Council Tax court hearing

You have had a Summons for a 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, Second Reminder or Final Notice. If you believe you have paid the previous notice in full, contact the Council Tax team via our form and select the option ‘Reminder/final notice paid in full before summons issued’.

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 pay in full, make payment of the first instalment at the bottom of the Summons by the specified date, this will trigger the remaining instalments on your account. See our Paying your Council Tax page for ways to make payment

If you are unable to make payment in full or comply with the instalment plan on the Summons by the specified date, submit your payment proposal using the special payment arrangement request form, visit Late and non-payment of Council Tax (

You do not need to attend the Court Hearing if you acknowledge you owe the money.

If you attend at court on the date stated on the summons, you may be refused entry to the building as you won't have followed the court procedure for attending hearings as stipulated by the court itself. Refer to the notice accompanying the summons.

  • 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.
  • We will hold any further recovery action once we have obtained the Liability Order, providing you pay strictly in line with any arrangement, but you will still have to pay both the Summons and Liability Order costs.
  • To find out what happens if you do not pay or keep to an arrangement or for welfare organisations who can help if you are in financial difficulty, visit Late and non-payment of Council Tax (

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 3 points below 

 The Council must prove to the Court:

  1. There is an entry for the property in the Council Tax Banding List

    It is not a valid defence to a liability order to say you do not agree with your council tax band.

    You can appeal against your band to the Valuation Office If you are successful, you will receive a refund if you have overpaid.
  2. The Council Tax has been properly set and this has been advertised in a local newspaper (this is done at the time of the Annual Bills being issued).
  3. The Council Tax Bill and Reminders have been issued correctly  (the bill can be issued electronically, ie online via MyAccount).

    It is not a defence to say that you did not receive it.
  • You have not paid the tax, or part of it.

If you have paid the tax, 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

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 the council was right to order you to pay Council Tax on your property
  • whether you should pay the tax 
  • whether the amount claimed is wrong
  • whether you should get Council Tax Support
  • whether your Council Tax Support has been worked out correctly. 

 The Magistrates cannot address these points in a liability order hearing but you can contact the Council tax Team with details of your enquiry.

If your query is about Council Tax Support, you can visit the Council Tax Support page for further guidance.

What to do if you still want to challenge the Summons

Do not just turn up at court.

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 hearing form.

  • 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 person 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:

Authority to disclose

  • 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, on another date.

Contact Council Tax

Council Tax enquiry form

Call the Council Tax Customer Service Team on 0300 123 5013 during normal office hours, 8.30am to 5 pm Monday to Friday,excluding bank holidays. If you're unable to use our forms.


Page last reviewed: 06 December 2023