Bailiff fees: Magistrate Court Fines
In 2014 significant changes were made to the enforcement of all debts by bailiffs/enforcement agents with the introduction of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 (and its supporting legislation). One most welcome change was to simplify the fees that can be charged. Prior to 2014 each debt type (council tax, non domestic rates, parking charge notices, and magistrate court fines) had an entirely different fee scale outlined in various legislations. Also in 2014, the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 was introduced and this prescribed that with the exception of ‘writs of control’, (enforced via the High Court) the following fees now apply to all of the above debt types.
Compliance fee: £75
Upon receipt of the instruction from the creditor (in this case; HMCTS) , the Enforcement Agent (Marston Holdings Ltd, Collectica Ltd, Excel Enforcement Ltd or Swift Credit Services Ltd) must send a Notice of Enforcement to the debtor outlining the amount outstanding (which consists of the amount of the debt which remains due to HMCTS together with the Compliance fee of £75. The Notice of Enforcement must provide a minimum of ‘seven clear days’ notice for either a payment to be made or alternatively, a payment proposal to be agreed. This period of time is referred to as the ‘Compliance stage’. There is a legal requirement that the Notice of Enforcement must provide the exact time and date when the ‘Compliance stage’ ends.
Enforcement Fee: £235 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt over £1,500)
If payment of the amount outstanding is not made in full or a payment proposal agreed within the strict time period as outlined in the Notice of Enforcement (known as the Compliance stage) the debt will be passed to an individual enforcement agent for the purpose of making a personal visit to your property for the intention of ‘taking control’ of goods. When a visit is made, ‘one off’ ‘enforcement fee’ of £235 becomes payable. This fee is also payable if you default on a payment arrangement and a personal visit is made.
Sale Stage Fee: £110 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt over £1,500)
This fee is charged when an Enforcement Agent attends your property for the purpose of transporting goods for the purpose of sale. It is important to note that additional charges may be applied relating to the removal. These include storage and locksmith’s fees.
In exceptional cases only, additional disbursements may be charged but this may only apply in cases where the Enforcement company has been granted permission by the Court. An example of ‘exceptional costs’ could be where a very rare or valuable items had been taken into control and required specialist insurance etc.
Enforcement Fee of £235 and ‘vulnerable debtors’
Regulation 11 (above) and Regulation 12 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 are most important and have been put in place to protect debtors who may be vulnerable.
Regulation 12 makes provision to protect vulnerable debtors who may have been unable in the early stages to seek advice (from the local authority, magistrates court, debt counsellor/debt charity etc) about the debt.
If a bailiff makes a personal visit (which incurs an enforcement fee of £235) and identifies the debtor as being ‘vulnerable’ Regulation 12 provides that he should give the individual a chance to seek advice prior to removal of goods. If he fails to do so the ‘enforcement fee’ of £235 is not recoverable.
A copy of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 can be read here.
Commentary from Bailiff Advice Online
If you have any concerns about the fees charged by Marston Holdings, Collectica Ltd, Excel Enforcement or Swift Credit Service when enforcing a Warrant of Control in relation to an unpaid Magistrates court fine, you can email a question to Bailiff Advice using our popular Enquiry Form. Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Please refer to our Contact Page for further details.