A owned two properties, one of which had been divided into two
separately rateable properties for council tax purposes. R
presented a bankruptcy petition against A based on a purported debt
of Ł14,097.59 owed by A in respect of unpaid council tax for
which it had obtained liability orders from the Magistrates
At the initial hearing the petition was adjourned to enable A to
apply to the Magistrates Court to set aside the liability orders.
It was not pointed out to A that given the application was to
challenge the merits of the liability orders the correct procedure
was to make an application to the Valuations Tribunal.
The bankruptcy order was made at the adjourned hearing at which
A was not present. At a further hearing, A's representative
requested that the bankruptcy order be set aside and mentioned
A's intention to appeal to the Valuations Tribunal. The judge
held that there was no arguable basis on which to oppose the
bankruptcy order. A sought leave to appeal.
The appeal was allowed. The judge at first instance had, in
error, focused on A's application to the magistrates court to
set aside rather than on whether A's appeal to the Valuation
Tribunal was bona fide. The judge stipulated that on the
understanding that (1) the appeal to the Valuations Tribunal was
made expeditiously, together with any application to the Valuation
Agency in relation to the divided property's registration as a
rateable property; and (2) A would not, without the prior written
consent of the court, sell or dispose of any interest in any of the
properties, he would order that the bankruptcy order be set aside
and leave to appeal granted.
The Judge remarked that this case highlighted the level of
uncertainty in respect of how the courts should deal with
enforcement of domestic council tax liability orders in the context
of the availability of the remedy by way of appeal to the Valuation
Witnesses can, in various circumstances, be subpoenaed by the Courts of overseas jurisdictions to attend to give evidence by way of depositions within that jurisdiction. So why not take that one step further and ask a foreign court to subpoena the witness to give evidence by live satellite video link to a Court in London? This would be the next best thing to having the witness present in Court. Indeed, the Commercial Court is increasingly amenable to evidence being given in this way (albeit on a
Gratuitous alienation is one of the most familiar parts of our law and yet relatively rarely seems to come to court. That may be because the law is so well understood that there is little left to debate...
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