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Cost order imposed under Council Tax legislation was unlawful

R (Nicolson) v Tottenham Magistrates & Anor [2015] EWHC 1252 (Admin)

Related Member(s):
Helen Mountfield QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Tax Law, Public Law

The claimant sought judicial review of a costs order imposed by a magistrates’ court under the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, reg 34(7).

The Court held that the magistrates had not addressed the causal connection which had to be established between the costs claimed and the obtaining of the liability. It stated that the magistrate had focused on the wrong question and tried to establish whether the amount of costs claimed was a reasonable amount instead of whether those costs were “reasonably” incurred in obtaining the liability order.

The Court also stated that the order was unlawful because the magistrates did not have sufficient relevant information about how the figures were calculated and the local authority had not been forthcoming in providing this information when it was requested by the claimant. It was not enough to simply rely on being told that the costs had something to do with administrative time and the number of people involved in making the application.

Helen Mountfield QC was involved in this case.