Court hearing

Why you have had the Summons

A Summons Notice has been served as you have failed to make full payment of the preceding Reminder or Final Notice. If you believe you have paid the previous notice in full, contact the Business Rates team via our form and select the option Summons.

What to do now

  • Make payment of the full amount of the notice before the court hearing to avoid further action and additional costs.
  • If you are unable to make payment in full, submit your payment proposal using the special payment arrangement request form.

You do not need to attend the Court Hearing

  • We will apply for a Liability Order in your absence, together with additional costs, if the full amount, including the Summons costs is not paid by the hearing date.
  • If we have agreed an arrangement for payment we will hold any further recovery action once we have obtained the Liability Order, providing you pay strictly in line with the arrangement, but you will still have to pay both the Summons and Liability Order costs.
  • Visit the section You don’t make a payment to find out what happens if you do not pay or keep to an arrangement or for organisations who can help if you are in financial difficulty.

If you disagree with the Summons

There are normally only two reasons why a court will not issue a Liability Order.

  • You have paid the amount in full, including costs, if payment received by us on or after the date the Summons was issued or
  • We have not done what we were supposed to in the 4 points below 

 The Council must prove to the Court:

  1. There is an entry for the property in the Local Rating List

    It is not a valid defence to a liability order to say you do not agree with your Rateable Value.

    You can make an appeal to the Valuation Office against your Rateable Value at www.voa.gov.uk. If you are successful, you will receive a refund if you have overpaid.
  2. You have been deemed as the rateable occupier or the person/company entitled to occupation in respect of the hereditament in the Local Rating List for the relevant period.
  3. The Non Domestic Rate Demand and Reminders have been issued correctly  (the bill can be issued electronically, ie online via Cheshire East Account).

    It is not a defence to say that you did not receive it.
  4. You have not paid the non domestic rates, or part of it.

If you have paid the non domestic rates, but not the costs, we can still ask for a Liability Order and use it to collect the costs.

If the magistrates decide that it is likely that these things are true, they must make a liability order. 

Additional recognised defences to a Liability Order are:

  • More than 6 years have passed since the balance became due
  • Bankruptcy proceedings have commenced
  • You have made payment in full (including costs)

If the magistrates decide you do not have a valid defence, they must make a liability order. They cannot take into account why you have not paid or any personal or financial circumstances.  

Things which are not defences to a Liability Order

Magistrates cannot consider

  • whether you can afford to pay the non domestic rates 
  • whether the Rateable Value is incorrect

The Magistrates cannot address these points in a Liability Order hearing but you can contact the Business Rates Team with details of your enquiry.

What to do if you still want to challenge the Summons

  • Any dispute you have about the validity of the Summons should be raised directly with us in the first instance by filling in our Court Summons form. Ideally please contact us as soon as possible after you receive the summons and preferably at least 2 weeks before the hearing.
  • We will only normally deal with the liable party named on the Summons but if someone else is helping you with this you can give us permission to talk to them by signing and returning our authority to disclose form (PDF, 151KB).
Challenge your Court Summons
  • We will aim to contact you within 5 working days to discuss the issue. You must provide a telephone contact number and email address to allow this.
  • If you then, still wish to challenge the application for a liability order, we will contact the court to arrange for your case to be heard in person, remotely.

Changes to attending court – Covid-19

Do not just turn up at court. There will be no provision to enter the court building to see a council representative or a magistrate on the hearing date.

  • Due to the current situation in respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, face to face hearings of liability order applications in Cheshire Magistrates’ Courts are suspended. 
  • Instead, the court is holding remote or telephone hearings for non domestic rate applications to observe social distancing to protect court staff, the judiciary and those who would normally attend court.

Page last reviewed: 01 November 2021