Service on Clubs, Trusts and Charities – A Note of Caution
The rules for service of bills, reminders and summons leading to liability order proceedings are set out in Regulation 13 of the NDR (Collection and Enforcements) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989:
(2) A summons issued under regulation 12(2) may be served on a person–
(a) by delivering it to him,
(b) by leaving it at his usual or last known place of abode, or in the case of a company, at its registered office,
(c) by sending it by post to him at his usual or last known place of abode, or in the case of a company, to its registered office,
(d) where all or part of the sum to which it relates is payable with respect to a hereditament which is a place of business of the person, by leaving it at, or by sending it by post to him at, the place of business, or
(e) by leaving it at, or by sending it by post to him at, an address given by the person as an address at which service of the summons will be accepted.
Many organisations such as working men’s clubs, charities and trusts are not limited companies, but rather, are unincorporated associations. This may have implications in relation to service under regulation 13, particularly if the hereditament in question is not occupied by them, and therefore a service cannot be effected in accordance with 13(2)(d).
Regulation 13(2)(c) states that it may be posted to the registered office “in the case of a company”, but this will not apply to unincorporated associations.
This may leave the door open to such organisations to challenge liability orders on the grounds of service, unless service can be brought within one of the other regulations.
It is suggested therefore that documentation will have to be served on a trustee or a committee member of the organisation at his or her usual or last place of abode. If this is not openly available, then the council may be left with no option but to trace that individual and service arranged accordingly.
Of course we accept that in the vast majority of cases the property is likely to be occupied, and so service can be effected by posting it to the hereditament.
However in a recent case in which we were pursuing a charity for unpaid rates where relief was not granted, the charity was successful in having the liability order set aside even though they had given their registered address on the charities commission website, this did not satisfy the requirements of regulation 13(2)(c).