Lancashire firms Carter Goldmann Ltd and Hamnett Marketing Ltd were ordered into liquidation by the High Court after they misled over 800 members of the public into paying for services to challenge council tax banding.

The winding-up follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Hamnett Marketing Ltd cold-called members of the public to arrange appointments for Carter Goldmann Ltd sales agents to visit them at home.

Agents invariably told prospective customers that they were likely to be successful in obtaining council tax re-banding and hence a rebate on council tax paid in previous years. Customers were required to pay an upfront fee of 179 if they wished to instruct Carter Goldmann Ltd.

Between April 2014 and 13 October 2014 at least 877 customers signed agreements with Carter Goldmann Ltd but only 8 applications made by the company for council tax re-banding were successful.

The companies had continued the business model of Dalton & Dalton Tax Consultants Ltd, an associated company which also had a success rate of less than 1% and which was wound up on 4 April 2014 following an Insolvency Service investigation.

Colin Cronin, Investigation Supervisor, said:

Carter Goldmann Ltd and Hamnett Marketing Ltd were set up to continue a failed business model which the Court had previously ruled to operate against the public interest. Those behind the companies knew that they would be highly unlikely to be in a position to provide the promised results. Property owners can apply for free directly to the Valuations Office Agency to have their council tax band reassessed there is no need to use an agency to do this.

The Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies and their directors when the public are misled in this way.