Can I avoid Bailiff fees by paying the council?
Once an account has been sent to a bailiff company, it is very difficult to avoid paying bailiff fees. Full details are provided below:
Compliance Fee: £75
This fee is charged to the debt as soon as the account is passed to the enforcement company by either the local authority or the magistrate court and will appear on the Notice of Enforcement.
Enforcement Fee: £235
This fee is charged to the debt if payment (or a payment arrangement) is not agreed during the ‘compliance stage’ and where a personal visit is made to the premises by an enforcement agent/bailiff.
How is the ‘amount outstanding’ calculated?
This part of the regulations is very important given that it provides that the ‘amount due’ includes the amount to which the Liability Order or Warrant of Control had been issued and the enforcement agent fees calculated up until the time of payment.
Payments made will be split on a ‘pro rata’ basis.
This part of the new bailiff/enforcement regulations is very significant indeed and provides that from any payment made (whether made to the local authority or Magistrates Courts either in person or ‘on line’) that the payment will be ‘split’ so that some of the payment goes towards the bailiff fees and the balance towards the debt to either the local authority or the Magistrate Court (in respect of court fines).
Most importantly, the statutory regulations confirm that the Compliance Fee of £75 must be deducted first.
How does this work in practice?
For example, a Liability Order has been issued for: £525.
Notice of Enforcement sent to the debtor with Compliance fee of £75 added. Amount due increases to: £600
Debtor fails to pay (or set up a repayment agreement with the bailiff company) during the ‘compliance stage’ and the account is referred to the enforcement agent/bailiff for a personal visit to the property. An Enforcement Fee of £235 is added. Amount due increases to: £835
Debtor makes payment to the local authority/magistrates court of £525 (being only the amount of the Liability Order /court fine).
Compliance stage fee of £75 is deducted at source and the balance of £450 is then split on a ‘pro rata’ basis with approximately 70% being allocated towards reducing the debt to the the local authority and 30% to the enforcement agent to be allocated towards the bailiff fees.
If I refuse to pay the bailiff does it mean that bailiff fees cannot be collected?
No. This is a popular ‘myth’ from ‘debt avoidance’ websites (almost all of which have links to the Freeman on the Land or other such similar movements). Such advice is incorrect.
The new enforcement regulations have made it a statutory requirement that payments are split on a ‘pro rata’ basis. Accordingly, unless the ‘amount due’ (which includes bailiff fees) is paid in full, enforcement action will continue.
What will the local authority do with the payment?
It is important to be aware that following the implementation of the new regulations in 2014, it is now the case that if a debtor makes payment to the local authority (either in person or online) after a liability order has been passed to the enforcement company then in most cases the council will forward the entire payment to the relevant enforcement company so that they may deduct their fees in accordance with the ‘pro rata’ provisions as outlined above.
It is important to also be aware that if a payment is made direct to the magistrate court (or the local authority) that this payment may take between 5-7 days to process and in most cases, this delay leads to an enforcement visit being made incurring a fee of £235.
Note from Bailiff Advice
If you have any queries about the enforcement of a Liability Order or are experiencing difficulty in getting a payment agreement accepted, you can email a question to us using our Question page. Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Details are on our Contact page.
A simple overview of the new Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 including details of fees that can be charged, notices that must be given by the bailiff and items that are ‘exempt’ can be read here.