I need my car for work or business
A motor vehicle has always been a most attractive item for a bailiff/enforcement agent to seize and in particular; because of its value and the fact that in many cases, the vehicle in located on the driveway thereby easing the removal process. Although the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 introduced some welcome changes about vehicles that may be considered exempt from being seized by a bailiff, they unfortunately provide reduced protection for business debtors.
What do the regulations say about a vehicle being exempt?
Under Regulation 4 (1)(a) of The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 the following “goods of the debtor” are considered to be ‘exempt’:
Items of equipment (for example tools, books, vehicles, telephones, computer equipment that are necessary for use personally by the debtor in the debtor’s employment, business, trade, vocation, study or education, except that in any case the aggregate value of the items or equipment to which this exemption applies shall not exceed £1,350.
How is the value of £1,350 calculated?
The financial ‘cap’ of £1,350 is considered by many to be very low indeed although it should be noted that this figure is similar to that allowed by the Insolvency Service in cases where a debtor is made bankrupt. Whilst this low figure may provide a level of security for students (ie, for ‘study and education’) the same cannot be said for sole traders and companies who will likely be badly hit by this low value.
It is generally considered that the amount of £1,350 is to be calculated as being ‘auction’ value which should not be confused with ‘second hand’ value.
What is meant by “necessary” (for use personally by the debtor)
The starting point will be whether you could continue to trade without that particular vehicle that has been seized. In other words; is the future of your business vital to that particular vehicle or could your business continue to trade with a cheaper model. Each case will be completely different but the following are good examples:
The debtor is a minicab driver. The bailiff company would argue that he could continue to trade with a cheaper model but in most cases, this would not be viable. The debtor would very likely not have any funds to purchase a ‘cheaper’ model and there is also the important matter that a cheaper version may not be reliable. In the case of ‘black cabs’ (Hackney cabs) these are usually exempt as most are provided to the driver under a rental agreement.
A glazier should easily be able to argue that his vehicle was ‘necessary’ for his business given that it is a specially modified externally for carrying heavy glass panels. However, a general builder with a ‘transit’ vehicle would have difficulty given that he could very likely continue to trade with a cheaper vehicle.
What is meant by for “use personally” by the debtor?
For example, if at any time during the course of business, an employee, or anyone else can be shown to have the use of the vehicle then the vehicle will not be ‘exempt’ from being taken. In most cases it is common to hear of bailiff companies requesting a copy of the insurance document to see whether any ‘additional’ drivers are included under the policy.
My vehicle is exempt and has been taken by a bailiff.
A significant change made to the regulations is the right to ‘appeal’ (object) to the creditor (local authority etc) if goods are taken by the bailiff which are considered to be ‘exempt’. This is a very simple and speedy procedure and one that we have used successfully many times and avoids the need for court injunctions etc. If you are concerned that a vehicle may be at risk of being taken or has already been taken by a bailiff then please contact us without delay (details are below).
Commentary from Bailiff Advice Online
If your vehicle has been clamped or removed or you have any queries about any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us either us. You can email a question to us using our popular Question page. Alternatively, we can be contacted by phone. Details can be found on our Contact page.
A simple overview of the new Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 can be read here.