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indistress

Help - Havent been paying my water bill and Bailiffs came to my door.

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Hi

 

I need some help on this one. I have not been paying my water bill for quite sometime and it completely slipped my mind. I have recently had a baby, I was made redundant and my husband left me. Bailiffs went to my property the other day and handed my brother a letter, asking me to call them or I will go to prison for 14 days. I called following day, and the Bailiff advised me he needed to go to the property and give me some court papers. I advised I did not have an convenient time till few weeks time, because of work which he was understanding about.

I was wondering what the court papers will actually be, and will I need to appear to court (which I dont want to do).

 

I am really worried about this, I have been waiting for a letter from Northumbrian Water to tell me in how much I owe, so I could make arrangements and have had no bill/letter for over a 12 months. And all the upheavel in my life it has completely slipped my mind. Are Bailiffs reasonable, I am worrying myself sick, as I have 2 kids.

 

Any help and advice would be appreciated.

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It would not have been a bailiff who only become involved after a court order has been obtained by the water company and you have not paid. Bailiffs would not be serving court papers.

 

He will be a water company collection agent and he is very naughty to have said you could go to prison for 14 days. These days nobody goes to prison for civil debt. He was using the threat of court action to frighten you into paying up. It is just possible that he is genuinely going to serve court papers and if this happens post again.

 

But why will they take you to court? If you are in a postion to pay or make an arrangement to pay it is far better for them to accept this than go to court which will cost them. In fact if you cannot pay what they ask it is better for you to go to court so that the judge can assess your financial position before making an order simply because you will only be expected to pay what you can afford.

 

Courts at this level particularly if you self defend are very informal. You your opponent and the judge (in civvies) sit around a table and basically discuss the problem with the judge looking after the law.

 

Write to Northumbrian water again enclosing a copy of your letter (if you have one). Tell the truth as in your post and ask for an urgent reply. Send the letter recorded delivery. Do not discuss this further on the phone with anybody. If the agent calls again say nothing more than you have written to the company and are awating a reply.

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Letter definetly come from Bailiffs, headed paper for Newcastle courts. And the number is actually the Bailliffs office number, and I also have a warrant number :(

 

So I explain my situation to the Bailliffs?

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This is how the letter was:

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Northumbrian Water Vs me

 

I attended your property today with a view to serving upon you important court documents; unfortunately you were not at home. In order I may conclude this matter I should be most grateful if you contact me by telephoning 0191******* to arrange a convenient time.

 

FAILURE TO RESPOND TO THIS NOTICE MAY RESULT IN YOU BEING SENT TO PRISON FOR 14 DAYS.

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You should contact the Bailiffs or the Court asap. As far as I know Court Bailiffs only get involved after a Court case has been heard and a judgement has been made.

 

You need to ask them if a court order has been made. If so tell them that you did not receive any notice of the court hearing and ask what should you do. You should have received paperwork from the Court for the hearing and for the judgement. However, the judgement papers may be what the Bailiff wishes to give you.

 

You state that you were waiting on a letter from Northumbrian Water re. how much you owed. What contact did you have with them? This may affect what you can do as Judges take a dim view of companies who take people to court when an account is in dispute or where the person has been trying to make an arrangement and has been ignored by the company. Obviously, if there has been a hearing then the judge has only heard their side and will have made a judgement based on their evidence alone.

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There is something very wrong here and we need full information.

 

If you had no communication from the court then phone the court and find out was has happened. Be particular that the court papers are in your name and not your husband's name. (same initials?).

 

How long has the account been outstanding?

 

What communication has there been from Northumbrian to you.

 

How much was the last bill?

 

Was it addressed to you? Was it in your name?

 

I presume that you are still living in the matrimonial home?

 

When did your husband leave ?

 

Have you or the Royal Mail been readdressing mail in your husband's name? Has he been receiving court and Northumbrian communications and ignored them?

 

Do not let bailiffs into your home !

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The last letter I actually recieved from any correspondance from water company was from an solicitor. Dont even think I have that letter anymore. That was beggining of 2008, I have had no contact since. Not even court papers. The bill is under my name so my husband would not of recieved it.

My husband left me in Jan this year.

 

What will the CCJ be, does anybody have an idea. I will not be able to get papers for another few weeks from Bailiffs unless they allow me to pick them up from their office.

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You can get CCJ papers from the court, phone them up and explain to them that you didn't receive the originals and now want to have a set aside. Once you explain your circumstances the water company should cease all bailiff collection attempts as you are clearly vulnerable.

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All the CCJ will show is that Northumbrian Water have won the case and there will be an order for all that they have asked for i.e it will be a default order. Unless you can get this set aside you will have to pay the whole amount.

 

You now tell us that the last thing you heard about the water matter was a letter from a solicitor way back in the beginning of 2008. Are you absolutely sure that there has been nothing else and that you have not been burying your head in the sand.

 

Phone the court and get them to send you all the papers. Do not rely on the bailiff who is not on your side.

 

My suggestion that the bills, court papers etc were in his name was to attempt to explain why YOU had not received any communication from the court and Northumbrian. You say thet all bills have been in your name so that explanation falls flat. So what explanation do you have? - it is unlikely that Northumbrian has been using an incorrect address - the bailiff had no difficulty in finding you. There would have beeen a lot of communications and I cannot see that the Royal Mail could have lost it all.

 

This is very important because if you go for a set aside it will be on the grounds that you did not receive the court papers and there must be a good explanation for that state of affairs otherwise the judge will not believe you.

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Im not disputing in paying the amount, I know I need to pay it. When I get home I will go through my papers but I dont think I have recieved any information. I know the bill was due to be paid and was looking at getting the money together or make installments.

Will the courts accept monthly payments or maybe get the money taken out of my wages.

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You may be able to go back to the court to get an order so that you can pay what you can afford.

 

But first you must sort the paperwork. You have not yet said what you owe. You should at least be able to estimate the amount.

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Even if there was a prior court order that you failed to attend a further notice is often sent with a re-arranged date. I know as it happened to me, If the person instructed hand delivers this to the wrong person they can get into trouble so giving it to your brother is not good enough. In my case I no longer lived at the address where the first notice was served.

 

It does all sound like a bit odd really, I def would stick to your guns, if you have sent a letter to the Water company asking how much you owe and to contact you in regards to a suitable repayment plan I would not worry about a thing until you receive a reply, If they take you to court simply turn up with your coopy letter you sent them and the receipt from the post office showing you sent it.

 

I know it's hard I've had loads of dealings with people chasing for debt and these letters and so on really scare but have a good nose on this forum and get informed of what and what is not legal and you will be fine, No one is going to come into your house and take goods and no one is going to prison ( they got no room anyway lol). Sleep easy this forum is fantastic and will be your new best friend

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Thanks for all the help Guys.

I havent got a clue what I owe. Yes I have been burying my head in the sand. I know it is the wrong thing to do.

Will try and get all the information I have together, and write a letter to Northumbrian Water.

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I wouldn't go for a set aside at all, I would defend the whole amount (as I have done recently and they have now 'discontinued' the case). This was with a different water board but basically I used the following in my defence

 

1. Listed the times I had called them and what happened

2. Explain your personal circumstances (which in your case have been 'extreme'

3. Offer a repayment proposal you can maintain as part of the defence

 

I was told my defence wasn't a 'defence in law' by their legal team (Morrissons Solicitors) and they backed down and offered a repayment plan which if IIdidn't pay up would allow them to go to court to enforce it - which they could not as I (and you most definately are) are classed as VULNERABLE.

 

You could apply to have the water board's charity pay some or all of the bill as you have had a lot of personal problems.

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