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Hi all,

 

I'm helping out a friend here.

 

He tells me that a bailiff has inflated his bill by putting a levy on a car at the property,

The thing is the car belongs to someone else, I'm not sure who as yet, it may be mine because I leave a car there while I'm abroad or it may belong to one of his three lodgers, either way it cannot be his.

 

Am I right in thinking the charge is a nonsense?

 

Then there is an attendance fee of 250 quid as well, I'm trying to make sense of it all but he is pretty inarticulate so I have told him to write them a letter to let me deal with the matter.

 

From what I've read here so far there seems to be a fair few ways to scupper the fees.

 

Any advice welcome please.

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Thank you Ploddertom, read and (not quite) digested.

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Basically...if they have levied on a car that does not belong to the debtor then they have no legal claim to it. As to the charges you comment on, caggers will need a bit more info before they can reply to that, what is the debt the bailiff is trying to collect on Council Tax Court Fines utility etc etc? was your friend aware of the debt?

Did they receive notice of the Court hearing?

 

These questions getting an answer gives the bigger picture and you will then get plenty of advice from knowledgable caggers.

 

WD

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Basically...if they have levied on a car that does not belong to the debtor then they have no legal claim to it. As to the charges you comment on, caggers will need a bit more info before they can reply to that, what is the debt the bailiff is trying to collect on Council Tax Court Fines utility etc etc? was your friend aware of the debt?

Did they receive notice of the Court hearing?

 

These questions getting an answer gives the bigger picture and you will then get plenty of advice from knowledgable caggers.

 

WD

 

Bear with me, I'm still finding all the info for myself yet. I'll post it as I find out.

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If I get time over this bank holiday weekend, I intend to start a NEW STICKY with details of Local Government Ombudsman's reports. I have copy of one that makes it clear that if a levy is made upon a car and it is NOT owned by the debtor that the levy fee and all associated costs must be REMOVED. Furthermore, the LGO made it clear that in order to levy, the bailiff must firstly have GOOD REASON to believe that the vehicle is owned by the debtor and that this could be where the bailiff has WITNESSED the debtor driving in the car !!!

 

PS: The bailiff firm in this particular LGO report was Equita Ltd and the local authority is Rossendale Borough Council.

 

In the meantime, it would be wise to read a copy of the July Newsletter that I wrote for CAG:

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?315154-CAG-Newsletter.-Bailiff-tactics-!!!

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Thanks TT these reports clearly show that the bailiff companies and their employers are ignoring the rules, and are out of control, they use intimidation and fear of the direst consequences, to force a debtor to pay up, even to telling them to borrow money to pay them (that one is a HMRC speciality I am told) that is obnoxious at least.


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If I get time over this bank holiday weekend, I intend to start a NEW STICKY with details of Local Government Ombudsman's reports. I have copy of one that makes it clear that if a levy is made upon a car and it is NOT owned by the debtor that the levy fee and all associated costs must be REMOVED. !

 

That sounds as if it might be worth reading, in this particular case I'm still waiting to find out all the facts, I do not want to act precipitately and would prefer to be armed with all the real facts about the case. I have to admit that the stories I have read here have been an eye opener, I had no idea there was so much criminality going on in the name of the law.

 

Should I be advising my friend to make any payments direct to his council tax office rather than to this bailiff company? I'm still unclear about that.

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Yes your friend must show he is not trying to "avoid the debt...on line payments will be a good start.

 

WD

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I am still trying to chase down information on this matter, up till now I have not been able to verify the credentials of the particular bailiff involved nor the company he works for because of some sort of glitch at the 'Justice' site mentioned by Tomtubby.

 

The bailiff seems to be ignoring my request for a callback to ascertain what the charges are.

 

The local council have earned themselves a stiff complaint because, up till now, they do not respond to requests for information, even though my friend has instructed them that I speak for him. Mention of the S35 of the DPA brings a swift hanging up of the phone.

 

What I am actually trying to do is find out exactly how much the original liability order was for, nobody seems willing to part with the information, my friend has not got a clue, he simply says it was around £1400 but because he is so disorganised there are no letters or notifications for me to see. Once I have the exact figure I will add the £42.50 bailiff charges to it and see the remainder is paid.

 

The latest tactic I have been made aware of is that the bailiff has now said that he intends to enter the property and levy against any goods owned by the lodgers, laughable really, but my friend is very worried. Also there have been yet more charges added as a result of the conversation yesterday.

 

The bailiff has not been allowed to enter the property at any time so I presume that he cannot have made a 'walking possession' of anything yet.

 

Is it allowable to post the bailiff name here? or even wise? I do understand they are likely to be reading these post themselves and I don't want to compromise anything.

 

what is the debt the bailif is trying to collect on Council Tax Court Fines utility etc etc? was your friend aware of the debt?

Did they receive notice of the Court hearing?

 

I did not answer that last month because I did not have the information at the time.

It is a CT debt, he must have been aware of the debt, I don't know if he received notice of the court hearing. I have to assume notice was sent because he is so disorganised that it would almost certainly have been consigned to a pile of 'official' looking mail. My wife and I go through that occasionally to find out what's needed to do to keep him solvent.

 

You may have gathered that my friend is rather vulnerable, he is border line autistic in certain respects, he cannot distinguish between the important matters that must be dealt with at the time and those that can wait a while. He does have a very strong work ethic but is only now (he is 31) starting to earn what we would consider to be a proper wage. Unfortunately none of this shows in his normal life so he gets no special dispensation for not understanding the social and financial rights and wrongs.

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It would appear he is potentially vulnerable under the National Association of Enforcement Agencies guidelines 2002, You should try to help your friend have his vulnerable status recognised, and the council act accordingly by withdrawing the bailiff, who has obviously twigged You could compile a letter and get him to sign it, asking

 

1 how many Liability Orders there are

2 What Tax years are they for

3 How much are they for

4 When were they obtained

5 The date each one was passed on for enforcement

 

You could also get round DPA by phoning the council, and having your friend go through verification and then tell them to deal with you, you could also include a permission for you to act on their behalf in the letter, which should be handed in and signed for so they cannot deny receiving it

 

 

If the bailiff did carry out his threat and levy lodgers property, they would be advised to swear Stat Decs to claim ownership of their goods, to thwart him and remove the unlawful levy imho.

 

I'm sure others will be along soon


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Local Government Ombudsmanlink3.gif’s Report:

 

 

Local Authority: Rossendale Borough Council

 

 

Bailiff Company: Equita Ltd

 

 

Date: 15th December 2010

 

 

 

Approximately 25% of complaints to the Local Government Ombudsmanlink3.gif are resolved though a “local settlement”. This is where an “agreement” is reached between the LGO and the relevant Local Authority and nearly always, is on the basis that the local authority agrees to the recommendation of the Ombudsmanlink3.gif by agreeing to change the practice that had been the subject of the complaint to the LGO.

 

Although Local Settlements made by the LGO are not legally binding, it is important to be aware that according to the LGO, 99% of all “local settlements” are complied with in full.

 

 

For the above reason, “Local settlements” do not result in a public report or a formal finding of maladministration. Accordingly, a copy will not be made available on the LGO website.

 

On 15th December 2010 the LGO provided their final written report regarding a complaint made to them concerning Rossendale Borough Council and their agent; Equita Ltd. This particular complaint resulted in a “local settlement” and as mentioned above, a public report is not published.

 

 

I have a copy of the full report and permission from the complainant (Mr H) to provide the following details. Please note that the underlining is not from the LGO report.

 

 

The Complaint by Mr H concerns the following:

 

 

· Charging “multiple” fees to Mr H’s account for enforcing two Liability Orders

· Charging for visits that Mr H disputes ever took place

· Levying upon a vehicle that did not belong to Mr H and failing to provide a Notice of Seizure.

 

Paragraph 21 of the Ombudsman’s report states:

 

 

· “I am also concerned that there are fees charged to both of Mr H’s accounts in relation to one visit on 2nd July 2009. Although there were two Liability Orders in place, I do not consider it reasonable to charge twice for one physical visit”

 

Paragraph 23 states:

 

 

Thirdly, I am concerned that the bailiffs levied on a vehicle parked in the street which did not belong to Mr H. The bailiffs are required to leave an inventory of the goods seized with the customer at the time of the levy and the Council confirmed that the bailiffs will check the ownership of a vehicle with the DVLA before seizing it.

 

 

Legally, bailiffs can distrain on goods in a public place (in this case a vehicle parked in the street) if they have reasonable cause to believe that the goods belong to the debtor and are not needed for the debtor's work.

 

 

I do not consider the fact that a vehicle is parked in the street outside someone's home to be sufficient evidence of the bailiff to have reasonable cause to believe the vehicle is owed by the occupier of the house. It is recognised that there is some onus on the customer to advise the bailiffs if the vehicle listed on the inventory does not belong to them. However there is also some onus on the bailiffs to take reasonable steps to check the vehicle's ownership.

 

 

Paragraph 24:

 

 

I have consulted the Ombudsman and it is her view that although contacting the DVLA would be the most effective way to check ownership of the vehicle, she would accept other documented or supporting evidence such as the bailiff having witnessed the customer using the vehicle regularly

 

 

 

Paragraph 25:

 

 

There is no evidence to show that letters were left with Mr H on 4th and 12th June 2008 and so I consider that Mr H should not have been charged for these visits.

 

 

Paragraph 26:

 

To remedy this injustice it is recommended that the bailiff’s charges of these dates are removed from Mr H's account.

 

 

Paragraph 27:

 

 

I have additional concerns about the way this case was handled by the bailiffs. There is no evidence that an inventory was left with Mr H when the levy was made on a vehicle. In addition, the vehicle levied against was not his and the notes recorded by the bailiff are insufficient to show when visits were actually made what information was left with the customer.

 

 

Paragraph 29:

 

 

In addition, although the bailiff may have two liability orders, I consider it unreasonable that two charges were made in relation to one visit, as happened on 2 July 2008.

 

 

It is recommended that the council ensures that such double charging does not happen in future.

 

 

Paragraph 30:

 

 

The vehicle levied on does not belong to Mr H and he was not required to pay the costs associated with the levy visit.

 

 

Paragraph 34:

 

 

I remain of the view that bailiffs should make reasonable enquiries to establish the ownership of a vehicle before levying against it.

 

 

The person receiving the levy must accept some responsibility for advising the council or bailiff if the vehicle levied upon does not belong to them.

 

 

Paragraph 42:

 

 

The council has stated that a levy form was supplied. The Council has never produced a copy of the levy inventory.

 

 

The Council's complaint response to Mr H advised that the bailiff has not retained a copy of the levy form. Surely this document is essential if the bailiff were ever to proceed to seizing a vehicle? Mr H was not aware of what had been levied against until he received the Council's response to his complaint which commented on a levy having taken place, in relation to the silver Audi. At this point he was able to advise the Council we did not own such a car. I therefore remain of the view that there is no evidence of the levy inventory was left at the property.

 

Paragraph 53:

 

 

In addition, although the bailiff may have two liability orders, I consider it unreasonable that two charges were made in relation to one visit, as happened on 2nd July 2008.

 

It is recommended that the council ensures that such double charging does not happen in future.

 

 

Paragraph 54:

 

The council has accepted the recommendations and has agreed to apologise to Mr H for any procedural errors the bailiffs have made. I consider this a satisfactory way to resolve this complaint and so I have discontinued the investigation and closed the complaint.

 

XXXX

 

Investigator, on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Thank you brassnecked and tomtubby for responding.

 

I did make a complaint to the council yesterday in which I told them I considered they were fully responsible for the actions of their bailiff, this was through their own email type complaints procedure, I'm not expecting much of a response to this except the usual platitudes, still, I have to start somewhere.

 

I am currently overseas and trying to sort this out via a skype phone and computer although I will be in UK in a couple of weeks, my phone has a local number so the bailiff should be able to call me at no extra expense, but of course he is just ignoring me and all requests to call back, I get what I can only believe are scripted replies when I speak to his company.

 

Is there a way for me to look up the actual liability order made by the court? I'm assuming the order must be in the public domain.

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You will get absolutely nowhere until you get the basic info:

 

Follow what brassnecked has suggested write to the Council, there is also a template (look through PT's posts) that you can use to send to the bailiffs.

 

No offence but you are chasing your own tail at the moment, this sort of thing crops up on cag so often and the advice given always follows a standard pattern, it has been well tried and tested!!

 

tomtubby's post identifies what can and cannot be seen as acceptable.

 

WD

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Thanks WD, I agree. I'm still waiting for the call back from the bailiff and I know it's not going to happen, so I will leave it now until I am in UK week after next.

 

Then I will drag my friend around by the scruff of his neck until it's sorted out.

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Thanks WD, I agree. I'm still waiting for the call back from the bailiff and I know it's not going to happen, so I will leave it now until I am in UK week after next.

 

Then I will drag my friend around by the scruff of his neck until it's sorted out.

 

Post back as soon as you are back in Blighty, and you can get support.


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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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Post back as soon as you are back in Blighty, and you can get support.

 

Thanks, I will.

 

Just an additional question while I'm here.

 

Is it worthwhile going into their offices with my miscreant in tow? Then demanding the breakdown of charges there and then.

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Thanks, I will.

 

Just an additional question while I'm here.

 

Is it worthwhile going into their offices with my miscreant in tow? Then demanding the breakdown of charges there and then.

 

You could but would be unlikely to get beyond reception, as they like to call on you not the other way round, no money in it for them as they can;t charge a fee, mind you they may try to. others will know more


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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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To put this thread to bed.

 

I ended up going into the council offices with a signed authority from my friend to discuss the matter. Happily I spoke to someone with some common sense.

 

The end result was that all the bailiff charges were dropped other than the basic £42.50, I was able to clear the debt there and then. My friend was gobsmacked how easy it was to foil the charges. He was expecting to pay about £500 over the top.

 

While I was there I also got the council to agree that he came into the 'vulnerable' category, meaning that if he starts to get into trouble again they will come to me in the first instance.

 

So from my point of view a good result and I would like to thank everyone that contributed to this thread and to all the others I have read as well. Virtual pints all round please barman.

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Great result - make mine a large Nescafe.

 

PT


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Frothy Coffee is nice, great result, and the council admit to the vulnerability. this should prevent a repeat performance.


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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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well done, another success for cag, hope this encourages others to stand up to the council and bailiffs.

 

your friend is very lucky to have you around to care for him....well done you.

 

WD

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