Business owners from across Northampton were left disappointed when their case against the Business Improvement District charge was put back until next year.
Northampton Town Centre BID and Brackmills BID had issued summonses to 106 shops and other firms for not paying the levy, which is combined into two pots of funding to be spent in the town centre and the industrial estate.
As it was, only 14 people turned up at Northampton Magistrates' Court to represent a dozen businesses in person.
However, the court had not set enough time aside to hear even this smaller number of cases individually. The clerk asked that the businesses nominated a single spokesperson to defend all of them, or else magistrates would not have enough time to hear them all.
But the business owners argued that they had not been given enough notice to discuss a joint defence and, in any case, they had varying reasons for opposing the levy.
Despite the adjournment, some of the businessmen were able to outline their argument.
Danny Parmar of Styles of London, in The Drapery, said: "Many of us didn't know that the vote to continue the town centre BID was taking place. How can we be made to pay a levy we had no say in?
"Everything BID claim they are doing should be covered in our rates."
Several of the business people in the court room expressed dismay at the adjournment, with a venue of Wellingborough initially offered.
Yanny Brewer, of Magic Bean Emporium, said: "We've all lost money by closing this morning. We need it to be here so we're not wasting our time."
The case was adjourned until February.