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 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) and Excel Enforcement Ltd (also for Wales).
The bailiff company must first write to you to advise that they are in receipt of a Distress Warrant and that unless payment is made or a payment proposal agreed that a personal visit will be made to your home address to enforce the Distress Warrant.
Sadly, many debtors when they receive such a letter contact the Magistrate Court to ask them to recall the warrant and to accept a payment proposal. If you had failed to make contact with the court on receipt of the Notice of Fine and Collection Order or the Further Steps Notice it is almost always the case that the court will not intervene and instead, will advise you to deal with the bailiff company.
Can I make a payment arrangement with the bailiff company?
Yes…however, it is vitally important to be aware that under the contract with the Magistrates Court each company will have a “warrant handling period” of 180 days ( 6 months) and if a payment arrangement is accepted this will usually be for approx 3 months and only in very exceptional cases over 6 months.If the distress warrant cannot be executed within 180 days, it should be returned back to the court. However, the bailiffs company can request an extension to the 180 day period.
Each company is allowed to charge an “administration fee” of £85 when sending the letter to you. You will not be sent a 2nd reminder letter. Instead, unless contact is made with the bailiff company within a few days of receiving the letter then it is assumed that you have no intention of paying and the distress warrant will then be passed to an individual bailiff to make a personal visit to your property to execute the Distress Warrant.
Unfortunately, if the matter has got to this very late stage, the courts have agreed that the bailiff companies may charge a fee of £215 when making a personal visit. This is in addition to the administration fee of £85 making a total charge of £300 !!
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 initial letter from the enforcement company that it is most likely that they will default on a payment proposal and probably has no intention at all of paying.
It is for this reason that we stress the importance of dealing with the Magistrate Court fine at the very earliest opportunity in order to avoid a Distress Warrant being issued.
If you have any queries about a Distress Warrant 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.