UK sues Ghana High Commission for £5m in unpaid congestion charges in London for more than 20 years

The UK government is pursuing several countries, including Ghana and the United States, for non-payments of outstanding London congestion charges over the past 20 years.

The Ghana High Commission in the UK owes just over £5m.

The outstanding Embassy Congestion Charge debt according to Transport for London (TfL), had accumulated from 2003 to December 31, 2023.

All diplomatic missions together owe more than £143 million to Transport for London (TfL) for non-payments of congestion charges.

The US embassy owes the largest amount: £14.6 million. The Japanese Embassy is next with more than £10.1 million, while Togo owes just £40.

TfL figures They refer to unpaid fees and fines accumulated by diplomats between the launch of the congestion charge in 2003 and the end of last year.

The scheme involves a daily fee of £15 for driving within a central London area between 07:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday, and between midday and 18:00 on weekends and public holidays. .

There are discounts and exemptions for various groups of people and vehicles, such as residents, taxis and fully electric cars.

TfL said in a statement: “We and the UK Government are clear that the congestion charge is a charge for a service and not a tax.

“This means that diplomats are not exempt from paying it.

“The majority of embassies in London pay the fee, but there remains a stubborn minority who refuse to do so, despite our representations through diplomatic channels.

“We will continue to investigate all unpaid congestion charges and related penalty notices, and are pushing for the matter to be brought before the International Court of Justice.”

The Foreign Office said it expected diplomats to pay the charge, adding that they believed there were no legal grounds for diplomatic exemptions.

According to the BBC, a spokesperson for the US Embassy in London said: “In accordance with international law reflected in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, our position is that the congestion charge is a tax from which missions diplomatic are exempt.

“Our long-standing position is shared by many other diplomatic missions in London.”

In February 2020, then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued a written ministerial statement revealing that his officials had written to “a number of diplomatic missions and international organisations” to “press for payment” of money owed in relation with the congestion charge, parking fines and business rates.

DISCLAIMER: The views, comments, opinions, contributions and statements made by readers and contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.