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Guest janensteve

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.

Edited by janensteve
original version had typo's,

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