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URGENT HELP PLEASE re extra Bailiff fees on settled L/Order


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In a nutshell:-

  • Received liability order re council tax. Amount incorrect as a payment made to council before L/o issued.
  • Bailiff calls, not at home. He leaves notice of intent to levy distress with car registration on it.
  • Settled corrected balance direct to bailiffs via three cheques at approx 1 month intervals (without having agreed any payment arrangement, just sent cheques off). All cheques cleared OK.
  • Did not pay bailiffs fee as queried whether this should reduce as L/o amount incorrect. Query sent with final cheque.
  • No response from bailiffs to my query but one week later he leaves notice of intent to remove goods with further £100 charge added on top of his outstanding fee of £39.70.
  • Having complained now understand that fee was correct as based on amount of L/o regardless of any other sums paid, so will pay his original fee. Bailiffs did not give explanation of extra £100, just referred to their scale of charges, and demanding £139.70 by tomorrow (23 Feb).

QUESTION - As the amount on the Liability Order was settled, can the bailiff pursue me for fees on top of fees when they did not respond to my query? They state I have broken a payment arrangement but I did not enter into one. Rather than confirm initial fee was correct they just turned up and lumped another £100 on - is this legal? Do I just pay the £39.70 or do I have to pay the whole lot?

 

I no longer have the car they levied on (they can go to the scrapyard and put it back together if they want it!), now have a better one and am worried this will be at risk.

 

Advice please - many thanks.

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Settled corrected balance direct to bailiffs via three cheques at approx 1 month intervals (without having agreed any payment arrangement, just sent cheques off). All cheques cleared OK

 

The bailiffs will have pocketed any fees they considered owing to them and passed on what was left to the council.

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Did not pay bailiffs fee as queried whether this should reduce as L/o amount incorrect. Query sent with final cheque.

[*]No response from bailiffs to my query but one week later he leaves notice of intent to remove goods with further £100 charge added on top of his outstanding fee of £39.70.

 

You need to give a bit more detail, like, how many times the bailiff visited and what happened on each visit.

That way you can calculate the correct fees.

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Having complained now understand that fee was correct as based on amount of L/o regardless of any other sums paid, so will pay his original fee. Bailiffs did not give explanation of extra £100, just referred to their scale of charges, and demanding £139.70 by tomorrow (23 Feb).

 

See previous post

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I no longer have the car they levied on (they can go to the scrapyard and put it back together if they want it!), now have a better one and am worried this will be at risk.

 

That depends on whether you've satisfied the liability order yet.

 

 

But you have a bigger problem, when the bailiff levied, lawfully, upon your car, it ceased to be your car.

 

You disposed of the bailiffs property, so I'd get evidence of its miniscule value and be prepared for the bailiff's next move.

 

I'd park any vehicle well away from your house.

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Chris600 UK - I have paid the amount on the Magistrates Liability order (£480). The issue concerns the bailiff fee. Just to clarify the questions asked:

  • I have had two visits from the bailiff. I was not at home either time. The first was when he left me a 'Notice of Intention to Levy Distress', and ticked the box saying he had 'attempted to seize the goods specified in the inventory below' and had entered my car registration. The car was not roadworthy as I had registered a statutory off-road notice with the DVLA whilst deciding what to do with it (no tax, insurance or MOT). His notice was for £480 plus £39.70 fees. £480 subsequently paid as per my earlier post. So Liability order satisfied but not bailiff fee as I had queried it.
  • Second visit was about seven days after my final payment and query about their fee, to which they had not responded. The document is headed 'Attendance to Remove Goods' and demanding £139.70. This is when I complained about their not responding but adding £100. The notice has the standard wording about failing to respond to previous notice/not honouring payment arrangements. As stated I did not make any payment arrangement with them, just sent cheques approx one month apart which they accepted.

For both visits, I was not at home. Their written response to my complaint does not say why they did not respond to my query, or how the additional £100 on top of £39.70 is calculated.

 

I will send them £39.70 - it is the additional £100 I am wondering whether they can demand when only their fee is outstanding. I have read elsewhere that as I have satisfied the amount of the Liability Order they cannot levy for additional fees - this is what I am trying to confirm.

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Extracted from Council Tax (enforcement and administration) Regulations 1992 Act

Distress

45.—(3) If, before any goods are seized, the appropriate amount (including charges arising up to the time of the payment or tender) is paid or tendered to the authority, the authority shall accept the amount and the levy shall not be proceeded with.

 

This means the Liability Order must be satisfied BEFORE any levy takes place, and the sum paid directly to the council, because bailiffs will remove fees from any sum paid to them.

That will mean if you paid that sum to the bailiff, then the liability order will not have been satisfied.

 

 

(4) Where an authority has seized goods of the debtor in pursuance of the distress, but before sale of those goods the appropriate amount (including charges arising up to the time of the payment or tender) is paid or tendered to the authority, the authority shall accept the amount, the sale shall not be proceeded with and the goods shall be made available for collection by the debtor.

 

 

Once a levy has been made then to satisfy the liability order you must pay the council AND the bailiffs lawful fees up to that point.

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You need confirmation from the council that the liability order has been settled as it depends on the remittance arrangements - the bailiff may be allowed to take their fees first or 50/50 which would mean it has not been settled in full yet

 

This is not correct. With council tax the bailiff deducts his fees BEFORE paying anything to the council. That is also why it is not correct to say that a bailiff has to issue County Court proceedings for the recovery of his fees because his fees are deducted FIRST and the shortfall will be against the Liability Order which will still have an amount outstanding.

 

You need to request immediately a breakdown of the fees and charges.

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What I somehow need to clarify is whether the £100 was lawfully applied, accepting of course there is a difference between what is legally right as opposed to ethically. As I had queried the fee (which was by way of a post-it attached to my last cheque and which they acknowledge they received), which was not a refusal to pay, and they did not clarify but added another £100, do I have grounds for a complaint to the council?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Originally Posted by pink_eeyore viewpost.gif

You need confirmation from the council that the liability order has been settled as it depends on the remittance arrangements - the bailiff may be allowed to take their fees first or 50/50 which would mean it has not been settled in full yet

This is not correct. With council tax the bailiff deducts his fees BEFORE paying anything to the council. That is also why it is not correct to say that a bailiff has to issue County Court proceedings for the recovery of his fees because his fees are deducted FIRST and the shortfall will be against the Liability Order which will still have an amount outstanding.

 

You need to request immediately a breakdown of the fees and charges.

 

I know for a fact that this is not incorrect and that each Bailiff/LA contract is set up differently. There is no way of you knowing what the remittance set up is without asking the council

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Just to update. With much assistance from someone on this forum I fired off the following complaint letter to the bailiffs ten days ago:

 

I refer to your letter dated 18th February 2009 which attempted to explain why your bailiff came to my property on 17th February to remove my vehicle. At the time of this visit the balance outstanding was £39.70 and a charge of £100 was made for this visit

 

I find it absolutely shocking that you have confirmed in writing that the purpose of this visit was to remove my car.

 

In the first instance the vehicle that your bailiff levied upon was worthless and had neither tax, insurance or MOT and had been SORN registered with DVLA.

 

You will be aware that with my payment of £75 dated 7th February I had included with it a note to question the outstanding fee balance and this note was not to complain at the fee, merely to clarify the amount due. Your company should simply have provided a response to me and instead I believe that your bailiff was looking at a way of gaining additional van visit fees at my expense, which is a disgrace bearing in mind the current recession.

 

I wish to advise your firm that I am divorced and work part time and have a large mortgage to support and I will simply not tolerate a bailiff who is representing a local authority to be able to charge a fee such as this when at the time of the visit the onus was on your firm to confirm the amount outstanding by me.

 

Finally, can you please confirm the amount of the Liability Order passed to your company. This is important. In addition, I require a full breakdown as the local authority have advised me that they are now showing a balance of £114.70 in their books which is very confusing.

 

I enclosing a cheque of £39.70 which I believe is the amount due to your company to settle this matter.

I shall also be forwarding a copy of this letter to the Council.

 

To date I have not heard anything from the bailiffs! I shall now be writing a complaint letter to the Council.

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Just so you know:

 

The bailiff collecting council tax arrears is actually supposed to collect the tax first and then take fees, but they never do, they always take their fees first.

 

That's because until they have levied lawfully, they have no way of enforcing the fees apart from the small claims court.

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