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Advice needed - bailiff called for debt I believed was paid.

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Hi there,

 

I moved house on 26th March this year. A baliff called to my new house in early July looking for payment of a debt I didn't even recognise. He had been redirected by new owners of my previous house. He levied on a car that was not mine and left.

 

I queried the debt with the High Court Enforcement people - discovered what it was about, and confirmed to them that I had paid this debt on 26th March - date i moved out of my old house.

 

Heard nothing - so assumed all was ok.

 

Yesterday - on returning from the school run, had a letter to say the happy chappy had been around again. And will be back in 5 days to collect stuff whether I'm here or not!

 

So called up again - explained the situation and the lady says that the debt had not been paid. So I investigated. Sorry this is a bit of a long post.

 

I owed a bill for legal fees for a government department which was to be paid to the law firm 1. The order to pay the costs was made on 04/02/2010. I sent a cheque to the law firm on March 26th, the day I sold my house, as I then had the funds to pay them.

 

However, on 23rd March the government department appointed a new firm of solicitors, Firm 2. Firm 1 have never written or emailed me to notify me of this change after 23rd March - so I did not know about the change when I sent the cheque to them on 26th March. The cheque was made payable to Firm 1.

 

My file was transferred to Firm 2 - including the cheque. Firm 2 could not cash a cheque payable to Firm 1. Apparently Firm 2 wrote to my old address in early April ( I of course no longer lived there) telling me they had been appointed.

 

So in summary - I paid a debt owed in good faith on 26th March to the wrong firm of solicitors. I now have a baliff chasing me for the debt. I am happy to pay the original amount owed - but am not happy to pay the £800 the baliff has racked up in charges.

 

What should I do?

 

My plan is to write a letter explaining the situation to High court enforcement limited enclosing a cheque for the original amount.

 

 

However, my worry is, they never correspond with me. They have never replied to any letter or email I have sent. The only way they communicate is to send the muppet around to collect the debt. I do not want that man turning up again at my door, and I do not want him removing that car from the road which he has no authority to do - or indeed breaking into my house, which is what he appears to be threatening in his letter to me. And I certainly do not want to pay the additional £800 which I don't believe I should owe.

 

Many thanks

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Who has actually instructed the HCO to collect the money ?


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Please consider making a donation, however small, if you have benefited from advice on the forums

 

 

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My advice is based on my opinion and experience only. It is not to be taken as legal advice - if you are unsure you should seek professional help.

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There are no solcitors fees due from you unless the Governmen Department has obtained a court order. if they obtained one without considering a defence then look at having the order set aside.

 

Rather odd a govt dept is applying for solicitors fees, they normally need to be prescribed and usually always use in-house solicitors. If the fees are too high, consider having them taxed by the law Society.

 

I wouldnt take too much notice of these £800 HCEO fees, they always do that, its a fees [problem] they do.

 

You might want to put in a complaint against the government dept with the parliamentary Ombudsman for causing you a financuial loss when it may not have been your fault.

 

I wouldnt worry about the bailiff interering with someone elses car, its the bailiffs problem when he is nicked for possession of a stolen motor vehicle.


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I have no idea who instructed them - I assume it must be the law firm, or alternatively the secretary of state for trade and industry.

 

I have not seen any court order instructing the HCE limited. Should there be one?

 

THere is a court order initially for the fees owed to the law firm, which I have no problem with.

 

The problem I have is i believed I paid this debt, in good faith, but because of an administrative error, the cheque is made payable the wrong law firm, through no fault of mine.

 

Should I just sent the fee to the law firm to which I was suppossed to pay and cut the HCE out of the loop?

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Yes you can try.

 

My question is, why did the law firm not try to contact you first before applying to transfer up to HCE. Prepare to put in a complaint to the Law Society for causing you a loss.


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We can argue until the cows come home as to who is at fault here, but it doesn't stop the HCEO taking further action.

 

In the morning you need to apply for a Stay of Execution on the grounds you believe you have paid this debt and the Claimants are giving you the run around. This is applied for on Form N244 from the HMCS website and you should complete and print out extra copies, take it in person to your local County Court, explain the urgency and hopefully they will find a "spare" Judge who will hear your application and grant the Stay pending determination of your payment.

 

If granted inform the HCEO Company by email & post and when you receive your paperwork send them copies. The Stay halts all further enforcement action and charges and gives you time to sort this out. Don't be fobbed off by the "you have to pay the charges" - if you can prove you paid before the HCEO was employed then that is your Claimants problem.

 

PT


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Forgot to say there is a cost involved but can't remember at present how much. If you qualify for fee reduction also fill in Form EX160 for Fee Remission.

 

PT


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But I don't even have a court order - so how can I apply for a stay of execution for something I don't have a court order for?

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i don't believe the law firm made any attempt to contact me as we have a redirection on the post which kicked in about 2 weeks after we left the property, and the new people in the house forwarded on anything that came through in the interim. I know that there is the potential for things to fall through the cracks but I imagine I should have been getting many letters, also presumably something from a court?

 

I have also emailed the HCE people on 2nd July, wrote on 5th July and wrote again on the 11th August - all letters and emails have gone unanswered. All I have had are two visits from Mr Smiley.

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But I don't even have a court order - so how can I apply for a stay of execution for something I don't have a court order for?

 

Did the HCEO who attended not leave you any paperwork - Form 55 perhaps?

 

PT


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Are you also saying you had no paperwork re the original CCJ? Did you acknowledge or mount a defence or counterclaim? Were you adjudged "guilty" and Judgment by Default awarded?

 

PT


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Forgot to say there is a cost involved but can't remember at present how much. If you qualify for fee reduction also fill in Form EX160 for Fee Remission.

 

PT

 

Thats an interesting point. Can HCEO fees be remitted if the debtor is on a low income?


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Thats an interesting point. Can HCEO fees be remitted if the debtor is on a low income?

 

I was referring to the Court Fees.

 

However it is little known that you can apply for a Stay of Execution if you can't afford the fees the HCEO charges, this can be made "absolute" at the Judges discretion but mainly it is for a period of time but that doesn't mean to say you can't reapply when the time is up. You also have to remember that the Writ is only valid for 1 year although it can be renewed, but if they are getting nowhere it will probably be returned to the Judgment Claimant.

 

PT


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I have a court order for the original fees to be paid to the law firm. My problem is I sent the cheque to law firm 1 - but 4 days earlier the matter changed to law firm 2, without my knowledge, and that's where the payment should have been sent, and the cheque made out to. That was back in March - I heard nothing until now, when a Bailiff turns up to take my belongings.

 

I have no issue with the original amount and am happy to write a cheque to the correct law firm now - but I don't want to pay the HCO charges as I believed I was paying the debt, they just neglected to tell me I needed to pay a different law firm.

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That is why I say apply for the Stay, you have the original Court Order and can use this number. If the HCEO has not left you his paperwork (Form 55) then he can't charge you his fees.

 

PT


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That is why I say apply for the Stay, you have the original Court Order and can use this number. If the HCEO has not left you his paperwork (Form 55) then he can't charge you his fees.

 

PT

 

Gotcha! Will check what paperwork I have then off down to the court tomorrow. Many thanks?

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I am about to transfer almost £900 in the morning (Monday) to HCEG for fees for a debt I have already paid in full.

 

The HCEO called on July 2nd - I had no idea what he was talking about as the debt had already been paid. He levied on a car on the road - despite asking me if I owned it. I told him I didn't. He simply posted the papers back through my door.

 

I have since sent off information showing proof of payment of the debt, and didn't hear anything, so assumed all was ok.

 

But the lovely man called again on Saturday morning demanding almost £900 - which must be paid by Monday morninig or he will return with 4 men and a truck.

 

My plan is to pay the fee, and fight it afterwards as I cannot risk my house being broken into or a car being removed off the road.

 

Any other suggestions?

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If you pay that money, you will probably lose it because you will have to go through a detailed assessment to reclaim it, and this procoss has proven to be unreliable for debtors who have paid high HCEO fees. Hang on to your money.

 

HCEOs cannot break into your house or nick your car, expecially if it is his fees alone.

 

If a HCEO is in dispute with you over his fees then he needs to sue you. He cant just turn up and enforce payment pretending he has a costs order made against you: See Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970 http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=All+Primary&PageNumber=1&NavFrom=2&parentActiveTextDocId=1663425&activetextdocid=1663463

 

You can challenge the fees easily enough because the law only provides 2.5% on the amount recovered plus his 'reasonable costs', but if he cannot show sales invoices for his costs then he is unable to show it is reasonable costs and you owe just the 2.5%. Cullighan v. Drakes Group.

 

If a bailiff falsifies his costs to obtain a money transfer then he commits an offence under the Fraud Act 2006. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/70420w0001.htm see under Crime Fraud

 

Cusiously, Unless there is a cost order showing the amount of costs you must pay, there is no legislation obligating you, the debtor to pay any High Court Enforcement fees. High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004.

 

Bailiffs cannot interfere with your goods or property in your absence. On 17 March 1998 Lord Justice Morritt in the High Court ruled that bailiffs having a Walking Possessions Agreement cannot remove anything whilst the debtor is absent unless it is pre-arranged by appointment and with an Order signed by a Judge. The Judge also said in his conclusion, (quote) However it should be noted that in cases such as these there may be a sanction pursuant to Section l of the Criminal Damage Act l97l. In other cases the provisions of Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act may apply also. (unquote). Khazanchi & Anor v Faircharm Investments Ltd & Ors [1998] EWCA Civ 471.


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Thank you for that helpful info Fork-it.

 

He has threatened that if I don't pay and he comes along tomorrow, the fees will double as he will have several men with him and a truck.

 

My husband just wants him to go away and that's why he wants the fees paid.

 

Should I get a lawyer in the morning?

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no stand by your guns

 

he cannot use the order to claim his fees

tell him to leave your property or you will call the police

 

its now a civil matter

 

dx


please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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I have phoned HCEG -they are going to email through a breakdown of their fees.

 

They say they do not need a costs order for the fees. Are they relying on the initial order to pay costs - so the order to pay the original debt - which is paid.

 

Do they need to apply to the court for a seperate order to charge their fees?

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Having just done battle over HCEO fees can I ask a few questions then I might be able to help.If you do not wish to discuss any of the questions below on open forum please send a pm.

 

What was the debt for?

how much was the debt?

was the debt subject to a CCJ?

did you pay the debt direct to the creditor?

did you pay the debt before the HCEO was involved?

 

 

WD

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He has threatened that if I don't pay and he comes along tomorrow, the fees will double as he will have several men with him and a truck.

 

He has cooked his own goose, the bailiff must be able to prove it is reasonable costs. The law does not provide for him to increase his fee to extort money from a debtor. Its a criminal offence under Section 21 of the Theft Act 1968.


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HI WD just sent you a PM. Thanks

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So, is he likely to turn up today, do you think?

 

Still no costs breakdown from them, but I guess they are in no hurry.

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