Dealing with bailiffs

Ken Downe, Swansea

I had High Court bailiffs coming to my house over a County Court Judgment that I didn’t even know that I had and I received threatening letters and phone calls as a result. I actually felt physically sick. I couldn’t afford a solicitor and didn’t know what to do, so I just started googling trying to find information and advice about bailiffs.

I phoned John Galt and from that day onwards my life changed. He assured me that bailiff action could be stopped if we implemented certain legal steps and processes and gave me confidence and even brought me out of my panic and fear by telling me bailiff jokes (they weren’t very funny) and generally making light of the whole thing whilst we worked together to prepare the necessary documents.

Before I spoke to John, I was so despondent that I didn’t think that it was an option to beat the bailiff but we did; we took it all the way back to the High Court and won!

l can tell you now, don’t sit back hoping it will go away because trust me, it won’t. Ring John and let him take the stress away. Top class service well worth the money, I would recommend John Galt onto anyone with a bailiff problem. Solicitors can't hold a candle to him in terms of his speed, knowledge and affordable fees.

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The Different Types of Bailiff and Types of Debt they Collect

The main purpose of the bailiff is the collection of debt. Their only means of enforcement is the legal power to seize and sell goods to pay off a debt. However, although goods are rarely removed, the threat of seizure is usually sufficient to make people pay. There are two main types of bailiff:

Contact and Identification

The bailiff should carry an identity card and show it on request. County Court Judgments, council tax, and magistrates’ court fines can be collected anywhere in England and Wales.

Debts and fines can be collected at any time but the court may have regard to whether the timing was reasonable. Generally, 6am to 9pm is classed as reasonable.

The Bailiffs Rights of Entry

The bailiff cannot force entry into a domestic property. The bailiff can walk through an open door, an unlocked door, or go through an open window. Once in they will make a walking possession order (a list of all your goods/belongings).

Usually once they have the list of goods they will enter into an arrangement but this will be on their terms. If you do not keep to the arrangement, the bailiff can force entry and seize goods after default. Agreement can only be made after peaceful entry.

What is the Walking Possession Agreement?

This is an agreement signed by the debtor which allows the goods to remain with the debtor as long as they keep to a payment arrangement. However, if the debtor defaults on a payment arrangement the bailiff can return, force entry and seize the goods

Which Goods Can or Cannot be Seized?

Goods which can be seized - The bailiff can only seize goods which belong to the debtor. However, the bailiff can seize goods which are jointly owned even if the other joint owner is not the debtor. Goods which cannot be seized - Generally the bailiff cannot seize the following:

If the bailiff is collecting a County Court Judgment debt, or Council Tax the following goods cannot be seized:

Costs and Fees

The costs and fees charged by the bailiff depends upon the type of debt.

County Court Judgment

No charges for signing a walking possession agreement. A fee for the issue of a warrant to seize goods. The creditor pays the fee and it is added to the debt. The amount depends upon whether the judgment is from a normal county court or a bulk centre county court. For further information on fees not shown in the table below check www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk

Amount of Debt County Court Bulk Centre

Council Tax

The bailiff visits the premises but does not gain entry:

The bailiff gains entry, lists and takes 'possession' of the goods (the goods are not necessarily removed).

Debt less than £100 - £24.50

Where the debt is over £100 it is calculated thus: 22.5% on the first £100 of the sum due, 4% on the next £400, 2.5% on the next £1,500, 1% on the next £8000 and 0.25% on any additional sum. Where the bailiff makes one attendance with a vehicle and intends to remove goods (only where the bailiff has previously gained entry, listed, taken 'possession' but not removed the goods): reasonable costs and fees. Where the bailiff removes and stores goods: ‘reasonable’ costs and fees. Where the bailiff takes walking possession of the goods (the debtor has signed a walking possession agreement) - £12.00.

Magistrates Court Fines

There is no proper regulation of these bailiffs’ charges, except that they be reasonable and not disproportionate to the size of the debt. The charges are agreed between the magistrates court and the bailiff.

Payment Arrangements

The type of payment arrangement also depends upon the type of debt.

County Court Judgments

The debtor can apply on form N245 to suspend the warrant to seize goods and to make an offer of payment that the debtor can afford. The form lists details of their income, expenditure, debts, and should include an offer of payment.

The bailiff will not take any further action once the debtor has applied on the form N245 and sent it to the court. There is a fee of £35.00. The debtor can apply for exemption from the fee if they are on Income Support, IBJSA, or Pension Credit. Others on a low income may get remission if their income is sufficiently low. Council Tax

The bailiff will normally want the debt cleared within 13 weeks. The bailiff may accept £5.00 per week off all outstanding accounts if there are special circumstances. Contact your local neighbourhood office for free further advice

Magistrates Court Fines

The bailiff will normally want the debt cleared within 28 days. There is no provision for longer repayment arrangements

You Could Ask for the Bailiff Not to be Used

It may be possible to get the bailiff withdrawn if there are special circumstances. The debtor should contact: the creditor if they have a County Court Judgment; or the City Council Revenues if they owe Council Tax; or the Magistrates Court if they owe a fine; and inform them of any special circumstances, ask for the bailiff not to be used, and if it is possible to make a new payment arrangement.

The following are examples of special circumstances

If the Council Tax Debtor is on Income Support (IS) / Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance (IBJSA), or Pension Credit the Bailiff may accept £5.00 per week off all outstanding amounts.

Refusing Entry

If the bailiff has not previously gained peaceful entry the debtor can refuse entry. The bailiff cannot force entry (but can force re-entry). The bailiff will normally return to try to make contact and gain entry. However, if the warrant to seize goods cannot be enforced, the next course of action will depend upon the type of debt.

If it is a County Court Judgment

The warrant will be returned to the County Court. The creditor must decide whether it is cost-effective to ask the bailiff to visit again.

If it is Council Tax

The warrant will be returned to the City Council Revenues who will usually decide to take one of the following courses of action:

If it is a Magistrates Court Fine

The warrant will be returned to the Magistrates Court and committal proceedings will be commenced. The debtor will be summonsed to the Magistrates Court for a means enquiry to decide how much the debtor can pay and/or whether or not they should be imprisoned.

If you have a Complaint and/or wish to take Legal Action against the Bailiff

The bailiff may have committed an offence such as:

Complaints - Complaints about the actions of a bailiff should be made to the firm of the bailiff and the legal body or authority who employ or use the bailiff.

County Court Bailiffs - Complaints should be made to the Chief Clerk of the County Court.

Private Bailiffs who collect Fines - Complaints should be made to the Clerk of the Justices of the Magistrates Court.

Private Bailiffs who collect Council Tax, etc - Complaints should be made to the Manager of the Finance (Revenues) Dept of the Council.

 

To get immediate help with your bailiff problem call John Galt on 07909 588 519 .

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