Understanding your Council Tax court summons

If you fail to pay your Council Tax after a reminder notice or do not get in touch to agree a payment plan, you will receive a court summons. Here, we explain how the summons letter is broken down and what it means.

Here is an example summons letter using sample data. We explain each numbered section in detail after the image.

What your court summons letter means

1. Name and address

The name and address of the person(s) registered/responsible for paying the Council Tax and summons costs. The address shown here may be different to the property address. For example, if the property is unoccupied and the bill or summons is issued to the person registered for Council Tax instead of the property address.

2. Telephone number/Automated payment line

This number is free to call from landlines and mobiles. You can also pay your bill over the phone - you will need your Council Tax reference number which is printed on the summons letter (5) and your payment card details.

3. Summons number

This is your court summons reference number. You will need this number when you attend court.

4. Date of issue

This is the date your court summons notice was produced.

5. Payment reference number

This is your Council Tax account reference number. You need this if you want to speak to us about your summons, make a payment or set up/access your Council Tax account online.

6. Online key

You will need the online key if you want to set up or access your Council Tax account online. You will need to type it exactly as it appears on your bill. For example, a capital letter must be entered as a capital letter. This key will change each time we issue a new bill so always view your latest bill for your online key.

7. Address of property

This is the address of the property that the Council Tax summons is for. It may be different to the name and address shown at the top of the summons letter (1).

8. Council Tax outstanding

This is the amount of Council Tax that you owe for this summons. 

9. Cost of summons

This is the amount you have been charged because you have been issued with a court summons for non-payment of Council Tax.

10. Total due

This is the total amount you need to pay, including the outstanding Council Tax and the summons charge. You can pay online or via the automated payment line (2). You can also set up a direct debit online to avoid missing future payments. See 'how to pay' for details of all payment options.

11. Liability Order

If you do not pay the total due in full before the court hearing, a Liability Order will be issued. A Liability Order gives the council further powers of enforcement action to recover Council Tax. This includes attachment of earnings, deductions from benefit or referral to an enforcement agent if you fail to maintain an agreed arrangement. See 'how we recover Council Tax debt' for more information.

12. Liability costs

When a Liability Order is issued, this adds £12 to the total balance you owe us. If you dispute the Liability Order you can attend court to explain the reasons why you disagree. We can then consider making a payment arrangement with you based on your circumstances at that time. You must complete a financial statement and we can assist if you are appealing against the Liability Order.

The £12 Liability Order cost will be added to your account and included in your summons payment arrangement. If your liability is amended and you are no longer liable for the period you have been summonsed for, we will cancel the costs and recovery notices and you would only pay the Council Tax owed.

13. Notes overleaf

On the back of this summons letter you will find information which tells you not to ignore the summons with a range of options what to do next. It also explains the enforcement agent collection stages and a form which you can fill to help us work out what you can afford to pay. It also gives advice on what to do if you are struggling to pay your Council Tax.  You can also find this information here:

14. Payment instalment plan

If you cannot pay the total amount owed before the court hearing date, you can pay the amounts shown in monthly instalments. This includes the outstanding Council Tax owed, summons and liability order costs broken down into more manageable payments. If you do not stick to the instalment plan, we may take further enforcement action.