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Hks91

£1200 magistrates fine, can bailiffs remove goods belonging to private limited company of which debtor is the director?

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Hi all,

 

I am new to this site so please forgive me if I have posted in the wrong place.

 

I have been fined £1200 by a magistrates court around 2 months ago.

At the time I was not able to pay and was instructed by my solicitor to state that I could pay in instalments once I had an income to avoid a harsher punishment by the judge who was not in the best of moods on the day.

 

I was advised by my solicitor and court staff to contact the collections department for fines to offer an amount I could pay monthly, every offer I ever made was refused for a payment plan but they kept telling me I could still make payments if I wished to do so.

To this day, I genuinely have been unable to make any payments.

 

Since becoming unemployed prior to this fine, I had to find a way to create an income.

I set up a private limited company in August 2018 working from home selling goods online.

I am the director of this company and 100% shareholder.

 

My question is,

now that I have started to receive letters from the court stating that further collection acticiry will take place, can bailiffs or court officers take control of assets/stock belonging to the private limited company which I am the director of?

Any help would be appreciated as I am expecting a knock on the door any day now.

 

Every week any money I make is being reinvested into existing and new stock, packaging, supplies etc.

I am not yet paying myself a wage.

I started this company with a surprise tax refund cheque and through selling my personal belongings as I needed to create a source of income as I was struggling to find work. This has paid off as my business is now getting somewhere so to speak.

 

If I have missed any crucial information please forgive me and I will reply asap to any questions or requests for further information.

I want to know whether what I have now finally built could be taken away by bailiffs / court collection officers!!

 

Kind regards

 

Hks91

Edited by dx100uk
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Was your solicitor present at the hearing or did you contact him following the hearing?

 

When you were in court, you should have been asked to complete a Means Statement (Form MC100). Did you do so?

 

Apart from your new business, you must have outgoings in order to survive. Are you living with parents?

 

Are you in receipt of any state benefits?

 

PS: It doesn't give me any great pleasure in saying so, but your solicitor has given you some dreadfully bad advice. If you can respond to the above queries, I can explain more.

 

It is important that you tell us what letters you have received from the court..and the date of the letters.

 

I am assuming that one letter is entitled: Notice of Fine & Collection Order and the 2nd notice is called a Further Steps Notice. It is this last notice that I am most concerned with. There will be a date of the FSN when it was issued. What is that date?

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I will respond to the second lot of questions in a separate post

 

The second 'Further Steps Notice' is the only one I have.

It is dated 14 September 2018.

If you need any more info please ask I will reply and thank you for replying

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In which case, I would think that you may well have a more urgent problem.

 

You would only have a period of 10 working days from the date of the Further Steps Notice in which to 'appeal' the relevant 'step' that the Fines Officer will use to enforce the fine. Unless you have provided evidence of a qualifying state benefit when you were in court, (in which case an attachment against benefits would be applied), the usual 'enforcement 'step' will for the Fines Officer to issue of a Warrant of Control> This will then be passed to a firm of bailiffs.

 

Have you as yet received correspondence from an enforcement company?

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I did not provide evidence of benefits in court no.

I have not received anything since this letter.

Not even from an enforcement company.

Does this mean that if the enforcement company sends someone out, they will be able to remove goods belonging to my company?

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I did not provide evidence of benefits in court no.

I have not received anything since this letter.

 

When you attended the hearing, the court should have requested financial information from you.

 

Were your personal circumstances or financial situation discussed at any stage of the proceedings? Alternatively, did you provide any personal information BEFORE attending the hearing?

 

It is most unusual indeed for a court to impose a fine without the defendants 'means' being taken into consideration.

 

Was your solicitor in court with you? Did he raise any question about this?

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My barrister was with me.

The judge imposed the fine and gave me 28 days to pay the fine.

 

He said that I had to pay it by borrowing or using my savings etc as far as I remember.

No financial information evidence was asked of me before or after the hearing, only the statement of means which I filled in on the day on which I stated I had £500 in savings and was receiving benefits of £73.10 a week.

 

I then explained this to the court staff after the hearing who said to just call the number for the court fines office and ask to be put onto a payment plan.

 

Upon calling numerous times I kept being told I had to pay the money back within 6 months or less and if not they would not accept any payment plan.

 

Would assets and stock belonging to my company which I am the director of be taken as goods to sell? I can prove that the assets and stock belong to the company.

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My barrister was with me.

 

The judge imposed the fine and gave me 28 days to pay the fine. He said that I had to pay it by borrowing or using my savings etc as far as I remember.

 

No financial information evidence was asked of me before or after the hearing, only the statement of means which I filled in on the day on which I stated I had £500 in savings and was receiving benefits of £73.10 a week.

 

You had me worried that a court had imposed a fine without a Statement of Means being considered. So, the court DID consider your 'means'.

 

I will warn you in advance.....you will not like my response. However, if it helps anyone else in a similar position, then I have at least achieved something.

 

You had a Barrister assisting you. Given that this was a criminal matter, the Barrister should have known that a court fine is considered a PUNISHMENT because you have been found guilty of breaking the law. It is for this reason that a Magistrate Court fine is ALWAYS considered a PRIORITY debt. This is why, one of the 'Further Steps' that a court can impose in the event of non payment, is a custodial sentence.

 

If a person is in receipt of state benefits, the MINIMUM repayment that the court can consider is £5 per week (or £20 per month). Also, it is rare for the court to allow a payment proposal to extend past a period of 12 months.

 

Here is where you also have a problem:

 

In the Statement of Means, you confirmed that you had £500 in 'savings'. The court would expect you to use this sum to pay towards reducing the fine. Personally, I am pleased to hear that you had set up a small business with the money. The Fines Office is not likely to share my view.

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I really appreciate all of your advice and assistance with this. My probation officer has said the most likely option they would choose is to double the fine which makes no sense.

 

My main concern which is most urgent is regarding assets and stock which belong to my business. In the case that the court pursues the debt via a collection agency, would the collectors have the right to remove assets and stock that belong to my business which I am the director of?

 

I don't want this to seem as though I am avoiding paying the money, I have made attempts but as I mentioned the fines office don't want to hear unless it is on their terms, they are very adamant and very blunt to put it in the politest way possible.

 

This is why my main concern is the removal of assets and stock belonging to my business which would ruin everything I have built over the past months.

 

Any advice regarding this would be hugely appreciated.

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I really appreciate all of your advice and assistance with this. My probation officer has said the most likely option they would choose is to double the fine which makes no sense.

 

I am by no means an expert, but I would not expect the Fines Officer to take the enforcement STEP as suggested by your probation officer. In any event, there is no provision for the court to 'double' the fine. He can only increase it by 50%.

The Fines Officer can consider any one ....or more, of the following Further Steps:

Make an Attachment of Earnings Order....will not happen as you are not working.

 

Make an application for deductions from your benefits.....If applicable, this would have been set up following the hearing.

 

Issue a warrant of control (for the purpose of taking control of your goods). This will incur additional costs of up to £310.....the most usual STEP

 

Issue a warrant for your arrest to return to court.....As you are on probation......be careful.

 

Increase your fine by 50%......unlikely as the court know from your MC100 Means Statement that you would be unable to pay.

 

Issue a Clamping Order for the clamping, removal and sale of your vehicle.....not very often used.

 

Register your court fine in the Register of Judgements, Orders, and Fines (affecting your ability to obtain credit).....not very often used.

 

I cannot answer with any degree of certainty what an enforcement agent would take from your property if he gained entry. What I can be certain of, is that unless you enter into a payment arrangement within the strict timeframe outlined on the Notice of Enforcement, bailiff fees of £310 will be added to the fine. Such a payment arrangement is usually only for a period of 3-4 months and you would be required to make an 'upfront' payment.

 

There will be a lot to consider regarding goods within the property. For example, are the goods worth any money? Were they paid for by you...or by your Limited Company. I would assume that you have a computer? Is that your or was it paid by the Limited Company.

 

 

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I would personally suggest that you telephone the court and ask them whether you are still able to enter into a suitable payment arrangement with the court? If so, I would suggest that you make a payment arrangement that would clear the debt in the 6 month period previously advised to you.

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