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Tomo1969

Unpaid Fine... HMCS directly told me Philips dont need to levy, and can knock down my door on their 1st visit

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OK, so Lightning has struck twice!

 

I go years as a good boy with no hastles and problems and BOOM, suddenly I'm a bailiff magnet.

 

It turns out that I have an unpaid fine for an unpaid TV License...

 

Long story short...My house has a street name sign attached that is different to the address most computer/satnavs think is the address and consequently lots of mail goes astray... etc...

 

I knew I had an unpaid license fee outstanding, but didn't know it had been passed to bailiffs.

 

Philips men turned up today, dressed in police style outfits, with the silver numbers and body-vests and everything, said they were from the court, and that the bailiffs were on their way to drill out my doors and the police would be in attendance to enforce my compliance, if I didn't pay £750 there and then.

 

I asked if they needed to levy first, and they said no. Apparently they had a warrant to enter, and could do so immediately.

 

I asked to see the warrant, and he showed me a piece of paper headed "Philips", but he said that it was simply their paperwork, that the guys with the van would turn up if I didn't pay straight away, and I'd get to see the court document when it was being enforced...

 

I then contacted the Court, and asked them if this was right, they didn't know and gave me another number for the HMCS Central Enforcement who put me on hold for 10 minutes and finally told me that yes, the bailiffs could force entry without levy immediately.

 

I would have come here, but with HMCS saying they could do it, and the guys pretending to be court officials saying the van was at the end of the road, I felt the pressure of time a bit too much...

 

So, I've paid....

 

I'm already feeling like I shouldnt have and should have held out to make a payment plan, but when HMCS says that they have the power to do it, you have to believe them... dont you?

 

Any advice? I know I cant get the money back, and Christmas is going to be a quiet affair this year... But if they've misinformed me, and I COULD have set up a payment plan, then I want to complain.

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If the fine is genuine you wont get the money back. You can make a formal complaint to the court for failure to send a further steps notice.

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Does a fine for an unpaid TV license count as a criminal fine?

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yes but not on your CRB or a PNC check.

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So the HMCS was right, they could have forced entry with no prior warning.

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Not without permission from a magistrate, and that is verey rarely given. More chance of winning the lottery. Bailiffs only say it to wind you up.

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The bailiff said that the warrant of execution counts as permission, so I phoned the court, who passed me over to HMCS Central enforcement, and after they called round a bit, and checked with the bailiff, the woman I was talking to said that it was perfectly OK for the bailiffs to force entry right there and then.

 

Both the court, and HMCS said they have no authority or responsibility in regards the way a bailiff behaves.

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Oh, and the court dealing with all this was a different court that applied the fine. Apparently it got "passed over", whatever that means.

When I suggested that the court were responsible for the Bailiffs behaviour, I was told, that "no they weren't" and when I tried to point out the MoJ's guidelines, i was told "You'll have to take that up with the Ministry of Justice then..."

The Central Enforcement office is in yet another city, and no one seems to accept responsibility, treating everything in the third person,

"Yes, that's what would happen" or "Unfortunately THEY would have done this that or the other..."

No one asked if I'd received a further steps notification, or anything...

No one seems to know anything, and because it is with the Bailiffs they want to wash their hands of it..

 

I struggle to believe that they could do all this and act this way without any prior notice whatsoever, or without accepting or even acknowledging an opportunity to make an arrangement.

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This is a Distress Warrant? It only provides for the enforcement officer to levy distrain on trhe debtors goods. The text of a standard court fines warrant does not give a permission to break into homes.

 

Use your mobile and record the evidence and make formal complaints.

 

Whoever is advising you seem confused by 'forced entry' and the difference with 'breaking and entering' and may think the two are the same.

 

I am not sure whether or not the court is liable for the bailiff, but I understood that HMCTS as a department have a responsibility for the bailiffs misdemeanours but complaints are best made formally and then via your MP at the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

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I've spoken again with Enforcement lot, and they said it WAS a distress warrant, but apparently the initial fine was from 2010, and they say they sent a Further Steps Notice then, and therefore didn't need to send another.

There was apparently a separate hearing when they coudln't discharge a warrant for my arrest, (I mentioned the confusing street sign... apparently they came several times and couldn't find the right address) and since I didn't conform to the instructions it got passed to bailiffs to recover.

 

I knew that we hadn't paid the TV license that year, and TBH forgot all about it, after we sorted the DD payments out to get subsequent payments sorted. But that was ages ago, and if as they say, the hearing regarding my fine was in August this year, shouldn't there have been some correspondence between then and now to warn me a bailiff was coming?

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If the FSN was sent to an old address then you have grounds to have enforcment stopped.

 

You can make an sworn affidavit saying you did not receive the FSN because your address is known to be hard to find due to a confusing street sign.

 

I would be surprised an arrest warrant would be executed. Too many bailiffs got beaten up and its too expensive to police it.

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There was apparently an arrest warrant for me to attend a hearing for not paying the fine, which they couldn't enforce because they couldn't find the house... So they had the hearing in my absence

The Central Enforcement people told me that.

They phoned me back about ten minutes ago, and I got to talk to a clever-dick supervisor, who kept telling me that any complaints had to be directed to Philips, and I kept telling her that I wasn't complaining, just trying to establish the facts of the situation, and if there was no cause to complain, I wouldn't.

 

I asked her to email an explanation of the powers of entry granted through a distress warrant, and she said they didn't know and that I should check on Philips' web site under FAQ's. Then she said they don't use email. I asked if she was sure, and apparently it's "policy".

When I said that one of her associates had earlier today said that the distress warrant DID allow the bailiff powers to kick down the door, she said, "our staff wouldn't say that" so I said, "but they DID say that" and she fell back on, "well, we've only your word for that haven't we..."

Which leads me to conclude that even if I am being shafted, I'm going to have to put up with it and the butt-monkeys doing it are going to get away with it again.

 

She also said that if I want to complain about them I should just go to the Ombudsman. I asked which one, and she said, "you'll have to figure it out yourself..."

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You dont need to make a complaint to Phillips, they are a private company. If a government unit has done something wrong then you contact the Local Government Ombudsman. You mist firsr make a WRITTEN formal complaint.

 

You can also make a complaint the supervisor is vexatious and this is not an acceptable bahaviour expected from anyone holding a position at HMCTS.

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