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Guest janensteve

If a Bailliff collecting Non-Domestic Council Tax (business Rates) sets off in the morning with a pile of warrants to enforce, how can he know that he is charging a van fee until AFTER he has spoken to the debtor and demanded the money.

 

And if in demanding the money, his opening words are "you owe xyz Council £950 and i am here to collect the money or goods to the value of" (no mention that it is £600+£350 Van Fee and Levy Fee) is that not a misrepresentation of the facts.

 

Surely he should say, "you owe £600+£24.50 First Visit. If you don't pay now, i will levy your goods and the costs will be ABC"

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A van fee cannot be applied UNLESS a bailiff has PREVIOUSLY levied upon goods.

With NNDR almost ALWAYS the bailiff co will charge excessive fees probable in the hope that a business would not notice !!

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Guest janensteve

precisely my point, and if the barsteward is claiming van fees in his opening words beforte one has even had the chance to get the cash out of ones back pocket, that is obtaining money by deception.

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In that case write to the police setting out your complaint under the fraud act and obtaining monies by deception and INSIST they investigate.


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In that case write to the police setting out your complaint under the fraud act and obtaining monies by deception and INSIST they investigate.

 

NO...this is NOT the correct route. It is ALWAYS the case that any complaint is put to the bailiff company first and in this case a copy of your letter need to be sent to the local authority who instructed the bailiff. The letter to the council must be marked FORMAL COMPLAINT and addressed to the COMPLAINTS DEPT.

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Guest janensteve

Please see below the code of Practie issued by leicester City Council.

Revenues & Benefits Service

Council Tax & Business Rates

Bailiff Code of Practice

June 2009

Contents

Page

1. Introduction

2. General

3. Caseload Administration – 14 Day pre-Bailiff Letters & Bailiff Instructions

4. Visiting Standards

5. Payment Arrangements & Payments Received

6. The Removal and Sale of Goods

7. Fees

8. Warrants

9. Disputes, Correspondence & Complaints

10. Vulnerable Customers

Appendix One – Goods Exempt from Distress

Council Tax & Business Rates Bailiff Code of Practice

1.0 Introduction

1.0 This code of conduct explains the requirements placed upon any bailiff company and its representatives, hereafter referred to as “the Agent”, contracted by Leicester City Council for the purpose of assisting in the collection of Council Tax and Business Rates due to the City Council through the use of a range of enforcement means.

1.1 Responsibility for administering the code lies with the Revenues and Benefits Service, hereafter referred to as “the Service”.

1.2 This code replaces all previous codes and working arrangements. Subsequent variations to the code that result from either legislative changes or improved working practices will be included in the document and recorded through a change control process.

1.3 Copies of this code must be freely available from the offices of both the Service and the Agent; it must also be available on the Service’s Internet site, and offered readily to any person who requests it.

2.0 General

2.1 At no point must the reputation of Leicester City Council be brought into question through the actions of any contracted Agent.

2.2 The Agent must comply at all times with the statutory provisions of The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992/613 (as amended), The Non Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989/1058 (as amended), and the Data Protection Act 1998. Any doubt over the interpretation of the law needs to be referred to the Service for reconsideration.

2.3 Bailiffs and all other employees of the Agent must adhere to the Lord Chancellor’s Department National Standards for Enforcement Agents issued in 2002, together with all relevant bailiff legislation.

2.4 The geographic scope for enforcement is anywhere in England and Wales.

2.5 Bailiffs must not state or infer Leicester City Council employs them; they are required to confirm they are acting on behalf of Leicester City Council. They must carry at all times full and proper photographic identification, issued and authorised by the agent, and produce this without being asked whenever attending a debtor’s property, and show it to any other person having reason to require it. Bailiffs must

also carry a copy of the Council’s authorisation to the agent to act on behalf of the Council, and be instructed to produce the document if requested to do so by any person having reason to require it.

2.6 The Agent’s employees will maintain an acceptable standard of dress consistent with the provision of a professional service. They must act in a lawful, dignified and courteous manner, being firm but fair at all times.

2.7 The Agent must not discriminate on any grounds including those of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation that is likely to make Leicester City Council liable or potentially liable to a claim, e.g. under the Race Relations Act 1976, the Sex Discrimination Act 1986 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

2.8 The Agent will ensure interpreter services are called upon whenever it is apparent the customer’s first language is not English or there are clear difficulties in understanding matters at issue.

2.9 Bailiffs and enforcement officers must possess a detailed knowledge of the Law of Distress and revenue collection procedures. Bailiffs levying distress on behalf of the Service must hold a current and valid certificate issued by the County Court, and ensure it remains in date at all times.

2.10 The Agent must ensure that its recruitment, selection and training purposes are suitably robust to ensure its employees are wholly capable of delivering the contracted service to the standards required

by the legislative and regulatory frameworks and the demands of this code of practice.

2.11 Where the actions of the agent are questioned, the Service will require a detailed written explanation of events to be supplied within five working days. Such responses may be forwarded to customers in demonstration of the transparent service delivered.

3.0 Caseload Administration – 14-Day pre-Bailiff Warning Letters & Bailiff Instructions

3.1 The Service will forward caseload to the Agent usually in an electronic XML file format, if necessary hard copy referrals will be made. The level of information contained in the files will be as agreed between the Service and the Agent, and wherever possible instructions will be uploaded automatically into the Agent’s computer systems.

3.2 Personal information transmitted between the Service and the Agent and vice versa is confidential. Data must be encrypted/password protected to ensure it cannot be obtained by an unauthorised source, and the use of all data must comply with the requirements of the 1998 Data Protection Act.

3.3 Where either the Service or the Agent retains data on its computer system for access by either party, the data must be kept under secure conditions to prevent its access by an unauthorised source.

3.4 Caseload allocated to the Agent will consist either of accounts for processing as 14-day letter stage, or accounts where bailiff action is the required course of action. The Service will ensure caseload is clearly identified as to which enforcement route is required. Suitable checks must be undertaken to ensure the number and value of the cases exported balance when imported into the Agent’s systems.

3.5 The 14-day caseload will require the Agent to issue pre-bailiff action warning notices, the content of which must have been agreed in advance with the Service, and administer all subsequent customer contact in response to the documents. Statistical information must be provided to the Service in respect of the caseload that includes detail on the number of phone calls and value of payments received.

3.6 Accounts the Agent administers through 14-day stage where full payment is not obtained may be progressed thereafter as bailiff cases without prior referral to the Service. Bailiff only cases do not require the issue of a pre-bailiff action warning notice, as the Service will have undertaken this action.

3.7 Caseload allocated to the Agent must be uploaded and monitored via the Agent’s client web, which must be kept up to date to ensure reliable data can be viewed at all times. The Agent needs to ensure the Service has constant access to its client web throughout office hours, and provide sufficient training to ensure the Service can interpret accurately the progress of its caseload at all times. Full and unambiguous notation needs to be available on the client web to document the administration of any

case passed to the Agent.

3.8 The Service reserves the right to recall any case referred to the Agent. In such circumstances the Agent will cease its action immediately.

4.0 Visiting Standards

4.1 Normal hours to make visits between are 8:00 am and 6:00 pm; these times can be extended to between 6:00 am and 9:00pm without prior approval from the Service, and may also include Saturdays within these time limits. The hours of business of a commercial organisation like a nightclub may also warrant visits outside of the above stated hours. The Agent needs to be mindful that during extended visiting hours and Saturdays the Service is unlikely to have officers available to assist with any enquiries.

No visits must be made on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

4.2 Arrangements may be made between the Agent and Service to vary or reduce visiting arrangements at certain seasonal times like Christmas and New Year. Bailiffs will be respectful of the religion and culture of others, and be aware of the dates for religious festivals and carefully consider the appropriateness of undertaking enforcement on any day of religious or cultural observance, or during any major religious or cultural festival.

4.3 A minimum of three visits must be made to make contact, one of which needs to be made within the extended time range. The bailiff may revisit on the same day for the purposes of either levying distress or removing goods if there is good reason, based on investigations made, to believe the customer will be in during the subsequent visit.

4.4 Bailiffs will make themselves available by mobile phone during their working hours and have appropriate messages on voicemail to assist customers.

4.5 Caseload referred initially for 14-day bailiff warning letter administration may be subject to first call bailiff action without delay once the warning period has passed and where no contact was received. Where a payment arrangement was agreed but not maintained, the first call visit may be made once payment is three working days overdue, without the need for a payment reminder letter to be sent. Caseload referred for immediate bailiff action must have the first visit made within seven days of the

instruction being received.

4.6 The Agent will agree the templates for standard documentation with the Service, and ensure that all notices and other documents left with, or sent to customers are on pre-printed stationery, unambiguous and clear in their content, comply with all relevant regulations, and meet plain English standards.

4.7 Reasonable checks need to be made to ensure bailiffs visit the correct address, and they must have access to accurate details concerning each customer’s case. If during their visit it is apparent to the bailiff that the customer has moved address, discreet enquiries need to be made with the current / new occupier to establish a forwarding address without revealing the nature of the visit to such third parties.

The information gathered including details about the new occupier(s) need to be confirmed on the Agent’s client web and referred to the Service without delay.

4.8 In the event of a visit resulting in no contact with the customer, notification must be left in a sealed envelope addressed to the customer marked private and confidential. The notification must confirm the bailiff’s contact details, the date and exact time the visit was made, and detail the balance outstanding including any fees incurred. Documentation must only be posted through the property’s letterbox; if there

is no such point of delivery the bailiff needs to take advice from the Service.

4.9 The bailiff should seek to establish the identity of all persons present, and must ensure that where discussing debts they are dealing with the customer and/or their agreed representative. If the bailiff experiences difficulties in communication due to a language barrier, advice should be obtained from the Service, which may be able to offer a translation service.

4.10 Entry must not be attempted if the only people at the property are understood to be under the age of eighteen. In such circumstances the procedure detailed at 4.8 above needs to be followed. Entry must be peaceful and bailiffs must under no circumstances seek to gain physical access to a property by use of deception.

4.11 The customer’s privacy needs to be respected at all times. No conversations concerning a debt should occur in a public area, and wherever possible, customers should be interviewed in private unless they wish other persons to be present.

4.12 Bailiffs must maintain a calm and professional manner at all times, irrespective of whether they are subject to provocation in the course of fulfilling their duties. Physical confrontation must be avoided at all costs, and if the customer becomes violent or the bailiff fears for their personal safety they should seek to withdraw and report the incident to the police, their line manager and the Service.

5.0 Payment Arrangements & Payments Received

5.1 The bailiff’s initial contact with a debtor will be with the intention of levying distress and seeking immediate and full payment of the debt. Where this is unrealistic a payment arrangement should be established, which the Agent must monitor. Arrangements must be confirmed in writing, and give a clear explanation of the total amount due, the repayment amounts and due dates, and the consequences of it not being maintained. The Agent has the discretion to issue a maximum of one payment arrangement reminder letter, which will require the arrangement to be brought up to date within five working days and maintained thereafter. At all stages of the distress process, apart from where the removal of goods has started, customers are to be encouraged to make a payment arrangement within the agreed guidelines as the Service would wish to avoid the removal of goods unless absolutely necessary.

5.2 Council Tax debts ideally need to be cleared within the financial year they are referred to assist in year collection wherever appropriate, however this may be impractical dependent on when in a year a case is referred, what the amount outstanding is, and what the customer’s circumstances are. Therefore repayment periods of up to one year may be offered at the Agent’s discretion, and arrangements

exceeding this period must be referred to the Service for agreement. Where a customer offers a payment arrangement that appears to be beyond their means, the bailiff has a responsibility to advise the customer accordingly.

5.3 As with Council Tax referrals, there is a similar Business Rates need to collect the amount due within the year it is referred. For Business Rates the first visit may be an enforcement van call, and if full payment is not made at that time the preferred time frame is for payment within one month, with the possibility of allowing up to six months at the bailiff’s discretion if the customer’s circumstances merit such an extension. Arrangements longer than six months need to be approved by the Service.

5.4 In the event of the bailiff not receiving full payment on their first contact, which includes their statutory attendance fee, any payment arrangement ideally needs to be secured by a signed Walking Possession Agreement. The agreement must specify any goods on the premises, which could be removed, and the bailiff must make it clear to customers that no goods will be removed if payments are received in

accordance with the arrangement. Bailiffs should take reasonable steps to ensure that the value of the levy goods is proportional to the debt outstanding. Care must be taken to ensure the goods are not already subject to a levy by a third party. If the customer refuses to sign the agreement, this must be noted on the document. Payment arrangements may be made where it is possible there are insufficient goods to cover the debt as the levy may act as an incentive to the customer to ensure payment. There may be occasions where no goods are available on which to levy such as where a property is rented fully furnished, or where a levy occurs in the customer’s absence such as when a vehicle is parked on a drive or where the contact is with a spouse or parent.

5.5 The bailiff must seek to obtain employer details and financial circumstances when negotiating any payment arrangement, which will be shared with the Service. If it is established the customer receives Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee (PCG) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), the bailiff needs to obtain their National Insurance number and date of birth, and should make a payment arrangement equivalent to benefit deduction levels (£3.25 per week from April 2009) unless it is apparent there are good distrainable effects that would help discharge the debt quicker. In the event of the arrangement failing, the case should be returned to the Service, which will set up a formal deduction with the DWP.

5.6 If the customer works but their income is only equivalent to Income Support, Jobseekers, PCG or ESA levels, and the bailiff is shown evidence to this effect, an arrangement needs to be made that is equivalent to the deductions usually secured through attachments to these benefits, which is £3.25 per week from April 2009.

5.7 If the bailiff considers the customer’s circumstances are such that they may be eligible for some form of benefit but have not applied, the bailiff should advise the customer to apply.

5.8 There will be occasions when the Service will direct the Agent to accept an arrangement and require the Agent to monitor its payment thereafter.

5.9 Official, numbered company receipts must be given in all instances where payment is received in person by a bailiff. The receipt must state the date and the exact amount received the method of payment, and confirmation of any balance outstanding. The bailiff must advise the customer to keep all receipts in the event that they are required to verify payment.

5.10 Where the Agent receives payment by post, a receipt will only be required if the debtor provides a pre-paid self-addressed envelope for this purpose.

5.11 Postal payments received by the Agent prior to the start of a bailiff visit that clear a debt in full must be accepted by the Agent as final settlement without the additional bailiff fees being added.

5.12 Where the removal of goods is imminent the Service will not endorse payment by a non-guaranteed method like cheque; cash is the favoured option.

5.13 Any online payment functionality offered by the Agent must include the facility for customers to obtain a receipt for any payment made.

5.14 The scale of charges the Agent applies to payment by certain methods like debit or credit card will be agreed with the Service in advance of its application and displayed clearly to customers.

5.15 The Service will notify the Agent of payments made directly to the Council, ideally on a daily basis.

5.16 There may be occasions where the Service refers an additional liability order to the Agent, who has an existing arrangement with the customer. In such instances the Agent will visit to make the necessary levy. However it is at the Agents discretion (dependent on the timing of the additional referral, how much the referral is for, and how much remains to be paid on the original case), as to whether a separate

payment arrangement is set up for the new debt or if its payment is scheduled to begin when the existing one ends.

5.17 For Council Tax and Business Rates, if there are sufficient goods and the debtor refuses to make an arrangement, a notice of removal must be left confirming that if neither payment in full (including bailiff fees) nor an acceptable payment arrangement is made within five working days, the bailiff will revisit with the intention of removing goods from the sixth day onwards.

5.18 For Business Rates where the removal of goods may result in the business’s closure, or job losses, the bailiff must contact the Service for guidance before action proceeds.

5.19 If the customer is unable to make a reasonable payment offer, or has insufficient goods or refuses legal access, the Agent will return the case to the Service with a full report of the circumstances duly certified “nulla bonna” so further enforcement action may be considered.

6.0 The Removal and Sale of Goods

6.1 The Agent may remove goods with a view to their sale if a suitable payment arrangement is neither made nor maintained with a customer who owns sufficient goods duly identified which, when sold, would discharge a minimum of 50% of one case and the related fees. No removal must be attempted unless there has been prior contact with the customer and all other legal requirements have been fulfilled.

6.2 The Agent must only remove goods in accordance with prescribed regulations and codes of practice (appendix one), and never knowingly any items which form part of an existing levy by a third party.

6.3 The Agent needs to notify the Service of any intended forced entry to any part of the premises for the purpose of removing goods where walking possession has been secured previously. If the action is agreed, a police officer must be advised of the intention to force entry, and the premises must be secured before departure.

6.4 The Agent may make the Service aware of its intention to remove goods if it considers such action to be prudent.

6.5 All goods removed need to be listed on an inventory that also details any obvious defects to the items, a copy of which must be left with the customer. Additionally the customer must be provided with written confirmation of the total balance outstanding, including bailiff fees, and notification of the intention to commence sale proceedings if payment in full is not received within a further five working days. If the customer is not present, the authorised possession notice and associated documentation needs to be left in a prominent place within the premises for their attention in a sealed envelope marked private and confidential. Time and date-stamped photographs should be taken of the goods removed to indicate their condition and reduce the possibility of a subsequent claim for damages, where considered appropriate.

6.6 The Agent or contractors acting under their supervision must ensure that the removal, transportation and storage of goods occur with due care and attention; the items taken into possession must be covered by an adequate insurance policy.

6.7 Where a vehicle is seized a report must be completed detailing its condition prior to removal. Any third party used to remove the vehicle and the customer (if present) must countersign the report. If the customer is present and refuses to sign, the document should be noted to this effect.

6.8 The cost of transporting goods to the place of sale and the auction costs must be kept to a minimum. Reputable auction facilities must be used to ensure the sale is properly publicised with a view to encouraging as many potential buyers as possible to assist in securing the best price for the goods. A reserve should be placed on any goods of high value, which is defined as any single item with an estimated value of £500 or more for Council Tax and £1,000 or more for Business Rates. A specialist

sales room should be engaged for the sale of any particularly high value and specialised items like jewellery and antiques.

6.9 The Agent must advise the customer where the goods will be stored, which must be a reasonably accessible location, and the anticipated date and place of auction. The customer must be given an opportunity to redeem their goods by paying in full prior to the auction.

6.10 The Agent must provide the Service with confirmation of the amount realised through the auction.

7.0 Fees

7.1 Fees must be levied in accordance with the schedules laid down by statute. Where “reasonable fees and expenses” apply, the Agent will agree the scale of charges with the Service, and provide a month’s notice of any intended changes to these amounts. A full and comprehensive breakdown of fees must be provided to the customer or Service within five working days of their request.

7.2 The Service will inform the Agent of any instances where it is considered fees have been added incorrectly or inappropriately. In any such instance where the customer has paid such fees, the Agent will refund these without delay.

7.3 Fees must not be added for a future action, although clear information about potential charges that may be incurred for subsequent late or non-payment should be included on documents.

7.4 All fees incurred must be clearly stated in a legible manner on documentation provided to customers, with no reference to phrases like “ring for balance”. There may be occasions like where the removal of goods occurs where it is initially impractical to be able to confirm the fees level. Any inappropriate application of fees or alteration of pre-printed stationery identified by the Service will be referred to the Agent, who will be expected to apply their disciplinary code to any of its staff identified as having been

involved in such practices.

7.5 Where the Agent administers more than one liability order for a customer, fees must be calculated on the aggregate balance of all, not individual, orders.

7.6 Enforcement/van charges must only be added once where goods are not removed unless removal has commenced and goods are returned due to payment.

7.7 Bailiff levy fees must be calculated on the amount outstanding at the time of the levy rather than the original amount referred.

7.8 Any percentage fees will be rounded to the nearest pound.

8.0 Warrants

8.1 Following the issue of a committal summons and its subsequent approval by the magistrates, the Service will issue a contact letter to customers confirming that unless they pay in full or make an arrangement within seven days, bail warrant or warrant of arrest (no bail) enforcement will proceed.

8.2 Cases will be issued to the Agent thereafter, and action to execute the warrants must begin within a maximum of 28 days.

8.3 The Service will confirm to the Agent the dates, times and limit on numbers of persons that can attend Court as agreed with the magistrates for scheduled committal hearings where “no bail” warrants

can be executed; the Service will also confirm to the Agent the dates on which the Court have agreed to accept customers arrested under bail conditions.

8.4 When executing a bail warrant the Agent’s enforcement officer must, unless payment in full including fees is received, arrest and bail the customer to appear before the magistrates on a date agreed with both the Service and the Court. Payment may be by cash, cheque or debit/credit card and in the event of a cheque payment funds must have cleared by the surrender date.

8.5 When executing bail warrants the Agent’s enforcement officer must explain to the customer the reason for their arrest, full details of the charge outstanding, the type of warrant being executed, the time, date and place of the committal hearing the customer has been bailed to attend, and the consequences of non-attendance. Documentation must also be left with the customer that clearly confirms these details.

8.6 The Agent must notify the Service of the full details of the bail warrants executed no later than three working days before the hearing.

8.7 If the customer refuses to sign a bail warrant the Agent’s enforcement officer must return the warrant

to the Authority, which will return to the Court and apply for a “no bail” warrant instead.

8.8 When executing “no bail” warrants the Agent’s enforcement officer must, unless payment in full including fees is received, arrest and escort the customer to the Court, informing the Service without delay of their actions, who in turn will notify the Court that the customer is being brought in. Payment may be by cash or debit/credit card. In the event of card payment not being honoured further action may continue to execute the warrant.

8.9 When executing “no bail” warrants the Agent’s enforcement officer should, where possible, inform another member of the customer’s household that an arrest has been made.

8.10 The Agent shall, wherever possible, provide a female enforcement officer to either execute or assist in the execution of a “no bail” warrant whenever the customer is a female, and provide a male enforcement officer where the customer is a male.

8.11 “No bail” warrants must not be executed where it is apparent that such action would result in children being left unsupervised in a property.

8.12 Where it becomes apparent to the Agent’s enforcement officer that the customer is in receipt of Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee or Employment Support Allowance, the warrant does not need to be returned to the Service. The customer should still surrender to the warrant with a view to the Magistrates undertaking a full means enquiry, resolving to either remit/direct for attachment as appropriate.

8.13 The Agent must return bail and “no bail” warrants as soon as it is apparent that they are unenforceable, or within a maximum of six months, whichever is the soonest, unless the Service gives approval to extend this time frame. It is recognised that access to Magistrates’ Court time may require the six month time frame to be extended regularly. Cases need to be returned with a full report that details the actions undertaken.

9.0 Disputes, Correspondence & Complaints

9.1 In the event of the customer disputing aspects of their liability or payment history the Agent may contact the Service for clarification on the nature of the charge outstanding and payments received, and how to proceed.

9.2 The Agent will answer all correspondence from customers within 5 working days of it being received, wherever possible, supplying copies of such to the Service for its own records where considered appropriate.

9.2 The Agent will administer an internal complaints procedure, which its representatives must be conversant with, and provide a monthly statement that summarises the complaints it has administered in respect of the Service’s customers, to include confirmation of the number of complaints that were or were not upheld.

9.3 The Service will investigate all complaints it receives relating to the actions of the Agent and its representatives, responding to the complainants in accordance with the Council’s complaints procedure and informing the Agent of its findings.

9.4 The Agent will provide the Service with a copy of its complaints procedure, and advise the Service of any subsequent amendments to the process within five working days of their occurrence.

9.5 The Service and Agent will share appropriate documentation to enable either party to administer its complaints caseload efficiently and to respond to customers fully within ten working days.

9.6 The Agent should make use of the complaints and disciplinary procedures of professional organisations like the Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies or the Enforcement Services Association.

9.7 Any matter which is found to involve serious misconduct or an unacceptable contravention of the code of practice may lead to termination of the Service’s agreement with the Agent unless the Agent satisfies the Service that the member of staff or bailiff whose misconduct or contravention is at issue has been properly dealt with through the Agent’s formal disciplinary processes.

9.8 The Agent must make available to customers and stakeholders details of their complaints procedure on request and publicise it in accessible places like its website and offices.

9.9 Facilities should be in place to ensure the complaints procedure is available by means accessible to disadvantaged customers like those with visual impairment or whose first language is not English.

10.0 Vulnerable Customers

10.1 Attempt should not be made to levy or remove goods from the following type of customers due to their vulnerability without prior reference to the Service:

Any elderly persons over the age of seventy-five.

Any elderly persons under seventy-five where it is apparent they are frail, confused, ill or having difficulty in dealing with their affairs.

Any severely disabled persons.

Any person considered being mentally impaired.

Any household where there has been bereavement within the last two weeks.

Any customer (or their partner) who is in the last two months of pregnancy.

Any customer (or household member) who is suffering from long term or serious illness.

Any single parent of children under the age of twelve in receipt of a means tested benefit or who is experiencing financial hardship.

Any property where the English language is not spoken read or understood in the household.

Any customers living on any of the subsistence level benefits: Income Support, Job Seekers

Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee or Employment Support Allowance, where the ongoing

debt is nil or the debt does not exceed £200.00, in which cases it is more appropriate for the

Service to administer the debt by the application of an attachment.

Appendix One – Goods Exempt from Distress

In the process of executing a Council Tax or Business Rates distress warrant the bailiff must exercise

caution, consulting with the Service for advice where there is doubt about removing certain goods.

The bailiff will not levy on the following items:

For Council Tax only, any tools, books, vehicles and other items of equipment necessary to the debtor for their personal use in the course of their trade, employment, profession or vocation. (Note – while a mini cab driver’s vehicle is a tool of their trade, a car used for commuting purposes is not).

Cooking and heating appliances where such items are not duplicated and where this would leave the customer and other household members with no means of preparing a hot meal and maintaining adequate heating within the premises.

Refrigerators where such items are not duplicated and, where this would leave the customer and other household members with no means of keeping food cold.

Food.

Bedding or household linen that would leave the customer and other household members without the basics required for domestic life.

Beds and chairs, where this would leave the premises without one bed and one chair for each occupant.

Children’s toys and items reasonably required for the welfare or upbringing of any dependent child who is a member of the household.

Medical aids or medical equipment reasonably required for the use of any member of the household.

Books or any articles reasonably required for the education or training of the customer or any member of their household not exceeding an aggregate value of £500.

Articles required for safety reasons in the property.

Items purchased through authorised loans and grants advanced from the Social Fund.

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I too have been caught with van fees, and it is important to have a huge amount of paperwork showing how the bailiff company has not been very helpful...I am in the process of issuing a form 4 complaint against 2....I did send an SAR to the bailiff company and basically got rubbish back....attempt to disguise fraud...I have a thread up here 'received SAR from bailiff company complete evasion'. I have taken TT's advice on board..I have been dealing with the recovery department but have today sent copies to the Chief Executive.

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Guest janensteve

i involved my councillor.

 

I am concerned that if a Baillif is making a charge for a future event and demanding the same, then perhaps the baillif would need to review all previous visits where such an occurance has occured.

 

I know this is a stupid notion, because they will waive the receipts in the air stating that the receipts confirm money not to be refunded.

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if they waive the reciepts in the air.....snatch them quick.....it supports your case not theirs in my opinion

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Guest janensteve

what is interesting is the veolution of the schedule in the legislation regards vand fees,

 

I say this because:-

 

1989

For making a visit to premises with a view to levying distress (whether the levy is made or not)

1993,1998 and 2003

For one attendance with a vehicle with a view to the removal of goods (where, following the levy, goods are not removed):

 

You will note the clear distinction that up to 1993 they could charge a van fee whether a levy was made or not. whereas after 1993, they can only charge a van fee with a view to the removal of goods where they levied and goods are not removed.

 

At the point of setting out on their journey to the debtor, it is known that a levy has not yet occurred and there is no evidence to suggest that a levy will occur. If the debtor stands outside his house with the amount of the tax in his hand by way of cash plus say £24.50 for a first visit. then that is the amount that can only be arrived at with certaincy and without ambiguity. No other figure can be reallistically arrived at at this point. so when the Bailiff demands a sum greater than that he is requesting/obtaining money by deception. He is committing an act of fraud. If, and only if the debt refuses to pay or is unable to pay, the baillif then has to decide what action to take next. He may withdraw (unlikely) or he may proceed to make a levy. Once he has made a levy, he then has a legitimate expectation that he will attend with a view to to the removal of goods. So, he has set out on his journey already, if he chooses to conduct his day to day business in a van where he has made no previous contact witha debtor, i put it it to the theory that the van is not a reasonable charge as it is a normal trading expense. If he habitually drives around in a 4 seater car. i appreciate that he woudl have to return to the little hole that he crawled out of that morning and set about organising a van with a view to now removing goods (assuming debotr in default). It is only at this point that a van charge of any desription becomes a reasonabe charge. so reasonable charge should not only equate to the cost of the van, but also the reasonable application of requiring a van.

 

Baillifs will often say that they are attending on an "enforcement call". This is their excuse. Is there a legal definition of an enforcement call ?

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Guest janensteve

Please see thread

 

Bailiff Van Fees - Non-Domestic Rates

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Guest janensteve

Bailiff Van Fees – Non-Domestic Rates

 

Bailiffs will often say that they are attending on an "enforcement call". This is their excuse. I don’t believe that there is there a legal definition of an enforcement call within the Non-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations This is my considered opinion and I welcome your thoughts

 

 

SCHEDULE 3

 

 

CHARGES CONNECTED WITH DISTRESS

 

 

 

Under the Non-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989, A bailiff could “For making a visit to premises with a view to levying distress (whether the levy is made or not)” charge “Reasonable costs and fees incurred, but not exceeding an amount which, when aggregated with charges under this head for any previous visits made with a view to levying distress in relation to an amount in respect of which the liability order concerned was made, is not greater than the relevant amount calculated under paragraph 2(1) with respect to the visit”

2.—(1) In heads A and B of the Table to paragraph 1, "the relevant amount" with respect to a visit or a levy means-

(a) where the sum due at the time of the visit or of the levy (as the case may be) does not exceed £100, £12.50,

(b) where the sum due at the time of the visit or of the levy (as the case may be) exceeds that amount, 12½ per cent. on the first £100 of the sum due, 4 per cent. on the next £400, 2½ per cent. on the next £1,500, 1 per cent. on the next £8,000 and ¼ per cent. on any additional sum;

and the sum due at any time for these purposes means so much of the amount in respect of which the liability order concerned was made as is outstanding at the time.

 

(2) Where a charge has arisen under head B with respect to an amount, no further charge may be aggregated under heads A or B in respect of that amount.

 

So if the debt to the council was say £150, the maximum charge would have been £14.50

 

 

In 1993, the legislation changed by virtue of theNon-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Amendment and Miscellaneous Provision) Regulations 1993. A Bailiff could

For one attendance with a vehicle with a view to the removal of goods (where, following the levy, goods are not removed):” charge "Reasonable costs and fees incurred.” This was reaffirmed in 1998 and also 2003.

 

As you will observe, in 1989 the legislature restricted the amount that a Bailiff could charge by virtue of paragraph 2.(1), whereas in 1993, they traded off

“view to levying distress (whether the levy is made or not)”

with

“view to the removal of goods (where, following the levy, goods are not removed):”

 

Further more, under Non-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989, there is a clarification about what the legislature intended under the matter of distress, which is:-

Distress

14.—(1) Where a liability order has been made, the authority which applied for the order may levy the appropriate amount by distress and sale of the goods of the debtor against whom the order was made.

 

(2) The appropriate amount for the purposes of paragraph (1) is the aggregate of-

(a) an amount equal to any outstanding sum which is or forms part of the amount in respect of which the liability order was made, and

(b) a sum determined in accordance with Schedule 3 in respect of charges connected with the distress.

 

(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.

 

It is clear that the legislature intended that if a levy is about to be proceeded with, that by virtue of section 14 (3), that 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 categorically makes it clear that the bailiff cannot possibly have a legitimate expectation that he will attend with a view to levy until an opportunity for S14(3) has taken place.

 

Until S14(3) has occurred, and a levy has then sunsequently taken place which can be immediately hterafter on the same call, he simply cannot demand or charge For one attendance with a vehicle with a view to the removal of goods (where, following the levy, goods are not removed):”

 

At the point of the Bailiff setting out on his journey to the debtor, it is known that a levy has not yet occurred and there is no evidence to suggest that a levy will occur. If the debtor stands outside his house with the amount of the tax in his hand by way of cash plus say £24.50 for a first visit (assuming it is a 1st Visit) then that is the amount that can only be arrived at in advance with certainty and without ambiguity. No other amount can be realistically arrived at this point. So, in demanding a sum of money in his opening ambit which includes a Van Fee and levy etc, the Bailiff is in effect demanding charges for a future event, an event that has not yet occurred. Until such time as the debtor has elected not to pay the amount that is due at the point of contact. I.e. Tax plus 1st Visit Fee or 2nd Visit Fee as the case may be. (I am not saying that a 1st Visit or a 2nd Visit has to take place before a levy is made, a levy can be made on either visit or subsequent visit.)

 

So when the Bailiff demands a sum greater sum than he is entitled to at the point of his contact with the debtor. He is in effect, demanding money by deception, which is aggravated by his implication that a levy has already taken place. He is therefore committing an act of fraud by misrepresenting the amount due and is also in breach of the enforcement regulations and protocols

 

If, and only if, the debtor refuses to pay or is unable to pay at the point of the call with the Baillif, can the bailiff then decide what action to take next. He may withdraw (unlikely) or he may proceed to make a levy. Once he has made a levy, he then, at that point and not before, has a legitimate expectation that he will attend with a view to the removal of goods.

 

But, he has set out on his journey already, if he chooses to conduct his day to day business in a van, It seems to me that the van is not a reasonable charge unless the majority of calls results in removal as it is a normal trading expense. How else does he get about? On the other hand, should the Bailiff habitually drive around in a 4 door saloon car in the conduct of his business. I appreciate that he would have to return to his original point of departure that day and set about organising a van with a view to now removing goods because has levied a debtors goods. Of course he would then have to actually attend with his van to make the charge become appropriate. It is only at this point that a van charge of any description becomes a reasonable charge, as it should not only equate to the cost of the van, but also the reasonable application of requiring a van.

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A good explanation......I had a WP and levy..and the van charge/enforcement fee/attendance fee added too. As he had done a WP and said he would come back in 10 days...the extra fee was invalid as the WP represented a contract whereby no goods would be removed by either party..it is also reasonable payment for a 'service' and if that service is not rendered it is invalid?

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Guest janensteve

if you signed a WP on first physical contact, then i would have thought a van fee would apply on his next visit. The thing is, if you owed say £100 for the actual debt which you can pay there and then, but his opening ambit is to demand say £300 (£175.50 for fees for a levy/van etc all a future event), then you have been led into a misrepresentation and of course as you had only got £100, you are bound to agree to the WP.

 

You have therefore been induced into a position that favours the baillif. can you prove you had the full amount of the money plus £24.50 (assuming first visit) at the point of Levy ?

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There were two previous visits where I wasn't in. He appeared did the levy and asked me to sign the form, which was not explained. The total debt was for 1070 odd I gave him 334 there and then He then said he would come again in 10 days for the rest. I did ring him beforehand and told him I had the money..he appeared the second time in the same old red transit van he had come in the first time. This was the first physical contact I had with him. The van fees/eforcement fee/attendance fee/Sooty's dinner money ( whatever else they like to call it ) was added onto the form. I have found the bailiff xompany very evasive...they finally, and after the event supplied me with a pitiful one page following an SAR request..no breakdown of £165 van fee...did some research....hiring a van round here is about £50 for whole day..unlimited mileage ( I have started a thread over the SAR )

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Guest janensteve

hmmmmm,

so i presume you are seeking evidence of the 2 visits. once you signed the WP, i guess he can charge a van fee on his next visit.

 

crap aint it ..... still we fight on.

 

I am trying to get my local council to review their procedures and to get Bristow and suitor to return to their previous warrants. well why not !!!!

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hmmm indeed....well he charged the same day and on the same form for something which did not happen..( same date ).so I still think the 'van fee' is fraudulent...he was also informed on the telephone that the cash was there so there could be no expectation that he would have to remove goods.

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Guest janensteve

i agree with your assertion about his expectation about removing goods if you told him you had the cash. suppose its down to proof as always.

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yes...him not turning up with one to pick up the rest of the cash does help my arguement.....I would see the levy as a contract though....so no van fee then

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