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The thing that troubles me most with these exuberant charges is the way they seem to dwarf bailiff fees for any other type of debt.

 

If I'm not mistaken, if the debt was for council tax: 1 letter and 1 visit would be limited to about £70 of fees... how they can justify having the fees set at amounts which will [imo] almost always be larger than the original debt is beyond me.

 

As Baron says, if somebody can't pay the fine in the first place then there is not much chance they will be able to pay such excessive fees on top of that amount - and all at once.

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Bailiff fees for Magistrates court distress warrants: November 2006

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dca.gov.uk/rights/dca/inforeleased/ir061124.pdf

 

I know this from 2006 and the fees have increased but the interesting part of this document is the attendance fee is charged per defaulter not per visit

 

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Bailiff fees for Magistrates court distress warrants: November 2006

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dca.gov.uk/rights/dca/inforeleased/ir061124.pdf

 

I know this from 2006 and the fees have increased but the interesting part of this document is the attendance fee is charged per defaulter not per visit

 

 

I think that the bailiffs are attempting to charge a fee for each visit in many of these cases

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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What really infuriates me is Marstons attitude that I have to pay the whole thing right now. I would gladly pay the original fine to HMCS, but the law seems to sanction this kind of daylight robbery.

 

The more I think about this, the more incensed I get - its less about punishing people for wrongdoing, and more about making money off the backs of people who can ill afford it in the first place.

 

This kind of business should not be put with the private sector, where making a profit is the main concern. Thankfully, I'm not some old lady or other kind of easy pushover. I think I frightened the Marstons bailiff off when he showed me the charges - I managed to go from 0 - Full Rant Mode in about 0.01 seconds :-x

 

Anyhow, it would appear that there is no way round this issue .

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I'll speak to the court again tomorrow and get them to send a more detailed breakdown setting out any limit on the fees and the amount of times an attendance fee can be applied.

 

Up to now Marstons have added two attendance fees (£200 per visit) - three letter writing fees (£75 each) (£625 fees in total) and I am expecting another visit tomorrow.

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I have spoken to someone who worked in government from 1992 to about 2000 and not subject to OSA, but I must emphasise this is all hearsay and I dont have any links to the source.

 

The Lord Chancellors department received a complaint from HM Prison service that Magistrates were sending too many yobbos who were not paying their fines and asked for a solution to reduce taxpayer burden.

 

Warrant officers attached to magistrates courts were responsible for service process and collecting unpaid fines, but their work didn't deal with the problem of serial non-payers because procedure returns the case to court and an arrest warrant issued.

 

A few options were considered, namely to contract out enforcement to bailiffs similar to decriminalised traffic offences. Those regulations set out statutory bailiff's fees and fixed penalties are not means tested.

 

Defendants receiving criminal fines were commonly on benefits and therefore their (non motoring) fines and prosecution costs orders were generally minimal, because these are means tested.

 

Fixing a statutory scale of enforcement fees prescribing a Fees Order for unpaid means-tested fines contradicted means testing.

 

Ordering £275 in costs for recovering an unpaid £45 public order fine from a defendant who is on jobseekers allowance contradicted the statutory poverty threshold. Only the maximum £5 a weeks could be deducted from benefits.

 

The alterative is contractor asks the defendant to pay the fess (which are set in a contract between court and contractor), and if the defendant agrees to pay it then the bailiff gets his £275.

 

If the defendant declined to pay – for which he is allowed – then he is only liable for paying the fine and nothing else. The bailiff deducts his fee from the amount collected.

 

If a defendant has paid bailiffs fees on a court fine in the last six years, he can reclaim them if the bailiffs mislead the defendant he was liable to pay he fee, or indicate payment of his fee is a statutory obligation or said a court order had been made against the defendant. See section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970 and Section 2 of the Limitation Act 1980.

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Lord Lucas raised a PQ in the House of Lords.

 

If you have the connections, then asking Lord Lucas to ask PQ on the legal position on defendants liabilities to pay enforcement fees on court fines without having a means tested costs order.

 

Until that is cleared up, I think its best you refrain from giving advice that could mislead defendants they are liable to pay enforcement fees.

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Bartok, in that case bailiffs are in the words of Mr Plod Being Very naughty Indeed, as fixed penalties are therefore a complete breach of the principles of fair and equal treatment, as they are not means-tested. Marstons by their attempts to load charges against debtors on low income could therefore be in breach of Human Rights legislation somewhere, along with allegations of fraudulent behaviour if the contract they have does not actually permit collecting fees from debtors, who will insist they will only pay the fine.

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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The explanation that you have provided is very interesting indeed. As I have said in post number 42, either you, Happy Contrails or Fork-It have been "claiming" for the past 2 years that there is no legal basis on which a debtor should pay the admin fee of £75 or the visit fee of £200 when being visited by a bailiff enforcing an unpaid MAGISTRATES COURT FINE. Until today, neither of you have provided the REASON WHY they are not liable for paying these fees.

 

Given the importance of this matter, it could well be that a question can be raised in the House of Lords....HOWEVER, the House is now in recess and PQ's would be most difficult until the House resumes in October.

 

However, I will certainly look into this myself.

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Finally managed to get through to HMCS payments.

 

I've been informed that once it goes over to Marston's, HMCS place an 'inhibit' (their term) on the account, preventing any payment of the fine, preventing any circumventing of Marstons. If I send money or payment by post, it will be returned. This is done on all distress warrants on magistrates fines.

 

I suspect if I pay Marstons the £150 fine ammount they will use that purely as a payment towards their fees, leaving the original fine unpaid.

 

I think that the only reason they have'nt given us more grief is that we live in a farm in the middle of nowhere.

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However, I will certainly look into this myself.

 

 

Thats easy enough done:

 

Just ask Lord Lucas: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/peer/lord_lucas

 

 

Send a Question:

 

 

 

Dear Lord Lucas,

 

Unpaid magistrates court fines and prosecution costs that are means tested and not a statutory fixed penalty, are enforced by private certificated bailiffs, or Enforcement Officers working for a company under a contract with HMCS.

 

Bailiffs, or Enforcement Officers, increase the amount the Defendant owes by charging "fees" without having obtained for a Costs Order, and while there are no regulations setting a statutory scale of enforcement fees payable by the Defendant.

 

Can you tell me:

 

1. (a) Is the Defendant liable to pay the Officers fees? And, (b) under what legislation sets the scale of statutory fees payable to the Officer by the Defendant?

 

2. If the Defendant is not liable and the Officer misleads the Defendant either (a) he is liable, or (b) a costs order has been made against the Defendant to pay the Officers fees then:-

 

Does the Officer commit an offence under Sections 1-5 of the Fraud Act 2006 and/or Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970?

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

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Then you can pay the bailiffs fees, and if it is later discovered the fees are avoidable (no legislation/court order/contract), then claim on the solicitors Professional Indemity policy for giving wrong advice. The solicitors insurance company then recovers it from the bailiff.

 

Its up to you what you do.

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Bartok, i have written to lord lucas requesting some information regarding Data protection Act and bailiffs regarding an unfortunate interaction with jacobs, and have added your question in my own words also. We will see what develops, and will post up the meat in any reply

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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What was your question regarding data protection act?

 

If bailiffs approach a random person near premises they are visiting, approach randomer and in the process of asking if the randomer is the debtor, give debtors name address and other details to random person. Also if they do the same to someone in a parked vehicle who is on the phone, and likewise disclose debtor detals and start insisting on ID or they will clamp the vehicle, is there an offence committed by the bailiff?

 

Bailiffs seem to be a little free and easy regarding their assumptions about property and vehicles near a debtors property. My concern is they clamp an innocent bystander or someone else's car who is absolutely nothing to do with the debtor or the address, and the innocent party then has difficulty getting the clamp removed.

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Are you sure that you have been charged £200 TWICE. I have not seen this happen before.

I'm certain.

 

I Spoke to the court today and they said that they will charge for every visit, and told me she would send me a "detailed letter" explaining.

 

I have also written to Marstons for a full breakdown of their charges.

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