Business rates - late or non-payments

If you don’t pay your business rates

The instalments that are due and payable are itemised on the latest non-domestic rates bill issued to you.

If you do not make payment of your Council Tax as shown on the bill, you will be issued the following:

Reminder notice

Legislation stipulates that a reminder may be issued anytime after the due date of an instalment where the amount stated has not been paid. Generally we will allow in the region of 14 days grace time for instalments due on the first of the month before issuing a reminder notice.

If the amount stated on the reminder is paid in full then the original instalment plan specified on the latest Council Tax bill will resume. If the full amount is not paid within seven days, then legislation allows for a summons to be issued. We however will not issue a summons following a reminder. Instead, a final notice will be issued to allow a further opportunity for payment to be made without the costs associated with a summons being incurred.

Second reminder

If you have previously received a reminder then brought your account up-to-date, but fail to pay a subsequent instalments in full, a second reminder will be issued.

If the amount stated on the second reminder is paid in full then the original instalment plan specified on the latest Council Tax bill will resume. If the full amount is not paid within seven days a final notice will be issued. Where a second reminder has been issued and the amount stated is paid that prevents a final notice being produced, should the instalment plan be defaulted on at any further point in the financial year no further reminder notices can be sent and a final notice will be issued.

Final notice

A final notice is issued where:

  • The amount stated on a reminder notice has not been paid in full at the time the final notice has been produced, or;
  • Two reminders have previously been issued within the financial year and the account has fallen into arrears on a third occasion.

When a final notice is issued the right to pay by instalments is lost and the full amount of tax for the year becomes due. If the full amount is not paid within seven days then a summons will be issued. We will on occasion use discretion should payment of an amount that brings the account up-to-date in line with the original instalment plan be paid within seven days. Should this discretion be exercised, then it will only be on the first occasion that a final notice is issued.


If the amount of business rates due on the final notice remains unpaid then we will make a complaint to the Magistrates Court and a summons will be issued. Costs for issue of the summons amounting to £75.00 will be incurred.

The summons notice will specify the date the council will make an application for a liability order from the Magistrates Court. Currently, due to Covid-19 all court hearings are being conducted remotely via audio connection. Full details of how the hearing is conducted can be found in the accompanying notes with the summons notice.

At this stage a ratepayer can make a repayment arrangement with the us. Arrangements at this stage will be inclusive of court costs. If you have received a summons and wish to submit a repayment proposal please e-mail or telephone 01723 232378.

Liability order

A Liability order is obtained in the Magistrates Court and follows the issue of a summons. When a liability order is obtained, further costs of £55.00 are incurred. Where the full balance of the summons (including the £75.00 costs associated with issue of the summons) is paid before the liability order hearing date, then no further action will be taken and no additional costs incurred.

At the hearing, an authorised representative of Scarborough Borough Council will make an application for liability orders. For the court to grant a liability order in our favour, they must be satisfied that:

  • The hereditament the application relates to appears on the local non-domestic valuation list
  • That the secretary of state has set the non-domestic rating poundage
  • A bill and at least one reminder and a summons have been posted to your last known address
  • You have not paid the tax as per the bill, or part of it

If the Magistrates decide that it is likely that the above is true, they must grant a liability order. The Magistrates cannot take into consideration the following:

  • Whether you agree the tax should be paid
  • Your ability to pay
  • If you disagree with the amount

The Magistrates however will class the following as a valid defence:

  • Where we have not supplied evidence that proves the points above
  • Where the amount has been paid in full including costs
  • Where we are holding you liable for payment incorrectly

If you have commenced with payment of an agreed arrangement at the point the liability order is obtained then no further action will be taken.

Actions after a liability order has been obtained

If you do not maintain an agreed proposal or pay in full, the liability order gives Scarborough Borough Council the power to commence with enforcement action to recover the debt. Actions that can be taken include:

Enforcement agents

We can instruct appointed enforcement agents to collect debts outstanding subject to a liability order. Enforcement agents have the power to seize goods in order to raise funds towards the balance owed.

Once we have instructed the enforcement agent to act a cost of £75.00 per liability order will be added to the debt. If you fail to cooperate with the enforcement agency when they try to contact you, then will instruct an agent to attend your property for the purpose of seizing goods and a further charge of at least £235.00 will be incurred.

Costs associated with enforcement agents

At the point the enforcement agent is instructed, the council will no longer become involved in payment negotiations and you must liaise with the enforcement agents directly.

We currently have three appointed enforcement agencies authorised to collect Council Tax debts on our behalf:

Insolvency proceedings

We can instruct our external litigation solicitors to commence with insolvency proceedings against you. This includes making you personally bankrupt or winding up proceedings against a limited company. If we take this action, our solicitors will issue a letter before action. If you fail to respond, they will commence with the necessary legal steps in the County Court. All legal costs associated with appointing our external solicitors and the associated disbursement fees will be added to the debt.

Committal to prison

If we have exhausted all viable efforts to recover the debt, they may make an application to the Magistrates Court for a committal order. If the Magistrates are satisfied there has been wilful refusal or culpable neglect on your part to pay your non-domestic rates liability then they may impose a custodial sentence of three months.