complaint, and it is my view that they followed the correct and proper procedures to determine the validity of the complaint;

    • I note that Mr Yyyyyy claimed that DJ Curtis' manner had been antagonistic and belittling and particularised this in reference to the judge's response to his oral evidence and his handling of issues surrounding the payment of Mr Yyyyyy's council tax. I asked the JCIO to comment on whether it considered asking for further information about this allegation and it said:
    • “The accusation that DJ Curtis was antagonistic and belittling comes at the opening of a discreet section within the complaint entitled "Inappropriate Comments/Discrimination". In this section he goes on to give examples of what DJ Curtis said, including his concluding comments and the questions he asked in relation to whether the complainant had a bank account why the council tax payments were not made by direct debit.

      The caseworker has concluded, and I agree with his assessment, that the comments cited in this section of the complaint relate to the opening allegation that DJ Curtis was antagonistic and belittling. There would have been no need to ask for further particularisation of those points as, read in the context of that whole section, Mr Yyyyyy has given examples to illustrate the allegations he was making. The examples given all relate to how DJ Curtis has dealt with the proceedings before him, questions he has asked in relation to the evidence or an expression of his opinion on the evidence that has been presented. None of these things relate to personal conduct on the part of DJ Curtis and were therefore correctly rejected under rule 8.

      The caseworker makes specific reference to the allegation of antagonistic and belittling behaviour in his rejection letter. He quotes an example that has been given to support the allegation and explains why those actions do not constitute misconduct. I am therefore also satisfied that Mr Yyyyyy has received accurate and detailed reasons as to why the complaint has been rejected."
    I feel that the JCIO handled these complaints in the appropriate manner as the allegations related to DJ Curtis' judicial decision-making and case management, rather than judicial misconduct, and could only be considered via the appeal process;

    • although the JCIO appear to have believed that the appeal to the High Court referenced by Mr Yyyyyy was an appeal of DJ Curtis' decision, as opposed to a related matter, cited for reference purposes only, this interpretation was not unreasonable and did not render its investigation unsound. Indeed, it would not have impacted its assessment of the complaint as being outside of its remit to consider; and

    • it would also not have affected its advice to Mr Yyyyy that, as such, it was unable to "review a judicial decision to be able to ascertain whether it was correct in law or made as a result of bias". It correctly advised Mr Yyyyyy that these were matters for an appeal and that only if, on appeal, a judge was criticised for their decision because of bias, would this then be open to consideration by the JCIO.
I do not believe that Mr Yyyyyy has provided me with any examples of maladministration in respect of how the JCIO addressed his complaint and, in accordance with Section 110(3) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, I do not consider that a review is necessary.


Mr Paul Kernaghan
29 March 2016

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#163 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 31 Mar 2016 19:14

Something occurred to me today which is I haven't received a Council Tax demand notice for 2016/17.

I checked the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 and it specifies the following under Regulation 19 (Service of demand notices):
  • Service of demand notices

    19.—(1) The demand notice is to be served—
    • (a) on or as soon as practicable after the day the billing authority first sets an amount of council tax for the relevant year for the category of dwellings within which the chargeable dwelling to which the notice relates falls; and

      (b) where it requires the payment of instalments, at least 14 days before the day on which the first instalment is due under it.
    (2) In this regulation, “category”, in relation to a dwelling, shall be construed in accordance with section 30(4) of the Act.
I pay by instalments and on the first of the month commencing 1 April.

Of course, I'm not pointing my finger at the council for attempting to engineer another default situation but it seems a massive coincidence that I've been left in the dark regarding what my exact instalment amount is (due tomorrow) when there are some council officers who would probably like to use there position for their own perverse gratification.

If something is fishy going on I have made inquiries and found the instalment amount and paid it so they have no justification for allocating it to the fraudulent arrears.

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#164 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 11 Apr 2016 11:52

Local Government Ombudsman's letter in response to Complaint submitted 21 March 2016


Local Govermnent
OMBUDSMAN

11 April 2016

Mr outlawipcc
Grimsby
North East Lincolnshire


Our ref: 15 020 295
(Please quote our reference when contacting us and, if using email, put the number in the email subject line)

Contact Chris Upjohn on 0330 403 4676 or by email to c.upjohn@coinweb.lgo.org.uk

Dear Mr outlawipcc

Complaint against North East Lincolnshire Council

The Ombudsman has asked me to assess your complaint to see if it is about a matter we can or
should investigate. Based on the information I have, my current view is that we should not
investigate your complaint. The enclosed draft decision explains how and why I have reached this
view.

Before I make a final decision, I should welcome your comments on what I say in the draft
decision. If you do wish to comment, please ensure that I receive your response by 20 April 2016.
If I have heard nothing by then, I will likely make a formal decision not to investigate your complaint
for the reasons explained in the draft decision. If you need more time to comment, please explain
why this is and I will consider your request.

You will see that I have referred to you as ‘Mr B’ in the statement. This is because we have a
commitment to publish all of our decisions on our website if possible. If you consider that
publication of the decision will identify you, please explain why this is and we will consider whether
to make an exception to our normal policy.

Yours sincerely

Chris Upjohn
Investigator, Assessment Team

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#165 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 11 Apr 2016 12:20

Draft Decision


Local Govermnent
OMBUDSMAN


11 April 2016

Complaint reference:
15 020 295

Complaint against:
North East Lincolnshire Council

The Ombudsman’s draft decision

Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint that the Council allocated council tax payments to the wrong account. The courts are better placed to deal with this matter.

______________________________________________________________

The complaint

1. The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr B, has complained the Council has allocated council tax payments to the wrong account.

The Ombudsman’s role and powers

2. The Ombudsman provides a free service, but must use public money carefully. She may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if, for example, she believes another body is better placed to deal with the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

How I considered this complaint

3. I have considered what Mr B said in his complaint.

What I found

4. Mr B says he made payments to his council tax account for 2015/16 but the Council allocated these to the account for an earlier year. He says the Council did not follow the law when doing this.

5. Because the Council believed Mr B had not made the required payments for 2015/16, it applied to the magistrates’ court for a liability order.

Draft decision

6. Mr B believes the Council’s actions are wrong in law. The Ombudsman cannot decide the law, only the courts can do that. My current view is that Mr B could have put any arguments about the Council’s actions to the magistrates’ court which was better placed to deal with this matter. For this reason, the Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint.

Investigator’s draft decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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#166 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by Pote Snitkin » 11 Apr 2016 12:54

Did you expect anything less?
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. - Benjamin Franklin

On 22/2/17, Peterbard said "taking control of goods and selling them does not actually mean taking control of goods and selling them." Discuss.

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#167 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 11 Apr 2016 12:56

outlawipcc wrote:Chris Upjohn
Investigator, Assessment Team
Written Evidence to Communities and Local Government Select Committee.....

I enclose a copy of a letter I have received from a Mr Chris Upjohn. In the second paragraph he states they are not investigating my complaint further which would suggest they have carried out some investigation. When, in a telephone conversation with Mr Upjohn this morning, I pointed out no investigation whatsoever had been carried out he became quite rude and told me Ms Seex would not investigate the complaint in any circumstances as, 'the time limit had now expired'!

.........

Perhaps I should add one final comment Mr Betts. In a telephone conversation with one of the investigators last year I was told, 'We are not answerable to anyone - we were set up to be at arm's length from Parliament!' Such arrogance I find wholly unacceptable.

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#168 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 11 Apr 2016 20:27

Pote Snitkin wrote:Did you expect anything less?
Shouldn't have bothered. The probability of having the LGO investigate a complaint is on a par with winning the lottery, and I don't buy lottery tickets because the odds of winning the lottery are about the same as having the LGO investigate a complaint.

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#169 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Apr 2016 20:46

I agree. I stopped using the ombudsman, unless the client expressly wishes it.

I now use solicitors because they act as a filter to determine whether a claim has grounds based on regulations and evidence available.

If it has merit, it goes legal.

Since the 2014 ban on commissions, (thanks to personal injury companies) I'm not bothered which solicitor it goes to, but a reciprocating one will always get the cushy clients. The HCEO ones always command the biggest fee earners. Low value are dumped in the small claims track.

The LGO is an enormous amount of correspondence work, before and during the complaints procedure. Its way too convoluted to commit manpower to navigate the complaints procedure to the LGO.
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#170 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 19 Apr 2016 21:40

Representations on the Local Govermnent Ombudsman's 11 April 2016 draft decision. Complaint reference: 15 020 295 against North East Lincolnshire Council

The Ombudsman’s draft decision

Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint that the Council allocated council tax payments to the wrong account. The courts are better placed to deal with this matter.
  • Simply stating that ‘the courts are better placed to deal with this’ indicates that insufficient consideration has been given to the matter. The statement is unhelpful as no available court process has been conveyed to advise of the remedy, nor is any explanation offered for why the courts are better placed to deal with it.

    The available court process in all probability has not been considered because if it had, the likely conclusion would be that the only remedy would be via the High Court either by a claim for judicial review or an appeal by way of a case stated. Clearly with all that that entails it would not be reasonable to expect that such litigation was resorted to.

    In that regard, the Ombudsman has discretion as a number of reports acknowledge; for example, paragraph 4 of LGO ref: 14 009 989:

    • “The law says the Ombudsman cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, she may decide to investigate if she considers it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c).”

    The concluding sentence of sub-section 6 of section 26 of the Local Government Act 1974 states as follows:

    • “Provided that a Local Commissioner may conduct an investigation notwithstanding the existence of such a right or remedy if satisfied that in the particular circumstances it is not reasonable to expect the person aggrieved to resort or have resorted to it.”

    Additionally, LGO Guidance on jurisdiction (commencement of proceedings) introduces the idea that court proceedings may be the injustice as opposed to the fault, particularly concerning cases where, had no fault occurred, court proceedings could have been avoided. The relevant paragraph is as follows:

    • “The exclusion of court proceedings from the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction was intended to prevent us considering those matters decided by the courts using different evidential standards, and applying the more restrictive test of legality as opposed to maladministration. But there is no prohibition of an investigation about whether, had fault not occurred, court proceedings could have been avoided. This is because, in such cases the court proceedings are the injustice as opposed to the fault. We have in the past criticised councils for taking bankruptcy proceedings where – even though the application was successful – we did not feel it was a proportionate response to enforcement of a debt, given the prohibitive nature of the costs involved for the person being made bankrupt. We have also found fault with councils obtaining Liability Orders from the courts for unpaid Council Tax where they should not have done so.”

    The relevant fact sheet (Council Tax) on the LGO website under heading ‘...what will the Ombudsman look for?’, mainly covers aspects pertinent to this complaint. Those under that heading which are relevant, are quoted as follows:

    • “We consider whether the council has done something wrong in the way it went about dealing with your council tax account which has caused you problems. Some issues we can look at are if the council:
      • .........

        • failed to act on information you provided (especially where this affects your liability for council tax or your entitlement to discounts or exemptions)

        • delayed in dealing with disputes

        • made mistakes in dealing with your payments (such as failing to credit them to your account, allocating them to the wrong account, or failing to pay in council tax support you have been awarded)

        • continued to take recovery action against you when it shouldn’t (such as when you have already paid off the debt, or you are keeping to an agreed arrangement to pay the debt)

        .........”
The complaint

1. The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr B, has complained the Council has allocated council tax payments to the wrong account.

The Ombudsman’s role and powers

2. The Ombudsman provides a free service, but must use public money carefully. She may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if, for example, she believes another body is better placed to deal with the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

  • As almost all council decisions can be challenged in the courts, this reasoning could be viewed as an abuse of the Ombudsman’s discretionary powers given that it may be applied in almost every case where, for example, the investigator is under pressure to filter out complaints. With regards the use of public money, the fact that as a taxpayer I have contributed to funding the service makes a greater argument that the injustice I have been caused is investigated and should not have to resort to alternative costly remedies. LGO Guidance on Jurisdiction states with relevance to this point as follows:

    • “Almost any decision by a public body is actionable in the courts. As we are publicly funded to decide complaints of maladministration causing injustice, we should not be unduly prescriptive in relying on the availability of alternative remedies. Unlike many alternative remedies, the LGO is free to use, does not normally require expert representation, and we do not impose costs on those whose cases we do not uphold.”

    Having been alerted to council officers who are using their public office as a means to carry out personal vendettas, if the organisation were in these circumstances to exercise discretion not to investigate there must be factored into that decision what risk it would pose as to the organisation’s reputation.

How I considered this complaint

3. I have considered what Mr B said in his complaint.

  • One important aspect of the complaint apparently overlooked is the Council flatly refusing to address the grievance (except the delay) with the justification being that it raised matters about a Liability Order and so was outside the scope of the complaints process. This is wholly inexcusable because regardless of the court’s decision, the council is entitled to apply to the same court which granted the order to have it quashed if it came to light afterwards that the application should not have been made. The Council is exploiting the court granting the order to circumvent scrutiny, when fully aware that it was seriously at fault in its actions.

What I found

4. Mr B says he made payments to his council tax account for 2015/16 but the Council allocated these to the account for an earlier year. He says the Council did not follow the law when doing this.

  • This over simplifies as well as misrepresents the complaint and is what I had predicted the Council would rely on to get away with being exposed for what is essentially gross error. Presumably the “Effective Complaint Handling” courses offered at a fee by the LGO to local authorities include content informing them how best to produce their responses so on being considered, the Ombudsman will have material to which may be referred in order to reject the complaint based upon it being outside her jurisdiction.

    LGO Guidance suggests that an investigator with delegated authority to make decisions would be required to identify “aspects of complaint which are separable” from points on law, and those that can, be will be within jurisdiction. So, to give just two examples where the matters can be positively separated from questions of law are:-

    • i) The balance to which monies were misallocated by the council was suspended from enforcement, therefore it was maladministration that has caused the injustice

      ii) Council’s 6 week delay in responding to correspondence was to my detriment, as this enabled the council to misallocate further monies during that period, and even though admitting its error, has refused to allocate it to the account I requested.

    Moreover, it is evident from a report on an investigation into Newham BC (ref 08 019 113) that the ombudsman retains ‘jurisdiction to investigate administrative actions prior to the issue of court proceedings’. This ties in with the Guidance where it deals with the aforementioned ‘commencement of proceedings’ and the claim made that the LGO has ‘found fault with councils obtaining Liability Orders from the courts for unpaid Council Tax where they should not have done’. Furthermore, listed among the matters that are IN jurisdiction under the same heading is ‘the process leading up to the council’s decision to commence proceedings.

5. Because the Council believed Mr B had not made the required payments for 2015/16, it applied to the magistrates’ court for a liability order.

  • The Council was fully aware that the balance to which monies were misallocated was suspended from enforcement by the simple fact that the appeal to which the sum related had not been determined. The council had written in this matter to the effect that until there was an outcome to the proceedings the sum was suspended.

Draft decision

6. Mr B believes the Council’s actions are wrong in law. The Ombudsman cannot decide the law, only the courts can do that. My current view is that Mr B could have put any arguments about the Council’s actions to the magistrates’ court which was better placed to deal with this matter. For this reason, the Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint.

  • The complaint partly surrounded the Council’s unlawful actions and evidence of that was supported in my representations. However, what matters as far as the Ombudsman is concerned is the part of the complaint that is attributable to maladministration which even considered alone effectively accounts for the entire injustice. An investigation into the Council’s unlawful actions would clearly be beneficial, but one into the maladministration in its own right would be capable of providing the remedy sought. To reiterate an earlier point, matters can be positively separated from questions of law, which is endorsed in R v Local Commissioner etc [2000] EWCA) Civ 54 where at paragraph 47 of that judgment it states, so far as is relevant, the following:

    • “The Commissioner's power is to investigate and report on maladministration; not to determine whether conduct has been unlawful. So there is no reason why, when exercising the power to investigate and report, (which has been conferred on him by the 1974 Act) he should, necessarily, be constrained by the legal principles which would be applicable if he were carrying out the different task (for which he has no mandate) of determining whether conduct has been unlawful.”

    The fact sheet referred to earlier but under heading ‘what happens if the Ombudsman finds that the council was at fault?’, could in almost every sense be applicable to this complaint:

    • “We cannot decide whether you are liable to pay council tax or whether you are entitled to exemptions or discounts. But, if we find that something has gone wrong in the way the council dealt with your council tax account we can ask it to:

      • • take action to put the matter right, such as correcting mistakes on council tax records and issuing the right bills and demands

        • ensure that payments you have made or council tax support awards are properly paid into your account

        • deal with your correspondence or appeal

        • withdraw a summons or bailiffs and waive costs where appropriate, or

        • pay compensation. Whether we ask for compensation and the amount we recommend will depend on how you have been affected by what has gone wrong. For example if you have received any unnecessary summonses, liability orders or bailiffs visits because of the council’s errors.

      Where we find fault with the council’s procedures we will often recommend that the council makes changes so the same problem does not occur again in the future.

      Examples of some complaints we have considered

      • Ms Y set up a standing order to pay her council tax. There was no council tax reference number on the standing order form so the council did not allocate her payments to her account. The council knew about the mistake, and Ms Y provided proof of payment several times. However, it took the council six years to resolve the problem. Meantime the council continued to take legal action against her for money she did not owe. The Ombudsman asked the council to pay Ms Y £1,800 for the many summonses, liability orders and bailiffs' letters she had received and for her efforts in pursuing her complaint over a long period. The council also agreed to make changes to its process for dealing with missing payments”
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Investigator’s draft decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

outlawipcc
Posts: 329
Joined: 06 Apr 2013 17:31

#171 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 20 Apr 2016 14:31

Local Govermnent
OMBUDSMAN

20 April 2016

Complaint reference:
15 020 295

Complaint against:
North East Lincolnshire Council

The Ombudsman’s final decision
Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint that the Council allocated council tax payments to the wrong account. The courts are better placed to deal with this matter.
______________________________________________________________

The complaint
1. The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr B, has complained the Council has allocated council tax payments to the wrong account.

The Ombudsman’s role and powers
2. The Ombudsman provides a free service, but must use public money carefully. She may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if, for example, she believes another body is better placed to deal with the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

How I considered this complaint
3. I have considered what Mr B said in his complaint. Mr B also commented on a draft before I made this decision.

What I found
4. Mr B says he made payments to his council tax account for 2015/16 but the Council allocated these to the account for an earlier year. He says the Council did not follow the law when doing this.

5. Because the Council believed Mr B had not made the required payments for 2015/16, it applied to the magistrates’ court for a liability order.

Draft decision
6. Mr B believes the Council’s actions are wrong in law. The Ombudsman cannot decide the law, only the courts can do that. Mr B could have put any arguments about the Council’s actions to the magistrates’ court which was better placed to deal with this matter. For this reason, the Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint.

Investigator’s draft decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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jasonDWB
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#172 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 20 Apr 2016 19:32

OK. Follow their advice and file an N244 at the issuing magistrates court and see what happens.

Be clear to say what the council did wrong and say what you want the council to do to put it right.

Include the ombudsman's advisory saying the magistrates court is better placed to deal with this matter.
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outlawipcc
Posts: 329
Joined: 06 Apr 2013 17:31

#173 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 21 Apr 2016 09:55

jasonDWB wrote:OK. Follow their advice and file an N244 at the issuing magistrates court and see what happens.

Be clear to say what the council did wrong and say what you want the council to do to put it right.

Include the ombudsman's advisory saying the magistrates court is better placed to deal with this matter.
Thanks for that. Will look into filing an N244, but for the moment I'm considering how I'm going to avoid being fleeced again by the justice system. There is the matter of the application pursuant to s.1 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 to deal with.

outlawipcc
Posts: 329
Joined: 06 Apr 2013 17:31

#174 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by outlawipcc » 27 Apr 2016 10:09

jasonDWB wrote:You need to ask (or do an FOI) to obtain a copy of the Home Office rules governing how police record crime:
reviewed in accordance with Home Office rules governing how police record all crime.
Once you have the answer, can you post it here?

I may have to ask for Parliament to suggest a review of those rules - whatever those rules may be.

I then need to see whether those rules contradict Parliament's intention when it legislated its definition of fraud.
The answere to '''this''' is '''here'''. Hope it's useful, but to me it seems like a polite way for the Home Office to tell the public to go away.

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jasonDWB
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#175 Re: Summonsed for Council Tax account being in credit

Post by jasonDWB » 27 Apr 2016 11:15

You can present the evidence of the perjure by giving the perjurious statement or comment and have them explain why it's a civil matter when under their own criteria, it is an offence.
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