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Ministry of Justice release the Consultation Paper on the reform of the bailiff industry


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The Justice Minister; Jonathan Djanogly announced this morning that he will be releasing a copy of the long awaited Consultation on bailiff reform. This Consultation paper is embargoed until 9am.

 

I will be posting a link here so that everyone may have access to the Consultation and all attachments.

 

This is to be a Consulatation in which the public may respond to and there will be the statutory time frame of 12 weeks for responses.

 

This is of vital importance if there is to be real change to this industry.

 

The Government have been debating this Consultation for 5 years. I would hope that given the extraordinary amount time that has been taken on this that the Ministry of Justice have got it right this time.....

 

More shortly......

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Thanks TT will look forward to this, but as to lessons learned by the government regarding bailiffs, I am not holding my breath, as they could well go the other way and give them more powers.

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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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As many people will know, I have a commercial business assisting the public with bailiff enquiries and it is sadly the case that some bailiffs are acting in a deplorable manner and charging fees that are not permitted by statute law.

 

This Consultation has been adjourned for a very long time. There was a new Government and a pledge was made that a Consultation was be adjourned until such time as a Regulator had been appointed.

 

Yesterday, I was sent a link to the infamous “witching hour” speech in the House of Commons by Austin Mitchell MP in March 2007 where he was claimed that the Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts Order was “producing a huge extortion racket” with local authorities “colluding with cheating bailiffs to impose huge and excessive charges that are then justified by lies and enforced by bullying”.

Interestingly, he also said that the present structure is based on the old fashioned view that bailiffs should distrain on goods and that the emphasis should instead be on getting the debt paid. On the matter of a regulator...he said that “cowboys need a sheriff” .....“the mafia cannot be regulated by the mafia” and that “crooks need a rule maker”.

 

 

 

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I was asked by The Times to comment - this what I said. Only the second pargraph was printed

 

"Anything less than proper independent regulation of the bailiff industry would be a derilection of duty by the government. People in this country should be extremely concerned that an industry which harbours an alarming number of suspect individuals is hardly the best choice for self-regulation.

 

"The idea of adding private clampers to the list of self-regulators (one of the proposals) simply lowers expectations. I can't think there would be a single person in this country that would put any trust in a self-regulatory body that included clampers."

 

 

"At the moment anybody can become a bailiff without any proper training. The proposals to raise the competence levels required sound positive but they will be no use if there is no proper independent system to test bailiffs' knowledge. Self-assessment certainly won't work. We should set up a system where a county court judge examines bailiffs on their knowledge of the law relating to their work. before awarding a certificate"

 

 

"Taking a slightly wider perspective, if the Government wants to ensure that its consultation process results in better bailiff regulation it needs to open a dialogue, not just with those who work in the industry but with those who find themselves having to clear up the mess caused by errant bailiffs. At the moment that is not happening."

 

As a stakeholder in this 'consultation' programme I'm still waiting for my copy from the MoJ. Rather emphasises my last point

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It will be of interest to read in this Consultation who the government have appointed to regulate this industry.

Of further great importance will be the matter of a Complaints body......

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The following is a copy of an article that I wrote yesterday.....

 

Yesterday, I was sent a link to the infamous “witching hour” speech in the House of Commons by Austin Mitchell MP in March 2007 where he was claimed that the Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts Order was “producing a huge extortion racket” with local authorities “colluding with cheating bailiffs to impose huge and excessive charges that are then justified by lies and enforced by bullying”.

Interestingly, he also said that the present structure is based on the old fashioned view that bailiffs should distrain on goods and that the emphasis should instead be on getting the debt paid. On the matter of a regulator...he said that “cowboys need a sheriff” .....“the mafia cannot be regulated by the mafia” and that “crooks need a rule maker”

He also confirmed that the government had begun a consultation process in January (2007). Five years have passed since then and frankly, this delay should never have been allowed to happen.

The Ministry of Justice have known for a very long time of the abuses by bailiffs and in particular the charging by them of fees that are not in accordance with the fee scale. The most common abuse that we come across relates to an “attendance to remove fee”. The regulations state that such a fee must be “reasonable”.

In the past few days we have seen cases of a bailiff enforcing a Liability Order charging £500 “enforcement fee” at a 1st visit and a High Court Enforcement Company charging £720 for “attending to remove” when their own records confirm that their officer valued the goods that he had previously seized at just £300 !!! Worse still, the HCEO charged £720 on 3 occasions.

 

It is vital that the government ensure that the proposed fee scale in not only reasonable but cannot be misinterpreted by the bailiff industry. They have delayed their consultation by far too long. This is an opportunity to make serious change to the enforcement industry and they must not let this opportunity be lost.

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"The entire enforcement profession should not be condemned by the actions of a minority. The Association and its membership continues to work for higher standards within the industry," the ESA said.

 

So the 1 bailiff out of 100 that is actually nice and does a fair job is the minority. Sounds about rite to me lol:lol:

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Looks like the Sunday prohibition is out, allowing 7 day enforcement, but there is a provision that they cannot seize a car with a blue badge on display, and they are struggl;ing with the issue of vulnerability as they are asking people to provide a definition. There seems to be no inbuilt protections for people on benefits or low income, but you cannot make someone pay who has no money to pay with, addition of enforcement fees only make the situation worse. I will study it in depth but at a first glance I am not too impressed

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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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Misrepresentation of their legal authority

threatening the use of force.

inappropriately entering a property.

threatening to seize goods they are not entitled to.

seizing goods with a value disproportionate to the debt. Does this mean they will put a stop to a bailiff levying against a car worth 50 quid at auction against a debt of 500/1000 ????

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The Consulatation document is very long and will take quite some time to digest. Busy weekend I think......

 

Yes very busy, it is long and there is a great deal to consider, I am not impressed overall, after a quick skim through, but the devil is in the detail, so likely we will all be in a better position to comment sometime next week.

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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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A quick glance at the proposed fee structure doesn't look favourable for the debtor

 

Proposedenforcementcosts.jpg

 

On the face of it then, debtors with so called "Civil Debts" under £1,000 will incur £75 before any contact is made by bailiffs. So, for Council Tax, a debtor will typically have incurred around £75 in court fees. If these proposals are passed, the MoJ will have worked wonders by squeezing an additional £150 out of struggling council taxpayers, even before the debtor has heard from the bailiff.

 

The following table, detailing the "Order of Payment" would presumably mean that bailiffs will be incentivised to collect the entire debt in order to collect more of their fees.

 

I wonder though, what bearing these proposed fees will have on debtors who choose not to deal with the bailiffs?

 

Proposedenforcementcosts-common.jpg

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Looks nasty outlawla if the debtor is on JSA/low income and the LO is due to a HB cock up

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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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Fortunately, the Consultation is subject to a 12 week period and I suspect that I would need all of this time to consider the document.

 

On the fee scale that you have shown, this would appear "on the face of it" to show that with council tax recovery, whether a levy is made or not that a fee of £300 would be charged to the debtor. Even is there are no goods on which to levy this is a massive increase in the fee which is currently £24.50. HOWEVER.......with the recovery of an unpaid PCN, even the TOTAL fee of £300 is charged, it is a lot less than is currently being charged, but ....the devil is in detail.

 

As it was explained to me today, the "order of payment" could be VERY beneficial. At present, when collecting council tax, the bailiff company are legally allowed to deduct their fees before paying any money to the local authority. Under the new proposal, from all payments received for ANY debt, the bailiff company will retain only a pro rate amount and the local authority will also receive money as well. This SHOULD mean that bailiff companies and indeed local authorities will be more inclined to accept payment arrangements.

 

This would really assist with the enforcement of Magistrate Court fines. There are huge problems associated with the enforcement of these fines and this because of the following:

 

Under the Contracts, HMCS allow Marston Group, Philips and their other two enforcement companies a "warrant handling" period of 180 days ( 6 months) and, if the distress warrant cannot be recovered within this time, the warrant should be returned back to the court. The companies can therefore allow a payment arrangement over 6 months and,if necessary, the court would agree to extend the time that each company can keep the warrant which means that in "exceptional cases", longer payment terms can be agreed. HOWEVER, in reality this does not happen. The reason for this is because, the contract specifically states that from all payments received, the court fine must first be paid in full with the bailiff fee being deducted afterwards. Therefore, if a bailiff was to accept monthly payment over 6 months, he would know that he would not receive any payment himself until after 6 months.

 

If the pro rata payments work out correctly, this could lead to a significant decrease in complaints as the bailiff companies would be more inclined to accept payment arrangements.

 

I am running out of time so I will not give my opinion on the fee scale for High Court Enforcement suffice to say that I DO NOT LIKE THIS PART OF THE PROPOSAL ONE BIT !!

 

Also, very concerned at the prospect of VAT on bailiff fees. This could add a further 20% to the fees and this could seriously harm debtors. I need to look into this....

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On the fee scale that you have shown, this would appear "on the face of it" to show that with council tax recovery, whether a levy is made or not that a fee of £300 would be charged to the debtor. Even is there are no goods on which to levy

 

I can see a lot of people getting into a lot of trouble if this does go through. If you cant afford something in the first place then how is adding such a large amount to it going to make people pay. I'm struggling to survive and if they add fees like that then i'm going to struggle to pay for the roof over my head if i'm having trouble with paying council tax.

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I think what the MoJ did to arrive at these figures was to analyse – not the lawful fees that bailiffs are permitted to charge – but what they actually charged with their made-up and imaginary fees on top.

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Hi Everone

 

i've not been on here but owe a lot to the people that did help me, perhaps this will go a little way

 

Obviously a fair few of you have seen the news articles today about the new proposal for regulation for bailiffs, long overdue. Anyway, I thought I would pop on here to see if i could find anything on it and couldn't. so, please check the BBC website in Business/your money.

 

Anyway, I also just checked my email and got this and it links off to the website below where we can contribute to the PUBLIC consultation. I remember complaining to the Attorney General (Dominic Greive) chap and registering ages ago about my experiences.... perhaps it will help.

 

I know there a some vehement opinions and stories to be told on this forum, now is your chance to share them and feedback

 

tomtubby - is this what you were involved in when I talked you on the phone and you mentioned you visited parliament for meetings and reviews with the industry and ministers, etc?

 

Forum Mods - i was just thinking, this is legit perhaps it should be a sticky at the top for people to register and link

 

Sewingkit

 

hjC9

hjCi

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