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    • threads merged  please keep to one thread per issue.   dx  
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When our small business folded, unbeknown to us there was a small (£110) balance remaining on Business Rates - the Council concerned obtained a Summary Warrant against us in a batch list (i.e. not an individual Ordinary Cause or Summary Cause action) - again unbeknown to us the Council had an incorrect address, hence we didn't get to hear about it until recently.

 

When Sheriff officers recently served a Charge for Payment of Money order, they hand-wrote Sheriff Officers fees of £106-10. We have immediately settled the debt of £110 (which is not disputed), but queried the fees, the amount levied being the current Ordinary Cause fees. We have paid the Summary Cause fees of £67-30 (which we believe to be correct in this case), but the remaining £38-80 is in dispute. We have contacted the Society of Messengers at Arms and asked them to investigate, and the response back is that whilst it was a Summary Warrant, this should not be confused with Summary Cause vs. Ordinary cause, and that the action was an Ordinary Cause action.

 

My understanding is that an Ordinary Cause action would be an individual action, not a job list, would have an individual court reference number (which dispite asking for, no one can apparently provide), and would be listed in Stubbs Gazette. The local Sheriff Court where the Summary Warrant was raised have helpfully searched both individual Ordinary Cause AND Summary Cause judgements, and can find no trace. We could be quite wrong in this respect, but all the evidence we can find so far points to over-charging of Sheriff Officer fees.

 

I would be interested to here from other members who may have been in similar circumstances. We may be incorrect in our assertion here, but if not, from what we have seen this may be a fairly wide-spread over-charging practice.

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Guest Happy Contrails
but all the evidence we can find so far points to over-charging of Sheriff Officer fees.

 

The Sheriff Officer commits an offence under Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. You can file a claim in the Small Claims Track (check to see if this applies to Scotland) More: https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/csmco/index.jsp and you have a right to make a criminal complaint to Police. The Sheriff will probably be interviewed under caution and his DNA will go on Police records. You should give the Sheriff Officer an opportunity to refund you the unlawful fees before throwing the book. Send this by post and by email

 

The HCEO Office

Their Address 1

Their Address 2

Their Address 3

Postcode

 

BY POST AND BY EMAIL

 

DATE

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Re: [YOUR NAME + REF]: Your fees.

 

I write following visits by your Sheriff Officer, however looking at your documents and seeking advice there appears to an irregularity with your fees. I now ask you to provide the following within seven (7) days:

 

1) Written confirmation of your fees

 

2) Written confirmation of the original debt

 

3) The name and address of the organisation that instructed you

 

4) Truthfully confirm in writing that your fees are lawful and comply with legislation or b) refund me the unlawful fees plus reasonable compensation for being cheated by your Sheriff Officer with his fees by midday the seventh day from the date of this letter.

 

A person who dishonestly charges for work that has not been done will be committing an offence under the Fraud Act 2006. Section 2 of the Act specifically describes a person dishonestly makes a false representation and intends, by making the representation, to make a gain for himself or another, or cause a loss to another, or expose another to a risk of loss. If no satisfactory refund is made to me by 12.00 midday seven (7) days from the date of this letter I will automatically make a criminal complaint to Police under the 2006 Fraud Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act. If you have charged VAT on unlawful fees then you may be reported for VAT fraud and your documents will be given in evidence.

 

This letter is delivered by Royal Mail and deem it good service by the ordinary course of post under Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978. It is now is your responsibility and in your best interests this letter is handed to the relevant person within your organisation.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

YOUR NAME

 

Send this to local Police:

 

The Chief Constable

Name of Police Authority

Address 1

Address 2

Address 3

Postcode

 

DATE

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Re: Reporting a crime committed under the Fraud Act 2006

 

I enclose a document given to me by a man saying he is a Sheriff Offcier and is charging me fees of £AMOUNT when legislation says the maximum fee is £AMOUNT.

 

I write to you understanding the Sheriff Officer commits an offence under the 2006 Fraud Act. A bailiff or any other person who dishonestly charges for work that has not been done will be committing an offence under the Fraud Act 2006. Section 1 of the 2006 Act contains the new general offence of fraud.

 

Section 1 means by which this offence can be committed is set out in Section 2, on fraud by false representation. This section applies where a person dishonestly makes a false representation and intends, by making the representation, to make a gain for himself or another, or cause a loss to another, or expose another to a risk of loss. It is also possible that, where a bailiff repeatedly charges for work that has not been done, this conduct will amount to fraudulent trading either under Section 9 of the 2006 Act or under the provisions on fraudulent trading in company legislation.

 

I take this opportunity to bring to your attention to Lord Lucas sitting at the House of Lords on 20 April 2007 when he asked HM Government whether it would be right for the police to claim that such an action is a civil and not a criminal matter. The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal) replied with, inter-alia (quote) A bailiff or any other person who dishonestly charges for work that has not been done will be committing an offence under the Fraud Act 2006(unquote).

 

Please assign a crime reference number and I ask the police this crime is investigated professionally and objectively and I am happy to help you in your enquiries and stand as a prosecution witness at trial.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

 

YOUR NAME

Enc: copy of document

 

If the council is still trying to claim money from you then get the debt back into council administration. This is a generic English law template so modify as needed.

 

Council Tax (Enforcements) Department

Invincible Borough Council

Address 1

Address 2

Address 3

Postcode

 

[DATE]

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Re: [YOUR NAME & ANY REF]: Visit by your bailiff on [DATE]

 

I have had an opportunity to seek advice and I write on the understanding that case law has ruled an authority is liable for its bailiffs.

 

On [DATE] I was visited by your bailiff collecting unpaid council tax. We were unable to reach an amicable resolve and the bailiff showed threatening behaviour and became defensive and vexatious in nature. He made unrealistic demands of money which are way beyond my means and has been caught cheating with his fees by charging unlawful amounts contrary to regulations.

 

I now ask the Council to:

 

a) Take the case back from the bailiff.

b) Accept my original offer to pay £[AMOUNT] a week to clear the arrears

c) Pay me a reasonable compensation for my inconvenience and for my efforts in seeking discovery of information and

d) Receiving an over-zealous bailiff acting for you making unrealistic demands of money and defrauding me with his fees.

 

If you fail to satisfactorily complete the above I will automatically escalate the complaint to the local government ombudsman in fourteen days from the date of this letter. Please treat this letter as Stage 1.

 

Due to my circumstances I am unable to pay the debt as demanded by the bailiffs and I will make payment of £[AMOUNT] each month for [NUMBER OF] monthly installments with a final installment of £[AMOUNT]. This may seem a long time but it's all I can afford and allows me to pay future liabilities without falling into arrears. I confirm I am not refusing to pay this debt.

 

This letter is delivered by Royal Mail and deem properly served on you by the ordinary course of post under Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978. It is now your responsibility and in your own interests this letter is handed to the relevant person within your organisation.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

[NAME]

Enc 1st payment.

 

Then watch the fun start...

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When our small business folded, unbeknown to us there was a small (£110) balance remaining on Business Rates - the Council concerned obtained a Summary Warrant against us in a batch list (i.e. not an individual Ordinary Cause or Summary Cause action) - again unbeknown to us the Council had an incorrect address, hence we didn't get to hear about it until recently.

 

When Sheriff officers recently served a Charge for Payment of Money order, they hand-wrote Sheriff Officers fees of £106-10. We have immediately settled the debt of £110 (which is not disputed), but queried the fees, the amount levied being the current Ordinary Cause fees. We have paid the Summary Cause fees of £67-30 (which we believe to be correct in this case), but the remaining £38-80 is in dispute. We have contacted the Society of Messengers at Arms and asked them to investigate, and the response back is that whilst it was a Summary Warrant, this should not be confused with Summary Cause vs. Ordinary cause, and that the action was an Ordinary Cause action.

 

My understanding is that an Ordinary Cause action would be an individual action, not a job list, would have an individual court reference number (which dispite asking for, no one can apparently provide), and would be listed in Stubbs Gazette. The local Sheriff Court where the Summary Warrant was raised have helpfully searched both individual Ordinary Cause AND Summary Cause judgements, and can find no trace. We could be quite wrong in this respect, but all the evidence we can find so far points to over-charging of Sheriff Officer fees.

 

I would be interested to here from other members who may have been in similar circumstances. We may be incorrect in our assertion here, but if not, from what we have seen this may be a fairly wide-spread over-charging practice.

 

 

 

This is clearly a case issued by the local council in Scotland and the rules regarding bailiffs ( in scotland: Sheriffs) are so very different. However what you have explained is in widespread and common in the UK and Wales as well.

In the UK the bailiff (sheriff) is under a legal obligation to provide a breakdown of fees under a Subject Access Request. If this is available to you, I would strongly advise this route.

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Guest Happy Contrails

Hi TT, I would like to make a comment on SAR's. The Data protection Act is all about personal data. Getting a fee-breakdown is not defined as personal data under the Act. Its an old bailiffs gag to hide behind the Data protection Act to deter a potential claim for unlawful fees and bank a £10 cheque.

 

Legislation can already says what a bailiff or Sheriff can charge and a simple letter requesting a refund is sufficient.

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Enormous Thanks to Happy Contrails et. al. for the wealth of good information. We now have a resolution on this issue, thanks in part to helpful staff at the local Sheriff's court (we have found them to be very approachable and helpful :)!). In this case, it appears the fee IS correct. Chasing up a suggestion from them, we eventually found an explanatory clause to the Act of Sederunt covering fees, at:

 

Act of Sederunt (Fees of Sheriff Officers) (No. 2) 2002 No. 567

Act of Sederunt (Fees of Sheriff Officers) (No. 2) 2002 No. 567

(google "SSI 2002/567")

 

This contains, under "General Regulations" the following clause:

15. The fees payable to a sheriff officer in respect of recovery of rates, charges or taxes by

summary warrant shall be calculated in accordance with the fees specified in the Table of Fees for

ordinary causes.

So, in this case, the fee IS calculated correctly, and we will remit the remainder.

To contribute something back, here is a brief synopsis of what we have found, so others can check they are not being overcharged.

TYPES OF CASES: there seem to be four main classes of cases in Scotland Sheriff Courts:

  • Ordinary Cause
  • Summary Cause
  • Small Claims
  • Sheriff Warrant

Ordinary, Summary and Small Claims are all individual cases, and can be readily located in searches by the Courts, and we believe are all defendable. Sheriff Warrant is most frequently a single case comprising a "batch" of actions countersigned by a Sheriff, and the courts may not be readily able to locate from your details. We believe in general a Sheriff Warrant is not defendable, and as in our case you may receive no prior notification.

Ordinary cause is a "full" procedure, generally over about £5000 (currently), and your details will be listed in Stubbs Gazette, almost certainly will affect credit records. Summary cause is an abreviated procedure, generally won't appear in Stubbs Gazette but may still affect credit records. There is always the option open to the pursuer for amounts under the threshold to still be pursued under Ordinary Cause. The Sheriff Court concerned will be able to confirm very quickly which one it is. I believe in both costs can be awarded.

Small Claims I have had less chance to look at, it may be similar to English Small Claims, and tends not to have costs awarded. Sheriff Warrants generally are not defendable (the Sheriff will normally sign if the details and evidence appear to be correct). However, the individual names on items are not normally listed, and the court may have difficulty locating from your details. It is unlikely to appear on credit records unless by some action of the persuer. However, Sheriff Officer fees are allowed to be charged, and specifically for items classed as "Taxation", including most Council actions the full "Ordinary Cause" costs are specified, not the reduced "Summary Cause" costs.

To check Sheriff Officer fees, first determine the type of case, remembering for fees purposes most Council-initiated Sheriff Warrants WILL count as "Ordinary Cause". Then find the most recent table of fees allowed.

It changes usually at least once a year - google "Act of Sederunt (Fees of Sheriff Officers)" - the one you need will usually have last years date on it, coming into effect usually during January of the following year. It can be tricky to read these, as they are usually updates upon updates, but the main fees table is usually published in full (but without the explanatory notes). The main fees table is six columns, grouped into two groups of three, usually labelled "Column A" and "Column B" - Column A is for a Summary Cause judgement and Column B is Ordinary Cause.

Within each group are three bands of distance - the distance concerned is generally "as the crow flies" distance from the nearest Sheriff Officer's business address, Band 3 for instance is 18 miles and above, and NOT the particular distance travelled by the officer who turns up. I believe special permission from the Court is needed to vary this. If necessary, get a breakdon of the fee, and check each listed item CAREFULLY - generally fees can only be charged for items the Sheriff Officer successfully executed, not tried and failed.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks, Happy Contrails, like you I am not particularly clued up on Scots Law, having moved to Scotland six years ago, but I seem to be learning a lot very quickly.:confused:

 

I've taken a look at the 2007 ammendment you suggested, and it is confusing - however, if you take a look at Ammendment of Fees, section 2, para 3:

 

(3) In general regulation 15, for “in the Table of Fees for ordinary causes” substitute “column B of the Table of Fees”.

 

Column B is the Ordinary Cause fees (in fact, it used to be labelled explicitely "Ordinary Cause", but got changed to avoid even more confusion???, I think!).

 

General Regulation 15, in the 2002 Act (No. 2 update) is the one which reads:

15. The fees payable to a sheriff officer in respect of recovery of rates, charges or taxes by

summary warrant shall be calculated in accordance with the fees specified in the Table of Fees for

ordinary causes.

So, unfortunately in this case, I think it is still the higher Ordinary Cause fees that apply.

In researching this, there are a couple of key principles that have emerged for us:

  • "Taxation", and this covers much debts with local Councils, generally carries a greater emphasis in Scots law, and you need to look at particularly carefully.


  • It is also important to understand which of the types of case yours is, be it Ordinary Cause, Summary Cause, Small Claims or Sheriffs Warrant/Summary Warrant. Note that there is NO connection between Summary Warrant and Summary Cause. A Summary Warrant is (I beleive) the same as a Sheriff's warrant.


If your case is either Ordinary Cause or Summary Cause, the court can quickly check for you, and I suspect the same is true of Small Claims. A "Sheriffs Warrant" or "Summary Warrant" they would find difficult to verify without a Case reference number.

Perversely, if the Council had raised a Summary Cause action against us (involving them more cost and complication), the addressing mistake would have been found earlier, and even if it had gotten to the point of paying Sheriff's officer fees, these would have been significantly LOWER.

On the one hand, a Sheriff Summary Warrant can be issued against you without you necessarily being notified and there is almost no opportunity to defend/challenge, on the other hand you have to recognise the special treatment in Scots law of debts of "Taxation", in which case it makes kinda sense if you bear this principle in mind.

Interestingly, there is a HM Revenue manual "Debt Management and Banking Manual" detailing precisely how HMRC should proceed - there are plenty of checks in this manual, so if they are following it, mistakes ought to be rare. I suspect Local Councils have something similar, if not use this one directly. If you suspect e.g. a council HAS not correctly followed procedure, it might be a good starting point to walk through to find procedural errors. It looks as though this might have been part-released under a Freedom of Information request, find it at:

debt Management and Banking Manual: Introduction: Main Contents

 

Anyway, Happy Contrails, continue to do the good digging and sharing, the more actual info we get, hopefully the better Government we'll eventually receive.:lol:

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There is something not right, something niggling me.

 

non domestic rates are normally collected in the same manner as Council Tax.

 

With CT they can only add 10% of the balance to cover the sheriff officer fees when a summary warrant is granted but some regions may differ.

 

yest cannot find a definate answer if non Dom rates are to be recovered the same way. but will akeep ascouting

 

ida x


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found it:

 

this is for falkirk council but should be across the board, (might help if i know what council you are under:

 

http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/services/finance/revenues/forms_and_leaflets/PDFs/non-domestic_rates/collection_policy.pdf

 

 

can only charge 10% of the due balance so you should have only paid £11

 

ida x


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Thanks Ida,

 

Have gotton hold of the policy document - the council in this case is Highland Council. The charge concerned is Sheriff Officer fees for serving Charge for Payment, I have clarified that the Ordinary Cause scale of fees for Sheriff Oficers SHOULD be used (the higher fee), this Charge for Payment is a follow-on from the original Sheriff Warrant. I note, though, that this policy document contains the following:

 

5.1 The Council will seek to recover from the debtor all court expenses and Sheriff

Officer’s fees necessary and reasonably incurred in the raising of court action against

them, subject to approval of the court. The amount of court expenses and Sheriff

Officer’s fees are fixed by statute and charges will be recovered where appropriate.

 

Yes, they have levied the 10% surcharge, and if Highlands policy is similar, they CAN also charge any subsequent Sheriff Officer fees as determined by scale charges. To me, it does look as though they ARE entitled to do this (unfortunately, in our case). In fact, the section above seems to imply they can also try to recover the original Sheriff Warrant fees for the original action, which they havn't (but they might have to go back to the court on this one).

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i wasn't aware of that but as you say it's in the original policy then they are covered

 

ida x


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Thanks for posting those letters up there Contrails - V. helpful and on checking out the Fraud act, and various others, the **** balliffs are actually commiting more offences than just under the fraud act.....

 

just can't work out how the hell no authority is not clamping down on them?

 

It must be the only profession that can allow theft of money. (apart from solicitors and accountants of course! (but at least they dont hold a gun to your head)

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