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
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    Default Marstons Bailiffs Calling (Magistrates' Court Fine) - Help Needed!

    Hey everyone, i'm new here, no doubt you have heard this all before BUT i really am scared.

    I'm 19 years old and live with my partner. A few months back she got a drunken and disordely fine of £80. When we called up to pay it the lady told me she had no record of my partners name or details. We obviously left it and soon after started receiving letters from the court and a debt collectionicon agency. We tried calling the court on many occasions and were passed from one department to the other. Basically they took the pee and in the end we both gave in being on hold and then transferred. It was wasting us time and money.

    However yesterday i had a hand delivered letter through my door from Marston Debt Recovery with an intent to remove goods. They stated in the letter that if we do not pay then they will use a locksmith to force entry into our property. Fat lot of good it will do as we have bugger all anyway. They are apparently going to do this in the next few days. The £80 has now turned into a huge £345 and its just not possible for us to pay right now. My partners just started a new job and doesnt get paid for 5 more weeks.

    What can i do???

    I'm worried they are going to ransack my property!

    Please help,

    Regards Emily


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Get hold of Tomtubby on this site, they are the bailiff expert and can help further. I can't give much advice because I don't know how fines work. Contact Tomtubby, thats your best avenue at the moment.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    If they have not been ordered by a court to do this, then they have no legal authority & the police can be called immediately.
    The hand delivered letter may not have been hand delivered at all - may well be one of those silly cards the postman delivers that makes it look like someone from the DCAicon has knocked?
    I would persist with the court if i were you & find out one way or the other what the situation is - do not give up this time if you do until you get a definitive answer to what is going on....
    Their are so many complex rules regarding what bailiffs can & cannot take - so its worth looking this up for your peace of mind.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Hope all this helps...

    If you think that bailiffs may call at your house, be aware that you do not have to let them in. However, if you leave any doors or windows open they have the right to enter through them. Once they have gained entry they may also force entry to any other parts of the premises. However, if you do refuse to let them in then they will be sure to return at some other time and the problem will not go away. In the long term you need to seek help from one of the agencies listed below.
    What can I do if I receive a notice to say a bailiff is coming to my house?
    If you have received notification to say a bailiff is going to call at your house, you may be able to negotiate with them or the lender (creditor).
    You may also be able to make an application to the court to suspend the bailiff's action. Your local CAB or an advice agency will be able to advise you on how this can be done. If you cannot suspend the bailiff's action, it may not be too late to make an offer to the bailiff to repay the debt over a period of time.
    If you cannot afford to make the bailiff an offer, your local CAB may be able to help by negotiating with the bailiff on your behalf. When you seek advice make sure you have all the necessary papers left by the bailiff.
    If you know a bailiff is going to call, try to have a witness there and make sure you note down everything the bailiff says or any of the powers they claim to have.
    Read on for a fuller and deeper insight on bailiffs.
    A visit from a bailiff can be a frightening and stressful experience. This page explains what a bailiff can and cannot do when they call at your home.
    How do I deal with a bailiff at my door?
    The bailiff can call at your house at any reasonable time to seize goods, but you do not have to let them in.
    The bailiff cannot enter your house by force, but they can legally enter your property through open windows or unlocked doors, so make sure all your doors and windows are locked or closed!
    Once the bailiff has been inside your house by entering peacefully, they can call again at a later date and enter your house without your permission, forcefully, to remove your goods.
    When seizing goods the bailiff must leave the premises safe.
    When in your house the bailiff has the right of access to all rooms and can force their way into other parts of the property.
    Which goods can a bailiff take?
    There are some exceptions to what the bailiff can take from your home:-
    A bailiff acting on a county courticon Judgment cannot seize clothing, bedding, furniture, household equipment or other goods necessary to meet basic domestic needs.
    Generally, no bailiff can seize tools, books, vehicles or other equipment necessary for personal use in employment or business. However, a bailiff acting for Poll Tax, Council Tax, VAT and Tax may be able to do so.
    No bailiff can seize goods belonging to anyone other than the person named on the distress warrant.
    A bailiff cannot seize goods subject to a hire purchase or rental agreement (goods on credit sale can be seized because they belong to the person).
    Goods you own jointly with someone else can be taken.
    The bailiff may take the goods away immediately, but what will usually happen is that the bailiff and the debtor will come to an agreement known as a "walking possession agreement". This means that the debtor has agreed to pay the bailiff a maximum of 45pence plus VAT per day for the continued use of the goods. This is not permanent and will only give the debtor a few days to try and re-negotiate with the court. If a bailiff has gained entry and the debtor does not want the goods to be removed immediately, this agreement has to be signed.
    Goods seized by the bailiff must be put into auctionicon to be sold, the bailiff is under a legal obligation to obtain the best price possible. As the goods are second-hand, the value of the goods are only a fraction of what their new value was. A bailiff will often identify many more goods than you might expect.
    Your rights
    You cannot be sent to prision for not co-operating with a bailiff. You do not have to let them into your house. You should seek advice as soon as possible.
    A bailiff must not threaten you illegally, force entry to your home or use offensive language. If you are concerned about a bailiff's behaviour, you can complain either to the creditor or to the court that sent them.
    Types of bailiff
    A bailiff is someone who is instructed:-
    by a creditor to enforce a money debt or a fine
    by a landlord to carry out an eviction
    by a creditor to repossess goods under hire purchase or a conditional sale agreement
    to enforce an injunction
    A bailiff has legal authority to carry out these actions. A bailiff can enter your home and take away possessions which, when sold off, will go towards repaying the money owed.
    There are three different kinds of bailiffs: County Court bailiffs, Sheriff's Officers and private bailiffs.
    County Court bailiffs are directly employed by the County Court and must follow guidelines laid down by the Lord Chancellor's Department.
    Sheriff's Officers are contracted by the High Court and work in geographical county areas. They work out of the local Sheriff's Office under the control of an Under- Sheriff who is usually responsible for that area. If a creditor has a CCJ of more than £600 they can transfer the judgement up to the High Court for enforcement.
    Private bailiffs are self-employed, employed by a private firm, or employed as bailiffs by another organisation (e.g Local Authority, Inland Revenue).
    Certificated bailiffs are granted a certificate following an application to a County Court. Certification is only necessary to empower a bailiff to levy distress for rent arrears and council tax arrears and to enforce road traffic debts, although some local authorities will insist on this for all bailiff work.
    To be granted a certificate a bailiff must:-
    1) Satisfy the court that s/he is a 'fit and proper person' to hold a certificate and possesses sufficiant knowledge of the law of distress; and
    2) Lodge in court a bond or deposit for £10,000 or have an insurance indemnity for this amount. A new security must be provided if the old security runs out or is reduced.



  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Thank you so much for all your help so far.

    It was definately a letter from a bailiff as i called him. He had left his name and number on the letter.

    I know this will sound odd, but he cant take my puppy can he?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    If it is not your debt they cannot take anything that belongs to you & no the won't take your puppy.

    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
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    So i can say everythings mine then?

    I'm guessing he wont go away so how do i go about paying it off slowly?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    If he isnt working for a court, then he has no right to enter your property = end of.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    It might be best to ask a moderator to move this thread to the Bailiff forum, dealing with bailiff issues is a bit more complicated than run of the mill debt collectionicon stuff.

    If you've made genuine efforts to pay, then the additional charges should be removed, it's their mistake after all. But I'm not too sure how one goes about that. From the little I do know about bailiff stuff, it looks like tyhey've added a load of illegal charges anyway.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Thread moved.

    Any advice I give is honest and in good faith.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    I think the bottom line to this is that
    IT'S NOT YOUR DEBT.
    I'm assuming you're not married to your, "partner"?

    As has already been stated, they can't take anything
    of yours for someone else's debt/s.

    I certainly wouldn't let him/her in to your house either.

    If my post was helpful don't forget to click the star!

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  12. #12
    Basic Account Holder dawnwb Novitiate

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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Hi, If the fine was imposed by a magistrates court. Your girl friend needs to fill out and sign a statutory decleration as soon as possiable.
    I would advise her to go to citizen advice tomorrow. They should be able to help her with that.

    The procedure for collecting a fine is as follows:

    • After the fine is imposed, notice of the fine and the repayment rate (if one has been agreed) is sent out to you.

    • If payments are missed, or not made at all, a reminder is sent to you.

    • If you do not bring the payments up to date, a court hearing will usually be arranged and you are informed of the date.

    • If you do not attend the hearing, the court can issue a warrant without bail. This means that you can be arrested and bought back before the court.

    • Issue a Committal Warrant to commit you to prison (if there is a suspended sentence already on the fine).

    If a warrant has been issued, you are required to either pay this, or, if you are unable to afford to do so, you need to contact the Fines Department of the Magistrates Court to arrange a date when you can attend for a Means Enquiry hearing. Our advice is that this must be done immediately. This is a very simple hearing where you will be required to complete an Income & Expenditure form so that the Magistrates can agree repayments at an affordable level. You must ensure that you maintain these payments.

    If the bailiff is pursuing you for an unpaid fine of a criminal nature…then the answer unfortunately, is... yes. However, this is more of a threat and during the past year it would appear that bailiffs forced entry into a property to enforce a Distress Warrant on less that 10 occasions.
    The right for bailiffs acting on behalf of the Magistrates Court the power to “enter and search any premises” for the purpose of executing a Warrant of Distress was granted under Paragraph 3 of Schedule 4A of the Magistrates Courts Act 2004. This provision was also then inserted into the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.
    The right to force entry however only applies to the collection of unpaid fines which are criminal matters.
    It is important to note that these rules do not apply to the collection of unpaid council tax, business rates, unpaid parking and congestion charge notices, CSA arrears etc. The rules only apply to unpaid fines administered in the Magistrates Court.

    That advice is for magistrate fines im presuming she was fined at a magistrates court?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    No shes not been to court, it was a form a policeman gave her.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Then she cannot deny knowledge of it.

    Marston's are enforcing a magistrates distress warrant so therefore do have the right to force entry.

    As it was a hand delivered letter the fees are correct.

    Very doubtful they will accept a payment arrangement - you need advise from Tomtubby really.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Shes not denying knowledge of it. Neither of us are.

    I'm more than certain they do not have the right to force any entry into my property if i tell him he cant come in. Wouldnt that be breaking in and or breach of peace?

    And how can you be so sure that they wont set up any payment plans?? At the end of the day if i cant give them any money right now then its tough.

    Regarding the above posts. Thanks for moving this to the correct catergory. i will try and find my local CAB, kinda hard for me to deal with it when my parners at work.

    Are there any other things i can do?


  16. #16
    Basic Account Holder pink_eeyore Novitiate

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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Quote Originally Posted by Help_Me View Post
    Shes not denying knowledge of it. Neither of us are.

    That was in refernece to submitting a stat dec

    I'm more than certain they do not have the right to force any entry into my property if i tell him he cant come in. Wouldnt that be breaking in and or breach of peace?

    No, as it is a court fine/warrant they are legally allowed to force entry if required (only type of warrant where it is allowed)

    And how can you be so sure that they wont set up any payment plans?? At the end of the day if i cant give them any money right now then its tough.

    Through previous knowledge plus you had that opportunity before it was sent to the bailiffs - i would be amazed if they accepted one

    Regarding the above posts. Thanks for moving this to the correct catergory. i will try and find my local CAB, kinda hard for me to deal with it when my parners at work.

    Are there any other things i can do?
    You really need tomtubby's advice as she is an expert on HMCS


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Quote Originally Posted by Help_Me View Post

    I'm more than certain they do not have the right to force any entry into my property if i tell him he cant come in. Wouldnt that be breaking in and or breach of peace?
    i will try and find my local CAB, kinda hard for me to deal with it when my parners at work.

    Are there any other things i can do?
    Regarding entering into your property, when i spoke to my bailiff over my parking ticketicon, he told me he could only force entry if he was here over a criminal matter, parking tickets arnt criminal but wouldnt drunk and dissordely be a criminal matter? If so then he can force entry.
    You can call the CAB helpline for advice, each local CAB has its own local number help line, you could do that while your girl friend is at work.
    Thats what i would do if i were you


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    I have to agree with pink eeyore and say yes they can break in to your home with regards to a criminal fine, its not often that they do it but they do have the rights to do it.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    I too have had dealings with Marstons, in my case it was a fine for not having a TV licence = 175.00 court fine. Given in Sept 08.

    I stupidly didnt pay this, as i was going through a few difficulties at the time. Marstons were given the job of collecting and wanted me to pay 400.00 including there fees. I refused to deal with Marstons and asked the court if i could pay them direct, explaining my situation.

    They refused and so i again insisted i would not deal with Marstons at all, as i knew they would only accept high payments, that i couldnt afford.

    After 6 months or so i got a letter from the court, saying i had to attend a hearing - or pay the fine in full = 175.

    I have now paid off the money i owed in full, direct to the court, and have not heard from Marstons.

    I think due to the fact that i never dealt with Marstons at all, i ignored their letters and constant visits - they were very very persistant, hammering at the door, sitting in vehicle outside for nearly 2 hours one time. It was scary, its is so bad when you cant open your front door because you are scared its a bailiff, also worried they were going to break into your home. Too embarrassed to have anyone at your home, incase a bailiff called and you couldnt open the door. It was an awful time.

    I think with me they just gave up on the idea of collecting on the debt and returned it to court - at which time i was able to pay it off.

    It was a terrible experience to go through, even though i got the result i wanted.

    Hope this information helps someone else.

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    Default Re: Help! I'm Really Worried..

    Quote Originally Posted by Help_Me View Post
    No shes not been to court, it was a form a policeman gave her.
    was it an on the spot fine that the policeman gave her at the time of offence

    if it was dont know if that would make any difference, by the fact she just hadn't paid it.

    would it still have to go to court after non-payment to involve a bailiff.

    i dont know if this right though



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