What happens if you don't pay

Each year we send you a bill which tells you how much you have to pay and the date your payment is due. In most cases, your business rates are payable in monthly installments on the 1st of each month.

Payment difficulties

If you get into payment difficulties and you can't afford to pay your installments, contact us immediately to see if we can help you. We don't promise to be able to help everyone but the sooner you contact us, the better our chances of being able to help.

Reminder notices 

If you don't pay each month on the due date (1st of each month), we will send you a reminder notice.

You must pay the full amount shown on your reminder notice within 7 days from the date on the notice. 

We are only required to send you one reminder notice, so if you pay late on a further occasion, no further notice will be issued and you will be served with a court summons. To avoid a summons, please ensure that you pay your business rates on or before the date it is due.

Court summons 

If you do not pay the full amount on the reminder notice or pay any further instalment later than the due date, a magistrates court summons will be issued for non-payment of business rates. The summons will be served with an explanatory leaflet, which provides information on defences to the issuing of a court liability order.

The following are not defences against the issue of the order:

  • you cannot afford to pay your business rates
  • you have applied for relief or an exemption are waiting to hear from the Council
  • you have an outstanding appeal concerning the rateable value of your premises

The explanatory leaflet also provides details of when you can visit recovery staff to try to resolve any queries you may have prior to the court hearing. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity if you have any query with your business rates.  

When the summons has been issued, we will apply to the court for a liability order for the full amount of business rates including the costs associated with serving the summons.

Unless the amount is paid in full before the hearing additional costs will be added for the court hearing. To save you any additional costs, you should pay the full amount shown on your summons before the court hearing.

If you are not able to pay the full amount before the hearing, you should contact us to discuss if a repayment arrangement can be considered. Please note: the option to pay by instalments has already been lost and will not be reinstated at this stage. You may, however, avoid the need to attend the court hearing.

Liability order 

If have not paid in full before the hearing or agreed repayment with us, we will apply to the court for a liability order. This gives us the power to implement a number of different actions and recovery remedies including:

  • apply for your bankruptcy if you have personal liability (such as a sole trader) for the business rates
  • apply for your company to be wound up if your business operates as a company  
  • instruct enforcement agents to remove goods and sell them to pay your business rates
  • if you have personal liability, apply for you to be put in prison for non-payment 

Enforcement agents  

If we have a liability order and no arrangement has been agreed to repay the debt, the order will normally be passed to the Council's certificated enforcement agents who will visit you to enforce payment of the debt.

The enforcement agents will be instructed to remove any goods that you own and sell them at auction. If the liability order is passed to the enforcement agents for enforcement, you will incur additional costs, which are considerable for businesses. Should enforcement reach this stage, the Council will not intervene in any action taken by the enforcement agents to enforce payment unless the circumstances are exceptional.

Committal to prison 

Should the bailiff be unsuccessful in enforcing the debt and receiving payment in full (including any costs), the liability order will be returned to the Council for further enforcement action.

At this stage, should any part of the debt remain unpaid, the Council may apply to the court for your committal to prison if you are personally liable for the debt. The sentence for non-payment can be up to 90 days.

In the case of limited companies, applying for committal to prison is not an option. The Council will, however, instigate proceedings in the courts for a winding up order and make an application for the costs associated with this action.

Page updated: 20/03/2017 10:51:44