Keeping clients one-step ahead!

Posted by James Bowen on
Recently in the case of Okon v Lewisham Borough Council it was highlighted the uncertainty regarding the correct process to appeal an individual's liability for outstanding council tax and subsequent liability orders.

Okon (“O”) was appealing a bankruptcy order made against her on the grounds that the three properties that had outstanding liabilities were tenanted at the time the sums fell due. The local authority had claimed that the appellant owed unpaid council tax in respect of three properties. Liability orders were made, and the local authority petitioned for bankruptcy when the appellant failed to pay. The bankruptcy petition was adjourned. In the meantime, the appellant applied to the magistrates' court to set aside the liability orders; it was her case that the properties were tenanted so the tenants were liable for the council tax. The court referred her to R. (on the application of Brighton and Hove City Council) v Brighton and Hove Justices [2004] EWHC 1800 (Admin), [2004] R.A. 277, but failed to tell her that if she wanted to challenge the substantive merits of the orders, she had to appeal to the valuation tribunal under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 s.16.

The judge in the matter highlighted that the correct procedure for appealing a liability order should be before the Valuation Tribunal and that the magistrates should refer individuals who were litigants in person to bodies that offered free legal advice and would advise of this. The cases of Yang v Official Receiver [2013] EWHC 3577 (Ch), [2014] B.P.I.R. 826 and Wiltshire Council v Piggin [2014] EWHC 4386 (Admin), [2015] R.V.R. 45 were applied.

Blake Morgan’s Restructuring and Insolvency team are instructed to recover Council Tax and National Non-Domestic Rates by a number of local authorities nationwide. In light of this decision the Blake Morgan team have contacted our clients and made them aware of the judge’s comments in this matter to see if in their correspondence they included any mention of the correct procedure listed above. We do this to make sure that they are one step ahead and that they are at the crest of insolvency developments in the country.

This is just another example of how our team add ‘added value’ to our service, going further than just recovering sums for our clients. At Blake Morgan LLP we understand the economic pressures ‘to balance the budget’ that local authorities face, we therefore offer a funded service to clients whereby we defer our fees until the close of a matter. We are thereby able to recover our fees predominantly from the individual/company of the bankruptcy/winding up process and sharing the 'risk' with clients.

For further information regarding our services or queries regarding this case please don’t hesitate to contact Paul Caldicott on 029 2068 6181 or

About the Authors

James is a Trainee Solicitor in our Cardiff Office.

James Bowen
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029 2068 6003

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Paul is a specialist corporate restructuring and insolvency Solicitor in our Business Support & Insolvency team based in Cardiff.

Paul Caldicott
Email Paul
029 2068 6181

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