Enforcing the Distress Warrant
As you will see from the wording on the Notice of Fine and Collection Order you may request further time to pay the Magistrates Court fine by either writing or telephoning the Fines Officer (before the due date for payment). If you fail to contact the Fines Officer a last final opportunity to “appeal” the “method of enforcement” will be given to you under the Further Steps Notice.
If you fail to contact the Fines Officer on receipt of this notice then the court will “assume” that you have no intention of paying the court fine and in most cases, the court officer will issue a Distress Warrant (Warrant of Control) to one of the 4 enforcement companies under contract with the courts to enforce such Distress Warrants.
This will either be Marston Group Ltd, Collectica Ltd, Swift Credit Services ( for Wales) or Excel Enforcement Ltd (also for Wales).
Notice of Enforcement
Under new bailiff regulations that took effect on 6th April 2014 there is a legal requirement for the bailiff company to send a Notice of Enforcement to the debtor to advise that they are in receipt of a Distress Warrant (Warrant of Control). This notice will include a Compliance fee of £75. It is vitally important to be aware that unless the amount requested (including the Compliance fee) is paid within the strict time limit outlined in the notice (a minimum of 7 ‘clear days’ from the date of the notice) the debt will be passed to an enforcement agent for the purpose of making a personal visit to the property. This visit will incur an additional amount of £235 !! If you are intending to make full payment of the amount requested this payment must be made within the strict time limit as outlined above and must be in cleared funds. Payments should not be made by cheque or postal order as the payment would almost certainly not arrive in sufficient time to avoid the debt being passed to an enforcement agent. Instead, it is recommended that payments should be made either on-line or by phone to the enforcement company . Payments should not be made to the court. There is no requirement for the enforcement company to send a 2nd reminder letter.
Can I make a payment arrangement with the bailiff company?
Yes…however, it is vitally important to be aware that if a payment proposal if to be made it must be agreed within the strict time limit displayed on the Notice of Enforcement (a minimum of 7 ‘clear days ‘from the date of the notice). From experiences most companies would be willing to agree a payment proposal over a period of 3 months and in very exceptional cases ; over 6 months. If payment is not made or a payment proposal agreed within the time limit outlined on the Notice of Enforcement the account will automatically be passed to an enforcement agent to make a personal visit. Under the new bailiff regulations that took effect on 6th April an “enforcement fee” of £235 will be added to the account.
Can I make a payment arrangement with the bailiff when he attends my property?
Over the past 6 years we have received thousands of enquiries from members of the public who encounter difficulty in getting a bailiff to accept a payment proposal when a personal visit takes place and sadly, the courts and the enforcement companies appear to take the view that given that the debtor failed to respond to either the Notice of Fine and Collection Order, the Further Steps Notice and the Notice of Enforcement from the enforcement company that it is most likely that the debtor will default on a payment proposal and probably has no intention at all of paying. It is for this reason that it is very difficult indeed for a payment arrangement to be agreed at this very late stage.
It is for this reason that we stress the importance of contacting the bailiff company on receipt of the Notice of Enforcement. As outlined above, in most cases that we deal with the enforcement company will readily agree a payment proposal over a period of 3 months and in exceptional cases; 6 months.
Can I make payment to the Magistrate Court?
Sadly, there are many ‘debt avoidance’ ‘Freeman on the Land’ (FMoTL) and ‘fee reclaim’ websites that advise debtors that in order to avoid paying the bailiff charges (Compliance fee of £75 and Enforcement fee of £235) the debtor should make a personal visit to the Magistrate Court and to make a cash payment of the amount only of the court fine into the ‘ATM’ style ‘Drop Box’ in the court foyer. Such websites wrongly ‘claim’ by paying the fine only the distress warrant will be cleared. This ‘advice’ is absolute nonsense and will almost certainly be very costly for debtor given that under the new regulations imposed on 6th April 2014 the ‘Compliance fee’ of £75 is deducted from any payment (whether made to the court, enforcement company or bailiff). Furthermore, after the deduction of the ‘Compliance fee (of £75) the balance of the payment is split on a ‘pro rate’ basis between the the court and the enforcement company. Accordingly, the warrant will only be satisfied when payment of the ‘amount due’ (which includes bailiff fees) is paid.
One last point to make here is that since 6th April, after issuing a distress warrant the Magistrates Courts are now forwarding all payments made to the court (whether made online or deposited into the ATM style ‘Drop Box’) to the enforcement company so that they can deduct the Compliance fee (of £75) and apportion the balance on a pro rata basis in accordance with the new regulations.
If you have any queries about a Distress Warrant (Warrant of Control) or are experience difficulty in getting a payment agreement accepted please do not hesitate to contact us either by phone or alternatively, by submitting a question. We have a great deal of experience in this particular area. Please refer to our Contact us page for further details. NB: This page has been updated to incorporate the changes made as a result of the new enforcement (bailiffs) regulations that took effect on 6th April 2014