Council Tax Law E_WEXCOMS

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					                                                               COUNCIL TAX LAW
                                                               ENGLAND & WALES


                                                             Time allowed: 3 hours

                                                              Answer SIX questions
                                                        All questions carry equal marks
                                                             (Maximum marks 300)

                    Candidates should illustrate their answers with reference to appropriate case law and legislation

                    Where different arrangements exist, students may answer on the basis of Welsh legislation

                    Where questions are divided into sections, marks will be allocated equally between sections unless otherwise
                     indicated.

    1.   A customer (Mr James), has contacted the Council to complain about being liable for Council Tax, on the basis that he only rents the
         property on a short term basis. Mr James insists that the landlord should be the person liable for Council Tax at the property.

         Draft a reply specifying why Mr James is the liable person in this instance and explain why the landlord could be a liable person in
         other circumstances.

    2. A managing agent within your area has raised an objection to your requesting information to establish council tax liability, stating that
         it is a breach of data protection and refusing to comply with the request. Explain the sources (other than the liable person) from
         which information relating to liability can be obtained and the legal basis for this, including any action that can be taken by the Billing
         Authority for non compliance with a request.

    3.   The owner of a property (Mrs. Williams) has contacted you because she wishes to appeal against the banding of her property, on the
         basis that the property has been overvalued by at least one valuation band.

         Detail the restrictions that apply on alterations to valuation bands and explain the circumstances in which a proposal to alter the list
         may be made.
    4.   A caseworker for the Local Authority has contacted you about a client who is severely mentally impaired. The client lives on his own
         and the caseworker wishes to know whether any exemption for Council Tax would apply. Draft a reply to the caseworker and, in
         doing so, detail all exemptions that are awarded where properties are occupied.

    5.   Your local IRRV Association has asked you to provide training to its new members, based on the types of Council Tax appeal which
         fall within the jurisdiction of the Valuation Tribunal. Draft training notes detailing these types of appeals.

    6.   A council taxpayer in your area has complained that because they became liable for council tax in February this year, they have only
         been given one instalment to pay their council tax when the charge is to the 31st March. Draft a reply explaining the Council Tax
         statutory instalment scheme.

    7.   Your Council Tax enforcement section has recently taken on a new member of staff, who wishes to know more about some of the
         less common enforcement methods available to a Billing Authority. Draft briefing notes in respect of:

              a.      Attachment of Members’ allowances                                                    (10 marks)
              b.      Charging Orders                                                                                (20 marks)


Council Tax Law, England and Wales Technician, December 2005
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                 c.   Commitment proceedings against debtors under the age of 21yrs                         (20 marks)

  8.        A national building firm has received a number of completion notices for houses in a new development within your area. The firm is
            unhappy about the completion dates in the notices and is unsure as to the validity of the notices. Explain the law in relation to
            completion notices and the rights of appeal that exist.

       9.   In relation to Council Tax, your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau is confused over the distinction between
                  a. apprentices                                                                                                  (12 marks)
                  b. student nurses; and                                                                                (12 marks)
                  c. students.                                                                                          (26 marks)

            The case workers now wish to understand each category so they can advise their clients accordingly. Draft a reply, setting out the
            key criteria for each category of discount disregard.

10.         The Clerk to your local Magistrates Court has asked for some guidance in respect of the following case law, each of which relate to
            defences against the issue of a Liability Order for non payment of local taxes.

            Provide details and an explanation of the decision in each case:
                 a. Tower Hamlets LBC v Fallows (1989)                                                   (20 marks)
                 b. R v Bristol City Magistrates Court and Bristol City Council ex parte Willsman and Young (1991)
                                                                                    (12 marks)
                 c. R V Leicester City Justices and Leicester City Council ex parte Barrow and Barrow (1991)
                                                                                               (18 marks)




                                       Examiners Comments – December 2005 Council Tax Law paper

       1.   A simple question about Council Tax liability initiated the December 2005 paper and was, on the whole, very well answered; with the
            majority of candidates who attempted this question achieving a pass mark.

            There were, however, some disappointments from my perspective. In the first instance a number of candidates were unable to
            actually detail the hierarchy of liability correctly, some candidates were unable to detail the prescribed classes of owners’ liability
            and many candidates omitted both the theory of and caselaw related to the concept of Sole or Main residence.

            The marking scheme for this question was as follows:
            S.6 LGFA 92 (4 marks)
            S.8 LGFA 92 (4 marks)
            Ctax (Liability for Owners) Regs (2 marks)
            Hierarchy of liability (18 marks)
            Classes of owners’ liability (18 marks)


Council Tax Law, England and Wales Technician, December 2005
                                                                                                                                         Page 2 of 7
         Explanation of SorM residence (4 marks)

    2.   This question related to the local authority power to collect information regarding liability from various sources – owners,
         residents, managing agents, other public bodies and Registrar of Births and Deaths.

         This was a very popular and a very well answered question, with the vast majority of candidates who attempted this question
         receiving good passes. The main omission from candidates in this question was the detail of the appropriate legislation and the lack
         of information relating to the appeals as a result of the imposition of penalties. Otherwise answers were very good.

         The marking scheme for this question was as follows:
         Ctax (A&E) Regs 1992/613 (4 marks)
         Request in writing (4 marks)
         Reg 3 – Information from residents, owners & managing agents (8 marks)
         Reg 4 – Information from public bodies (8 marks)
         Exchange of info between public bodies (4 marks)
         Reg 5 – Information about deaths (8 marks)
         Use of information by the Billing Authority (4 marks)
         Schedule 3 – penalties for non compliance (4 marks)
         Details of penalties & appeals (6 marks)

    3.   This question related to appeals against a Valuation banding. On the whole candidates showed a reasonable understanding of this area of
         law. However, many candidates appeared confused between ‘restrictions’ on appeals and the circumstances where a proposal may be
         made. This invariably resulted in lower marks.

         Valuation is, historically, an area where candidates struggle – presumably because the majority of candidates do not deal with this subject
         area as part of their day to day roles. It is clear, however, that candidate knowledge in this topic area is improving year on year.

         The marking scheme for this topic area was as follows:
         Ctax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regs 1993/290 (3 marks)

         Restrictions - Reg 4: (4 marks each – 32 marks)
                   There has been a material increase & a relevant transaction
                   There has been a material reduction in value
                   Dwelling has become/ceased to be composite
                   Increase/reduction in composite element
                   Listing Officer is satisfied a different band should apply
                   Valuation band shown is not as determined
                   An order of the VT/High court requires a change in band
                   6 month limit

         Circumstances where a proposal may be made: (3 marks each – 15 marks)
                 List shows a dwelling that shouldn’t be shown
                 Fails to show a dwelling which should be shown
                 Dwelling is shown in wrong band
                 A non restricted change has occurred (see above)
                 A relevant decision of VT/High Court hasn’t been accounted for.


    4.   This question was a very simple (and ‘bread and butter’) question about exemptions, particularly ‘occupied’ exemptions. The question
         required the candidate to provide details of the classes of occupied exemptions (Classes M;N;O;P;S;U;V and W) accompanied with a cursory



Council Tax Law, England and Wales Technician, December 2005
                                                                                                                                   Page 3 of 7
         amount of detail in each instance. In the case of class U, more information was required as the question was based around this specific
         exemption.

         Many candidates failed to follow this simple course of action and either detailed spurious exemption classes, simply made a list of ALL
         exemption classes or provided the appropriate classes, but then failed to provide any detail, however small, in respect of them.

         The marking scheme for this question was:
         S4 LGFA 1992 (3 marks)
         Ctax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 92 (4 marks)
         Class U (detail) – (8 marks)
         Classes M, N, O, P, S, V & W (5 marks each – 35 marks)


    5.   Question 5 related to appeals that may be made to the Valuation Tribunal and was surprisingly unpopular with candidates.

         The question simply required details of the appropriate legislation and details of the different types of applicable appeal – with a
         small amount of basic detail for each.

         Those candidates who did attempt the question fared well, with the majority achieving comfortable passes.

         The marking scheme for this paper was as follows:
         Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regs 1993/290 (5 marks)
         The VCCT Regs 1989/439 (5 marks)
         S.16 LGFA 1992 (5 marks)
         Types of appeal
                           Appeals against Valuation Band (5 marks)
                           Appeals against invalid proposal (5 marks)
                           Appeals against Penalties imposed – Sched 3 (5 marks)
                           Appeals against Completion notices – Sched 4a (5 marks)
                            Appeals under S.16 (15 marks – 3 marks each)
                                     Liability of person
                                     Designation as chargeable rather than exempt dwelling
                                     Calculation of amount payable (Discounts/Disabled relief)



    6.   This question was another very straight forward, ‘bread and butter’ type question relating to the Council Tax statutory instalment
         scheme and proved very popular with candidates.

         The main candidate omissions relating to this question were the failure to provide detailed legislation (i.e. Part 1, schedule 1 SI
         1992/613) and the failure to mention all aspects of the topic area – e.g. failure to mention that there should only be a single
         instalment in each calendar month, but that instalments need not be a whole month apart.



         The marking scheme for this question was:
                     Part 1 schedule 1 SI 1992/613 (5 marks)
                     10 monthly instalments (4 marks)
                     After 1st May – number of months remaining less 1 (5 marks)
                     After 31st January – 1 instalment (4 marks)
                     Payment in consecutive months (4 marks)


Council Tax Law, England and Wales Technician, December 2005
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                      Instalments need no be on the same day in each month (4 marks)
                      Instalments caselaw (4 marks)
                      Only 1 instalment per calendar month (4 marks)
                      14 days notice of instalments (4 marks)
                      If not exact £, 1st instalment rounded up/down (4 marks)
                      If amount less than £10 – BA can request in 1 payment (4marks)


    7.   Question 7 was divided into three sections and was designed to allow candidates to illustrate their knowledge over a breadth of
         remedies within the enforcement topic area. Candidates were asked to provide answers for all three topic areas detailed.It is
         prudent to look at each section independently:

         Attachment of Members Allowances
         Many of the candidates who attempted this question provided scant answers in this section – with many not knowing the legislation
         or the level of applicable deduction (40%). The marking scheme for this question part was:
              d. Attachment of Members’ allowances (10 marks)
                            i. Reg 44 SI 1992/613
                           ii. 40% deduction
                          iii. Allowances under LGHA 1989 or LGA 1972
                          iv. Bonus marks if mention S.106 restrictions

         Charging Orders
         This was the best answered section within question 7, with the vast majority of candidates understanding the relevant Court
         jurisdiction and the minimum level applicable to make such an application (£1,000). A reasonable success rate was achieved. The
         marking scheme for this question part was:
               e. Charging Orders (20 marks)
                            i. Application to County Court
                           ii. Minimum debt £1,000 (can be more than 1 LO)
                         iii. Specify designated dwelling in order
                          iv. Land Charges Act/Land Registration Act


         Commitment proceedings against debtors under the age of 21 years
         Of the three question parts this was the area where candidates were candidates failed to provide the required information. Of the
         candidates who attempted question 7, many either totally omitted this question part in their answer or simply provided details about
         the committal process, whether relevant or not! This is a well established area in law and the marking scheme for this question part
         was as follows:
              f. Commitment proceedings against debtors under the age of 21yrs (20 marks)
                           i. S.47 & 48 LGFA 1992
                          ii. Criminal Justice Act 1982
                         iii. No other apt method of dealing
                         iv. Mould & Ashley cases



    8.   This question related to Completion Notices and was relatively popular with candidates. Once again, this is a topic area I would class
         as ‘bread and butter’ for candidates, appearing regularly in the Council Tax examination papers since 2000.

         The question itself was not particularly well answered, with many candidates failing to provide the level of detail required – and
         specifically failing to mention the relevant legislation; how such notices can be served and any appeal rights that may exist.



Council Tax Law, England and Wales Technician, December 2005
                                                                                                                                    Page 5 of 7
         The marking scheme for this question was:
         Schedule 4a LGFA 1988 (5 marks)
         S.17 LGFA 1992 (5 marks)
         Completion notice served where work is complete or can reasonably be expected to be complete within 3 months (4
         marks)
         Completion notice served on the owner (person entitled to possession) (4 marks)
         Completion notice may be withdrawn through issue of a subsequent notice (4 marks)
         Once an appeal has been lodged, a CN may only be withdrawn with written permission of the owner (4 marks)
         CN must specify building to which it relates (4 marks)
         If owner agrees CN date is completion date, that is date for Ctax purposes & CN is withdrawn (4 marks)
         Appeal to VT on grounds that is not complete or cannot reasonably by expected to be complete (within 4 weeks) (6 marks)
         Service of completion notices (4 marks)
         2 pieces of caselaw (6 marks)


    9.   Question 9 related to discounts and was another where a three part answer was required from candidates. The question itself was
         straight forward and simply require the candidate to provide the qualifying criteria for three different classes of discount disregard
         as follows:

         Students
         Most candidates were able to provide a reasonable level of detail about students, however, many provided details relating to Full
         time courses of education, while failing to mention Qualifying courses of education.

         Apprentices
         The majority of candidates answered this question part well, detailing all of the relevant criteria required.

         Student Nurses
         This is the question part where candidate invariably struggled to provide detail, with many unable to distinguish between students
         and student nurses.

         The marking scheme for this question was as follows:
         SI 1992/548 (6 marks)
         Students (24 marks)
                   Full time course of education
                   Qualifying course of education
                   Foreign language assistants
                   Qualifying criteria for each
                   Student certificates
                   Relevant educational establishment
         Apprentices (10 marks)
                   Learning a trade or vocation
                   Undertaking training – NCVQ
                   Maximum salary £160 per week
         Student Nurses (10 marks)
                   Not on full time course at college/university
                   Undertaking a course leading to registration under Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1994




Council Tax Law, England and Wales Technician, December 2005
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    10. Another three part question, this time specifically relating to enforcement caselaw. Very few candidates attempted this question
        and those who attempted the question fared badly.

         The question specifically required details in respect of the following cases:
               Tower Hamlets LBC v Fallows (1989)
               R v Bristol City Magistrates Court and Bristol City Council ex parte Willsman and Young (1991); and
               R V Leicester City Justices and Leicester City Council ex parte Barrow and Barrow (1991)

         Each of these cases is well established within Council Tax law, with each establishing precedents which local authorities now have to
         follow. The detail required for each (i.e. the marking scheme) was as follows:

              Tower Hamlets LBC v Fallows (1989) (20 marks)
                       General Rates case
                       Court of Appeal
                       Dispute over payment being made
                       Burden of proof on Council to show that payment had not been made
                       Decision based on balance of probabilities

                   R v Bristol City Magistrates Court and Bristol City Council ex parte Willsman and Young (1991) (12 marks)
                         High Court case
                         Community Charge Benefit claimed but not assessed
                         Court refused as valid defence against issue of LO

                   R V Leicester City Justices and Leicester City Council ex parte Barrow and Barrow (1991) (18 marks)
                         Right to a friend in court
                         Mckenzie v Mckenzie (1971)
                         Court of Appeal
                         Friend can only give quiet advice


         General
         All in all the candidate scripts were of a relatively high standard, which is pleasing to see as an examiner, as the aim of the whole
         exercise is to see people pass their exams and become qualified.

         The main areas of concern for me were the lack of targeted legislation is candidate answers (e.g. for question 4 a candidate might
         detail LGFA 1992 – whereas I am looking for the detail – i.e. S.4 LGFA 1992) and lack of details in candidate answers – the main areas
         of which should be apparent from the comments given against each individual question.

         In order to approach the June examination confidently, candidates should, in addition to reading these comments, refer to previous
         papers, marking schemes (where available) and previous comments since 2000. It should become clear that there is a distinct
         pattern amongst core topic areas – upon which candidates should squarely focus their attention!




Council Tax Law, England and Wales Technician, December 2005
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