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Council tax – committal

For cases where none of the options to recover the money are successful or practical, we will have no choice but to ask the Court to issue a warrant with bail for you to attend a committal hearing.

This means that the Council will be asking the Court to send you to prison for not paying the Council Tax.

At the hearing, the magistrates have to decide whether you have deliberately refused to pay or have always overlooked paying. Their final decision is based on this.

You may be asked questions by the magistrates directly and by our representative. You will also have the chance to ask questions.

The magistrates then make their decision. There are several decisions they can make:

Court order with suspended sentence

You will be ordered to pay a set amount, for example £30 a month, and told that if you do not keep up the payments you will go to prison for a set amount of time for a period of up to 3 months.

Court order without a suspended sentence

You will be ordered to pay a set amount. If you do not keep up the payments, you will be ordered to come to court again to explain why you have not paid. The magistrates will then decide what to do next.

Write off all or some of the debt

The magistrates can write off all or some of the Council tax you owe, if they feel your situation deserves this. If only some of the debt is written off, the magistrates may make a court order for the remainder of the debt.

Take no action

The magistrates may decide that no further action is appropriate. Cases are sometimes dismissed for an attachment of earnings or benefit to be set up.


If more information or evidence is needed before a decision can be made, a case can be postponed until a later date.

Committal to prison

The magistrates can decide to send you to prison immediately for up to 3 months.

If you do not appear in court, we will ask the magistrates to issue a warrant for your arrest, without bail. This means that a bailiff will come and arrest you and take you straight to the court to appear in front of the magistrates.

We only start committal action to collect Council Tax when we have to. If you are having difficulty paying, please contact us immediately. We can discuss your situation, and try to stop any more action being taken against you.