There is a limited time for objecting to the accounts and asking external auditor to apply to the high court. It is called the “period for the exercise of public rights” and the Council must advertise when it is on its website. The period lasts 30 working days and usually occurs in June, July or August. The 30 day period must include a common period of inspection during which all councils’ accounts are available to inspect. This will be 1-14 July 2016 for the 2015-16 accounts.
You must be a local elector to ask the external auditor to take your objection to the high court. If you prefer not to take action alone, you can ask someone else to represent you, who does not have to be a local elector.
An unlawful item of account is one that records spending and income that the council:
- spent or received without powers to do so
- took from or added to the wrong fund or account
- spent on something that they had the power to spend on, but the decision to spend the money was wholly unreasonable or irrational
If the external auditor agrees with you that the item is unlawful they can apply to the high court for a judge to give a declaration to that effect. If the court agrees it can make the declaration and order the Council to correct the accounts.
If the external auditor decided not to apply to the court for a declaration, you can appeal but you will have to take the matter to court yourself. You must file your appeal in the Administrative Court section of the High Court. The time limit for doing so is a matter of weeks and you should get legal advice as soon as possible. You may, if your appeal is not upheld, have to pay all of your costs associated with the appeal, and may also be ordered to pay the external auditor’s and council’s legal costs.
You must send a notice in writing to the external auditor and a copy to the Council. You should be able to find the name and the address of the auditor and of the Council on the Council’s website.
The notice must include:
- confirmation that you ar an elector in the Council’s area
- why you are objecting to the accounts and the facts on which you rely
- details of the items in the account that you think is unlawful
- details of any matter you think the external auditor should make a public interest report about
- A request for the external auditor to apply to the high court for a declaration that the item is unlawful
- that you are objecting within the powers available under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
What can you indicate to the external auditor as unlawful regarding LOBO loans?
As each Council Accounts will vary, we advise you to get in touch with Debt Resistance UK if you want to proceed so we can provide you with more in-depth legal and financial advice.
Source: National Audit Office