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WARNING !!! Bailiff fees: Westminster....EQUITA Ltd and CAPITA Ltd.

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From the posts on the forum and enquiries that we receive there is little doubt that bailiffs (many times with the agreement of the local authorities) are charging fees that are frankly illegal.


Almost always...debtors are forced to pay either because of threatening behaviour by the bailiffs or more often....ignorance of the fee scale.


The public really ought to be aware of the scale of the abuse to the fees scale and worryingly, the way in which this is frequented by bailiffs working on behalf of local authorities that contract out their council tax enforcement to "back office" providers such as CAPITA Ltd.


As most frequent posters to this forum will know....in almost all cases where CAPITA Ltd are the "back office" providers...the Contract to provide bailiff services is strangely awarded to EQUITA Ltd. This is a very common scenario and in fact, affects two of the largest local authorities in the Country.....Birmingham City Council and Westminster Council.



For anyone new to this forum......Equita Ltd are owned by Capita Ltd.


Approx 10 days ago we received an enquiry from a sole trader who has a small office in Westminster and a Liability Order had been issued against his business for arrears of Non Domestic Rates in late Feb 2013 March and payment required by 6th March. He contacted Westminster approx 4 days late and and was told that the account had been referred to EQUITA Ltd. Strangely, he was even given the name and contact details for the bailiff !!


As mentioned above, he was just a few days late in making payment !!


He contacted the bailiff on the telephone to make the payment in full of approx £3,000 and was staggered to be told that there must have been an error and the amount needed to clear the debt was £750 more that he thought.


It was at this stage that the debtor spoke with me and I advised him to speak with the bailiff to ask whether any visits had been made. The bailiff confirmed.....no visit had yet been made.


My advice.....was to make payment of the full amount to Westminster Council and to write a letter of complaint. Predictably of course...the complaint to Westminster was answered by Capita Ltd and the following is taken from their reply:


Equita Ltd is indeed part of the Capita Group however both areas of the business have separate Contracts with the City of Westminster which are monitored. To date, no evidence of a conflict of interest has arisen.


I note your comments with regards to Mr xxx and the bailiff fees (of £750).


Equita Ltd has advised me that the amount quoted to you was the POTENTIAL figure that WOULD have been due IF THE BAILIFF HAD ATTENDED and Levied on goods with the intention to remove if payment was not made. The case has now been returned by Equita Ltd and the balance is now nil.


How many other small businesses and individuals have paid this fee without question !!!!


If this is how local authorities are treating small companies is it any wonder that we have businesses closing at such a rapid rate......

Edited by ims21
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In some other spheres of business , directors of Capita and Equita would go to jail for insider dealing perhaps.

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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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Bailiff fees are outrageous and they are often illegal and made up as they go along. If you get a fee from a bailiff then they should be able to provide a comprehensive transparent list of all of their charges and all charges have to be regulated. They should not be allowed to charge for visits not made or invent charges or hype them but they do. I do not know rules for commercial but for homes do not let them into the property even to use the loo. They cannot come in unless they have made peaceful access before. They can apparently come in through open door or window, not a closed or locked one. They cannot break in and they cannot put foot in door and force you to let them in. You do have rights. Some bailiffs play fair but most do not and Westminster were on that programme about them and they have been subject to several complaints of late about fees. There must be someone who governs bailiff activity and charging surely? If there is, then make a complaint in writing. Do not deal with them at door or on phone and if coming to an agreement then say you will contact the office in writing with your proposals. Make agreement you can afford in writing only. Bailiffs are scary people, but it is all for show! If possible film them if they come to the front door or to the business premises!

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It would be interesting to see if instead of complaining initially about bailiff fees, ask the Council first to confirm the bailiff fees and if they are payable now. If they say yes, then it would be much more difficult for them to turn round and say that some of their charges are potential ones. Hopefully that would lay the lie and that in these situations the fees are fraudulent.

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The council confirmed that as the debt was been paid before the bailiff had actually visited no fees are due.


As mentioned earlier...this will NOT be the end of the matter......

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