If you don't pay your business rates

If you are experiencing financial difficulties and are unable to afford your business rates, you should contact us immediately. We don't promise to be able to help everyone but the sooner you contact us, the better our chances of being able to help.

You can call the business rates office on 01372 732279 or e-mail us at businessrates@epsom-ewell.gov.uk.

If you do not contact us, and continue to default on your payments, action will be taken to recover any money outstanding. This may involve the issue of a Magistrates Court summons and could result in action by an enforcement agent, insolvency or even committal to prison.

What will happen if I do not pay my business rates?

Business rates are payable by 10 or 12 monthly instalments due on the first day of each month and payments should be on your account by that date.

If you do not pay an instalment at the correct time so that it shows on your account by the instalment date, you will receive a reminder. If you don’t pay the amount on the reminder within seven days, you will lose the right to pay by instalments and the full amount for the year will become due and payable immediately. If you bring your account up to date but are again late in paying an instalment, you will also lose your right to instalments. This will result in the full amount for the year becoming due and payable immediately.

If you do not pay the full balance, you will be sent a summons to appear in the Magistrates Court for non-payment. The issue of a summons will also involve you incurring costs of £120.50 (£123.00 prior to 25 July 2018); these are incurred at the time the summons is issued and must be paid in addition to the outstanding balance of your business rates.

If you have any sort of query regarding the summons, or you think that it has been issued incorrectly, please contact us as soon as possible

Failure to pay the summons will result in us making application to the court for a Liability Order.

The Liability Order allows us to take any one of the following actions: 

  • employ enforcement agents to seize goods to pay for your debt
  • start insolvency proceedings against you 
  • make an application for your committal to prison for a maximum of three months (if the enforcement agent is unable to recover the debt).

Enforcement agents

If your account is passed to our enforcement agents an additional amount of £75 in fees will be added to your outstanding balance. If you receive a letter from one of our agents you should contact them immediately on the details below. Failure to do so can result in further fees being added to your account. Once your case has been passed to an enforcement agent we will only intervene in exceptional circumstances.

If you wish to check the certification of the Enforcement Agent who has contacted you, you can do so on the Justice.gov.uk website

Bristow & Sutor Enforcement Agents

Bartleet Road
B98 0FL
Tel: 0871 677 0070
Website: www.bristowsutor.co.uk

Goodwillie & Corcoran Enforcement Agents

Stamford House
57 Liddon Road
Tel: 0208 466 9111
Website: www.gandc.net


For information about the role of enforcement agents please visit the Civil Enforcement Association Website.

Committal to prison

If you are a sole trader and our enforcement agent has been unable to gain entry to your property or take control of goods, we may then apply for a warrant committing you to prison for up to three months. This means that you will be summonsed to the Magistrates’ Court for an enquiry into your means and circumstances. The court will decide if your failure to pay is due to wilful refusal or culpable neglect. If you are found guilty you could face a prison sentence of up to three months.

It is very important that you give this matter your immediate attention as your conduct will have a bearing on any decision that the Magistrates may make should you appear before them.


After the making of a Liability Order in the Magistrates' Court, we have several options when considering what action to take against a business rates defaulter.

Each case is considered on its merits and, if insolvency is to be used, the customer will be served with a statutory notice that clearly sets out what the customer should do next.

If the debt is not paid and a satisfactory arrangement is not made within the required timescale, the business will be put into liquidation. If it is a sole trader, they will be made bankrupt. Insolvency is a complex area. For further information, please contact the business rates team on 01372 732279 or by email to businessrates@epsom-ewell.gov.uk.