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  1. On 6th April 2014 significant changes were made to 'bailiff enforcement' and it is important for anyone viewing this forum to understand how the new regulations affect the 'clamping (or immobilisation) of a motor vehicles and the implications on debtors (or others) if a wheel clamp is removed. The following is a brief summary: 'Clamping' (Immobilsing) of a motor vehicle: The regulations clearly provide that an enforcement agent may immobilise a vehicle by fitting a wheel clamp. For those interested, the relevant legisation can be found under Section 1© of Regulation 16 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 entitled: Securing Goods of the Debtor on Premises where found. Location where a vehicle may be clamped (immobilised) The regulation clearly provide that a vehicle may be clamped at: The debtor's home The debtor's place of business or: On the 'Highway'. NB: CIVEA and I differ on the interpretation of 'Highway' and I will write more on the 'definition' at a later stage. However, for the avoidance of doubt, an enforcment agent may NOT take control of a vehicle in either a public or a private car park (which includes supermarkets, large shopping outlets etc), unadopted roads or other land that is owned by private individuals (such as a neighbours or relatives driveway). Does Section 54 of Chapter 2 of the Protection of Freedoms Act apply? NO!!! Section 54 is ONLY in relation to unathorised parking on private land (such as supermarket car parks, large shopping centre etc). It does not apply to private driveways given that the new regulations allow for goods to be 'taken into control' at "the debtors home". Clamping of a car belonging to wife/husband One area of the new regulations that I confess to being uncomfortable with is that of 'joint-ownership'. In this respect, goods in which a 'co-owner' has an 'interest' may be taken into control. The enforcement agent would need to either 'know' that the person has an 'interest' (in the goods0 or that he would know if he made 'reasonable' enquiries.
  2. On 6th April the new Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 took effect and full details can be read in the various 'STICKY's at the top of this page. One very important "Sticky' relates to the 'transitional' position...which is where an enforcement company had commenced work to enforce the debt before 6th April (under the previous applicable fee scale) but where the debt remained unpaid when the new regulations took effect on 6th April.....and a new fee scale introduced. Although the new regulations have only been in force for 10 days it would appear that some enforcement companies (names being withheld for the present time) are making significant 'mistakes' in their calculation of fees when re-commencing enforcement. I will provide details shortly. In the meantime below is a copy of the 'STICKY' that I had written to outline the 'transitional' stage.
  3. For at least six years an individual (known to many on here) has posted on various websites (including this one) claims that debtors are not liable to pay bailiff/enforcement agent fees when enforcing unpaid Magistrate Court FINES. Furthermore, since 2007 that individual would advise debtors to pay the amount of the fine only in CASH into the ATM 'Drop Box' in the Magistrate Court foyer in the mistaken belief that the distress warrant would be 'expunged' or 'revoked'. In 2012 the individual took over a small 'advice forum' and since that time he has continued to provide the above 'advice' and in cases where a debtor had paid bailiff fees, the individual would (for a fee) offer to draft a claim form against the Ministry of Justice and that 'supposedly' refunds were made. It is noteworthy that to date (and despite many requests) the website has failed to provide any evidence whatsoever of a successful claim. The same 'advise' as above also features on almost all websites with connections to the Freeman on the Land movement. On 6th April the new regulations took effect and it is of serious concern that the individual is continuing to mislead debtors into believing that the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 do not provide for debtors to be charged a fee when enforcing an unpaid magistrate court fine. In other words...they wrongly consider that the government are continuing to provide a free collection service to debtors with unpaid court fines !!! For the avoidance of doubt, the new regulations (and fees) apply to the enforcement of unpaid council tax, unpaid PCN's and of course......unpaid court fines).
  4. The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. Statutory Notices Notice of Enforcement: This notice must provide the amount of the debt and the relevance Compliance Stage fee. The Notice of Enforcement must state the precise date that the debtor must pay or agree a payment arrangement with the enforcement agent. If the debtor does not pay or agree a payment arrangement by the date specified an enforcement agent will make a personal visit and may seize your belongings. This is called 'taking control'. The notice must also outline the additional fees and expenses that may be applied if payment is not made by the date specified Details on how to pay (with the opening hours and days) together with the contact details must be provided. Controlled Goods Agreement By entering into a Controlled Goods Agreement you will be able to continue to use the goods listed but you need to be aware that you are acknowledging that the goods listed are under the 'control' of the Enforcment Agent until the sum outstanding is paid in full. The Controlled Goods Agreement also must state that if you fail to stick to the terms of the agreement the goods may be removed and sold. This will incur a further fee. The notice will state the debt outstanding, the Compliance Stage fee, Enforcment Stage fee and any expenses. The Agreement must be signed by the debtor, a person authorised by the debtor or a person 'in apparent authority'. The Agreement must provide a detailed description of the item (eg: Computer, television, car etc together with the make and model (if known) and the relevant serial number, colour and any identifying marks. Warning of Immobilisation This notice will be provided if the Enforcement agent has fitted a clamp to the vehicle. This notice only needs to be signed by the Enforcement Agent. Notice of Intention to re-enter premises. This notice will be sent where a debtor has failed to keep to the payment terms under the Controlled Goods agreement and the notice is to advice that the enforcement agent intends to re-enter your premises to either 'inspect the goods' or to remove them for sale'. This Notice must provide details of the Controlled Goods Agreement and details of how the agreement has failed. This notice will provide the amount of the debt, the Compliance Stage fee and Enforcment Stage fee and details of the precise date and time when payment must be made. Details of the additional fees that could apply must be provided. Notice after Entry or Taking Control of Goods (on a highway) and Inventory of Goods Taken into Control This notice will advise the debtor of the action taken by the Enforcment agent (to enter premise or to take control of a vehicle on a highway. Details on how to make payment and the date and time by which the payment must be made. The goods will be released on payment in full (or may be released if you have signed a payment arrangement with the enforcement agent). This notice only requires to be signed by the Enforcment Agent. Notice that goods have been removed for storage or sale. This must be provided to the debtor when goods are actually removed. This notice must outline the daily or weekly storage fee. The notice will also outline the debt, Compliance Stage fee, Enforcment Stage Fee and Sale stage fee and any 'expenses'. Payment in full will avoid the sale of the goods and the goods may be collected. The notice only requires the signature of the Enforcement agent. Inventory This notice is to advise the debtor and co-owner that goods have been taken into control taken into control listed belong to the debtor and a co-owner and once again, only needs to be signed by the Enforcement Agent Notice of Sale This must be provided PRIOR to the sale the goods have been sold and must provide the name of the co-owner (if applicable) This itemise the debt, Compliance Stage fee, Enforcment Stage Fee, sale Stage fee and any expenses. details must also be provided of the date, time and place of sale and will advise WHEN the sale will take place and the time. If payment in full is made goods can be collected. The notice must itemises the goods (model, serial number etc) and must also provide a 'valuation'. The sale is conditional on the reserve price being met. If this condition is not met a new time and place of sale must be given in a further notice. Notice of Abandonment of Goods This notice will tell you that goods listed have been formally abandoned and that you are free to collect the goods. The reason for abandonment will be because the debtor or co-owner were not given notice of sale within the period required by law. Goods must be collected within 28 days of the date provide on the Notice.
  5. Guidance: Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. An Introduction: On 6 April 2014, the law on bailiffs changed. It is not clear how the new rules will work in practice and whether they will lead to more or to less complaints. In the coming weeks more information will be forthcoming and this thread will naturally be updated. Terminology: The new regulations modernise terminology. The terms 'levy, ‘distress’ or ‘distrain’ are now known as the process of: ‘taking control of goods’ A ‘Walking Possession Agreement’ is now called a: ‘Controlled Goods Agreement’. Bailiffs will now be known as: ‘Enforcement Agents’. The ony exception will be a County Court bailiff who will continue to be called a ‘bailiff’. A ‘warrant of execution’ (in partcular for road traffic debts) and a ‘warrant of distress’ (for unpaid Magistrate Court fines) are now called ‘warrants of control’ and a ‘writ of fieri facias’ (in relation to a debt enforced via the High Court) is renamed a ‘writ of control’ Enforcement Agent Fees: On 6th April the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 came into effect which comprises of a strict three stage process. With the exception of 'writs of control' enforced via the High Court, the following fees apply to all debts (council tax, non domestic rates, parking charge notices, child support agency arrears, rent arrears and unpaid magistrate court fines). Stage 1: Compliance Stage Fee: £75 Upon receipt of an instruction from the client, the Enforcement Agent must send a Notice of Enforcement giving the debtor a minimum of seven clear days notice that a visit will take place to take control of goods. This fee is payable for each Liability Order or Warrant of Control. Stage 2: Enforcement Stage fee: £235.00 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt that exceeds £1,500.00). An Enforcement Agent shall attend the premises to take control of goods prior to the removal of goods. This fee become chargeable when the case in not paid during the Compliance stage or where a payment arragement is broken and an Enforcement Agent visits the property to remove goods. It is important to note that if the enforcement agents is enforcing more than one Liability Order or Warrant of Control against the same debtor he may only charge one ‘enforcement stage’ fee. He cannot apply ‘multiple’ charges. Stage 3: Sale stage Fee: £110.00 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt that exceeds £1,500.00). This fee shall be charged when an Enforcement Agent attends the premises to remove goods and make preparations for the sale of goods. It is important to note that additional charges may be applied relating to the removal. These include storage and locksmith’s fees. Forms and documentation: This is a major and very welcome change. In the past it was common to receive correspondence from a bailif company that failed to provide a breakdown of fees (and in many cases, letters were undated or failed to even state an amount at all). Those days are gone: Under the new regulations the enforcement agents must comply with strict criteria which much more stringent identification of goods. A seperate “STICKY” provides details of each of the statutory notices and the relevant information that must be provided on them. Making a payment proposal: The new legislation provides debtors with a strict period in which to make payment or to negotiate a payment arrangement but, once that stage is past, there is a more focused and rapid procedure for the identification and removal of goods. It is therefore of vital importance that a debtor does not waste this early opportunity to inform the enforcement company of any vulnerability. Communicating with either the local authority or enforcement agent at an early stage is vital. However, it is importat to be aware that the enforcement company do not have to accept a payment proposal but should certainly do so if the amount being offered is a sensible one which will see the debt being repaid in a short period of time (3-6 months). The ultimate decision on the length of repayment will be for the local authority to decide and should be outlined in their relevant contract. If an enforcement company insist on immediate payment only in order to avoid an 'enforcement visit' (and a minimum fee of £235 being applied) debtors should consider making a formal complaint to the creditor. Vulnerable debtors Further protection of vulnerable debtors has been provided by the exemption from seizure of a vehicle displaying a disabled badge and most importantly, under Regulation 6 it specifically provides that the ‘enforcement stage fee’ (£235) and ‘sale stage fee’ (of £110) is not recoverable unless the enforement agents has, ‘before proceeding to remove goods’ (taken into control) given the debtor an ‘adequate opportunity’ to get assistance and advice’. Further details on how this will work in practice will follow. Most importantly, the enforcement agent will not know whether the debtor is ‘vulnerable’ unless he is advised of this at a very early stage. Communication with the local authority or enforcement company is vital. Times of day when an Enforcment Agent may visit: From 6th April an Enforcement Agent is permitted to visit your property seven days a week (including Sunday’s) between 6.00 a.m. and 9.00 p.m. He is not permitted to visit on Bank Holidays and Christmas Day. Tools of the Trade: Under the new regulations more protection has been given to debtors of items that will be exempt from seizure. These are as follows: Items or equipment (for example, tools, books, telephones, computer equipment and vehicles) which are necessary for use personally by the debtor in the debtor’s employment, business, trade, profession, study or education, except that in any case the aggregate value of the items or equipment to which this exemption is applied shall not exceed £1,350; Clothes, beds, bedding, furniture, household equipment, items and provisions as are reasonably required to satisfy the basic domestic needs of the debtor and every member of the debtor’s household. Cooker or microwave, fridge, washing machine, dining table and dining chairs to seat the debtor and every member of the debtor’s household. Land line telephone, or a mobile phone Medical equipment and items needed for the care of a child or elderly person. Safety and security equipment, eg. burglar alarms, locks and CCTV system Sufficient lighting and heating facilities. Domestic pets and guide dogs Any vehicle displaying a valid disabled person’s badge, British Medical Association badge or other health emergency badge. Note: It remains to be seen in practice how enforcement agents will 'interpret' the wording regarding goods (most particulary; vehicles) 'used personally in the debtor's employment, business, trade, profession, study or education' and the 'exemption' from seizure of those items valued at less than £1,350. In the coming weeks more information will be forthcoming.
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