Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder council tax Novitiate

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    Default sheriff officers in scotland what can they do?

    what are the legally entitled to do in scotland when they are serving you with a notice of attachment as under the debt arrangment and attachment bill?

    i have sheriff officers that say they will break the locks to get in, can they do this?

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  2. #2
    Basic Account Holder UnmoderatetheNet Novitiate

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    Default Re: sheriff officers in scotland what can they do?

    If you listen to scott & co sheriffs in edinburgh they can part the waves and turn water into wine.

    A young man was threatened by sheriffs at his door that unless he paid nearly £200 in cash immediately, they could come in and take his possessions. (A lie – they can only force entry if a special court hearing grants an Exceptional Attachment order). Terrified, the young man and his girlfriend paid on the doorstep in cash, leaving themselves with no money even to buy food for their baby. When they got advice, it was proved the amount demanded was wrong, and the sheriffs had to repay much of the money.

    - People who have been paying their current Council Tax, and also paying a regular agreed sum every month to their arrears, suddenly facing demands to drastically increase their payments. When people have provided evidence that this was impossible, some have been threatened with sequestration and thus the potential loss of their home.

    The Edinburgh City Council meeting of 29 January adopted a new recovery plan for council tax arrears. This branded 2,673 people as "can pay, wont pays" and aims to force them to pay their arrears within a year. Since many people allegedly owe thousands of pounds, this is often impossible.

    Edinburgh Council is a Liberal Democrat – SNP coalition – both avowedly in favour of abolishing the Council Tax, but in practice hounding those who can’t pay it. Politicians = hypocrites?

    Read the full story of the Council's disgusting decision - and find out the names of the guilty councillors - at http://scotland.indymedia.org/node/11121

    STOP THE SHERIFF

    If sheriff officers turn up at your door - don't let them in, don't speak to them, and don't give them any money. They have NO legal right to force entry into your home without a court hearing granting an "Exceptional Attachment Order" - you would have known of the court hearing, as you can contest the application.

    If you get a threatening letter from sheriff officers or the Council, don't panic and pay more than you can afford.

    Remember Council Tax debt is a civil matter, NOT a criminal matter. It is nothing to do with the police, you cannot be arrested or charged for council tax debt. Sheriffs have threatened people with the police – more lies.

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    Default Re: sheriff officers in scotland what can they do?

    I know this is an old thread, but it comes up in google when searching for this information.

    The above poster is not quite right, Sheriff Officers CAN gain entry to your home (amongst other powers) when they are acting on behalf of the crown, eg collecting a council tax debt. No additional court orders are required.

    This is probably a very — if not the most — common reason for Sheriff Officers chasing you, so it's important to mention.

    What will happen if I don't pay my council tax arrears?

    Once a summary warrant has been issued, if you do not make arrangements to pay your council tax arrears the sheriff officers have powers to get the money from you by:
    • arresting your earnings
    • freezing your bank accounts
    • taking money from your bank accounts
    • removing belongings from your home and selling them.
    http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/getad..._tax_arrears#2


  4. #4
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    Default Re: sheriff officers in scotland what can they do?

    Thats good it comes up when you google.

    The poster obviously did'nt go into detail..........I will.

    These parasites feed on ignorance so lets dispel the myths

    •DON'T tell them anything. It's vital not to give Sheriff's Officers any information about your bank, your employer or about anything else.

    •DON'T give them your phone number, you are under no obligation to do so.

    •DON'T let Sheriff's Officers intimidate you. These are lapdogs not rottweilers-their bark is always worse than their bite.

    •DON'T worry too much. Sometimes it can be hard to clear your mind when they are hounding you but it is important to remember that they can't jail you, beat you, rob you of all your belongings or have you hung, drawn and quartered - in fact their powers are very limited.

    •DON'T let them get you talking. No matter how reasonable they may sound they are just trawling for information or for signs of weakness. Be safe- say nothing.

    •DON'T tell them anything. This one is worth repeating.

    Please note – all information here relates to Scotland only: the law is different in England and Wales.

    DEALING WITH SHERIFF'S OFFICER'S AND debt collectorsicon LETTERS.

    Entire forests have been destroyed to produce the innumerable threatening letters the Sheriff's Officers dispatch into our homes. But don't panic - these letters are computer generated. You are one of thousands receiving the same letter. There are many letters they can send carrying many different threats- most of which are empty threats. Check elsewhere in this leaflet for details on particular issues. Look at the letter closely.

    Is it threatening bankruptcy?
    Does it state that they are coming on a specific date to carry out an "attachment" ?
    Does it give a specific date for a court hearing?

    If so GET ADVICE

    But almost always the letter will not give any specific dates. If it merely says action will follow "after 7 days", or that they will visit "week commencing" such and such a date, or some such vague wording, then this does NOT give them the right to enter your home.
    Don't respond to a Sheriff's or debt collectors letter by ringing them up – they will only use this to try and get information from you, no matter how friendly they seem. For example if they get your phone number they will then be able to ring you up.

    IF A SHERIFF OFFICER OR DEBT COLLECTOR KNOCKS ON YOUR DOOR

    Occasionally, Sheriff's Officers might knock on your door. If you are not in, or do not answer, they can do nothing. If you do answer, just say "Ms./Mr. Bloggs isn't in, I'm just a visitor" and just shut the door. Whatever you do, don't talk to them – tell them nothing. You are under no obligation to speak to them. Even if they catch you unawares and you admit who you are, don't let them in.
    Sometimes they issue threats, and overstate their powers. They may say you have to pay them immediately, they may threaten to bring the police, they may threaten to come into your home. These are all lies, they cannot force you to do any of them. Debt is a civil matter, it's nothing to do with the police.
    If anyone turns up on your doorstep asking to discuss debt who is NOT a Sheriffs Officer (for Example from a private debt collection company) remember that they have no statutory powers in Scotland and should be simply asked to leave. If they persist in harassing you contact us for advice and support. There are templateicon letters dealing with this situation.

    CAN THE SHERIFFS OFFICERS SEIZE YOUR PROPERTY?

    The Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act (2003) makes it much more difficult for the Sheriff officers to collect debts through the seizure of personal property.
    The "attachment" of household goods is similar to the old poindings and warrant sales – it means the Sheriffs come into your home and value goods and then they can be sold.
    This now cannot be done merely with the summary warrant – it can only take place after a second application to the Sheriff for an "exceptional attachment order". This requires a court hearing which you can defend.
    Before the Exceptional Attachment Order can be granted debtors must be offered a "debt advice package" and access to advisors – though in practice this seems to be only sending you a general advice leaflet with some contact details.
    “Exceptional Attachment Orders” do not seem commonly used

    DEALING WITH ATTACHMENTS

    Even if they do succeed in gaining an Exceptional Attachment Order, there are easy and practical tactics you can use to make sure the sheriff officers are wasting their time.
    Since you will normally be given some days notice about when the attachment will happen it is a smart move to temporarily remove a few of life's little luxuries to a friends place. The **** will have to fix another date to come back again so you can relax for a while.
    Of course even if you have the confidence of knowing that there is nothing worth taking in the house it can still be an uncomfortable experience having these people in the house. The solution is to have a few friends or supporters drop by during the day in question to offer a bit of solidarity. You could arrange a rota so that you're never alone.
    It is worth bearing in mind that experience shows that the Sheriff's Officers will behave themselves when doing their "home visits" so you needn't expect abuse and strong-arm tactics. Even so if you can get your hands on a kiddies tape recorder (they can't poind toys) it's worthwhile carrying it around as they prowl around-it all adds to their sense of discomfort.
    The most important rule is to tell them that you won't be answering any questions – and stick to it.
    So remember - don't leave any valuables lying around, don't answer questions, and have some support. That way they'll leave with their tails between their legs.

    WHAT THEY CAN'T TAKE AND WHAT THEY CAN

    Items exempt from "attachment": Beds and bedding, household linen, chairs and settees, tables, food, lights and light fittings, heating appliances, curtains, floor coverings, fridges, articles connected with storing, preparing or eating food, articles for cleaning, mending or pressing clothes, furniture for storing food, clothes, bedding and food or food related equipment, tools for maintenance and repair of house or its contents, a home computer and accessories, microwaves, radios, telephones, a T.V., clothing, tools of trade or articles reasonably required for work, medical aids and equipment, books or other articles necessary for education or training, toys and child related articles.
    In practice this leaves them only interested in: VCRs, DVD players, CD players and other electrical "luxury goods".
    Note however that the sheriffs can still attach belongings which are outside your home, without an exceptional attachment order – practically that means cars/motorbikes/pushbikes plus anything that is in a garage or outbuilding. So if you have a vehicle and are expecting them park it a couple of blocks away (but they cannot attach a vehicle “reasonably required” if it is cost less than £1,000). Another tactic is to register the vehicle in someone else's name.

    CHALLENGING AN EXCEPTIONAL ATTACHMENT ORDER

    There are several ways you can challenge an Exceptional Attachment Order, but you must act quickly

    DEALING WITH WAGE ARRESTMENTS

    Sheriff's officers have the power to demand that your employer hands over a proportion of your wages for the payment of debts. This is, of course only of any use to them if they manage to find out where you work.
    This is not easy for them unless you tell them. If you refuse to give them any info about yourself this can't happen. They just don't have the resources to send out spies to follow you around. On occasions they have been known to ask neighbours so if you are on good terms with your neighbours it would be worth having a wee word with them.
    Even if they do manage to find out where you work there are strict limits to what they can take from your wages. If you earn less than £85 they cannot take anything. If you take home between £145 and £160 per week they could take £13. and if you earn £250-£265 per week they can take £32. (note that these figures refer to net earnings, i.e. after tax and NI contributions.)
    It's worth remembering that it's highly unlikely that they will track you down unless you or someone who knows you volunteers the information.

    BENEFITS DEDUCTIONS

    If you are on benefits it is difficult to hide where your income comes from – however it is still important that you don't help the authorities by giving Sheriff Officers or creditors any information. Finding you, getting a summary warrant and going through the process of taking money off your benefits can take a long time. Remember that the longer they take to find you, the better off you will be.
    Once the Council has obtained a summary warrant, they have the power to take deductions for Council Tax debts from Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit. The amount they can take is limited to £3.25 per week (as at December 2009 – it is usually increased slightly each April). Deductions cannot be made from other benefits for Council Tax debts.

    BANK ACCOUNT SECURITY - PROTECT YOUR ASSETS

    Probably the most effective tool the Sheriff's men have is the power to freeze your bank account. However there are some simple security procedures you can use to make life difficult for them. Avoid the bigger banks and building societies and use different initials for your accounts such as using a middle name, or different surnames such as a maiden name etc. Consider using credit unions which exist in many areas - check the telephone directory.
    The Sheriffs Officers usual procedure when hunting for folks bank accounts is simply to send lists of names to the banks and hope for the best so even small variations in the "format" of the name you use to open an account can cause difficulties. You could also open accounts in the name of your kids if you have them.
    Another smart move is to split up your money over several accounts with different banks so that you don't have all your eggs in one basket. Joint accounts are not a good idea as any arrestment served will affect both account holders.
    You should, of course, never volunteer any information about your bank details. If they do track down your account they will serve an "arrestment" which can cover funds up to your total debt plus costs-but this only applies to funds in the account on the date of the arrestment. Any money paid in after that date is still accessible to you although they may of course seek another warrant to steal that from you as well so it should be moved to a new account as soon as possible.
    If all the money paid into your account comes from benefits or tax credits the account cannot be touched. Both the Scottish Law Commission and Scottish Executive agree that social security benefits are exempt from arrestment in terms of section 187 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (see Enforcement of Civil Obligations in Scotland, Scottish Executive report, at paragraph 5.245).
    So keep your money on the move and think carefully about what bank to entrust your cash to. Use variant names, initials and spellings to throw them off your scent and split your money across different accounts. Make life tough for them so they can't make life tougher for you.

    THE THREAT OF BANKRUPTCY

    The threat of bankruptcy has recently been used by Edinburgh City Council in an attempt to pressurise council Tax debtors. Bankruptcy involves the "sequestration" of your assets (excluding items exempt from poinding/ "attachment"-see list elsewhere in this leaflet).
    They can only make you bankrupt if you owe more than £3,000 – if you owe less than that, then it cannot be used. They sometimes send out letters threatening bankruptcy even if you owe less than £3,000, just to try and scare you – don't fall for it.
    Sequestration means that someone else takes over and manages your finances. This person is called the "trustee". The trustee then comes to an arrangement with your creditors about paying off your debts. Homeowners or those running businesses would be most at risk from this procedure. But it's worth bearing in mind that it is a difficult and inefficient means of recovering debts.
    If you have significant savings and especially if you have a mortgageicon then it is something you have to take seriously. However if you are renting your home and are generally skint then they are very unlikely to proceed with bankruptcy.

    We live in an unmoderated country why should the net be any different?
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  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder wee chris Novitiate

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    Default Re: sheriff officers in scotland what can they do?

    I would also like to respond to this thread, although it is a bit out of date.

    About 2 years ago I visited a lawyer regarding catalogue debt which I was unable to pay. She advised me that, in Scotland, no-one apart from the police are legally entitled to come to your door uninvited. I asked if this included Sheriff Officers who had been writing and threatening me with doorstep collectionicon. She said, yes and advised me to close the door on them and call the police who see these people as no better than burglars. She also stated that she hoped they did come to my door as she would be writing a nice little letter to the company involved telling them they were getting nothing as they had broken the law.

    About ten days ago I had someone come to door. He did not introduce himself, but asked me if I was ????? I denied this (partly because I have since married and that is no longer my name lol). He continued to ask me q.uite aggressively who I was and did this person ever live here etc. I told him it was none of his business who I was and I didn't know if the person he named ever lived at my address. He continued to ask me personal questions which I refused to answer and told him I was not going to give personal details to a complete stranger who turned up at my door. He said, "there's nothing strange about it dear" and proceeded to shove a photo of himself with his name on it into my face. I said to him, "so you're name is ????? so you're not a stranger then" and handed him his card back. By this time he was becoming increasingly frustrated by me and my responses. He left saying, "well, I'll have to verify your identity on the voter's roll".

    He returned about 4 days later, but I didn't answer the door and he put a note in my door asking me to call him as the voter's roll had verified that ????? still lived there. Don't know how that can be as I am now on the voter's roll under my married name.

    Anyway, he returned earlier this evening asking me yet again if I was the person named. Yet again I denied it and he told me that the voter's roll confirmed that this person lived here and was she in. I replied, no she wasn't and what did he want me to do about it. Once again he looked aggrieved and told me he didn't want me to do anything, he would now be going down the legal route. Don't know what that will produce as I have no assets whatsover. I have a brand new car in the car, but it is a motability car. I am disabled and as far as I am aware when you marry your spouse is not liable for your debts.

    It was difficult and embarrassing standing my ground against this person when he obviously knew I was lying about my identity, but having read the replies on this thread, I am reassured. I will be speaking to my lawyer regarding what has happened.

    This person was aggressive in his approach, but, I think he knew he had met his match. Unfortunately, not everyone is as brass-necked as me and would stand denying who they are. I also have a full glass front door which looks into my living room which also has a glass door so I couldn't (and wouldn't) hide behind the door.

    I know this guy was bluffing (as he knew I was), so it's really down to who will give in first and it won't be me. At the end of the day, the way I look at it is that this catalogue got a fortune out of me over the years in interesticon, far more than the original debt was, so they have been paid many times over and I am no longer in a position (or willing) to pay them any more.

    Power to the People I say!!!


  6. #6
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    Default Re: sheriff officers in scotland what can they do?

    In Scotland if there's a period of five years where no payment or written admission of the debt made it becomes statute barredicon and no enforcement can be taken in any case.

    Anthrax alert at debt collectors caused by box of doughnuts

    Make sure you do not post anything which identifies you. Although we can remove certain things from the site unless it's done in a timely manner everything you post will appear in Google cache & we do not have any control over that.

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  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder wee chris Novitiate

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    Thumbs up Re: sheriff officers in scotland what can they do?

    Thanks for your reply. I had heard that somewhere before, but I thought it meant enforcement against you couldn't take place if they hadn't chased it up in that time, not that if they hadn't received payment or an admission of debt.



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