Making a payment arrangement with the bailiff.
Once a Liability Order has been made, the regulations allow for the local authority to send the account straight to their relevant enforcement (bailiff ) company. The council do not have to send a reminder letter beforehand.
Notice of Enforcement (NoE)
The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 provide that there is a legal obligation on the bailiff company to send a Notice of Enforcement outlining the amount of the debt (Liability Order, Magistrate court fine etc) and providing the exact date (and time) by which payment must be made. This period of time, is referred to as the ‘Compliance Stage’ and a ‘compliance fee’ of £75 is added to the debt when the notice is sent.
Can I make a payment arrangement with the bailiff company?
Yes…however, it is vitally important to be aware that in order to avoid a bailiff visit (and the debt increasing by a further £235), a payment proposal must be agreed within the very strict time frame outlined on the Notice of Enforcement (a minimum of seven ‘clear days’ from the date of the notice). From our experience, most companies are willing to accept a payment proposal over a period of 3 months and in many cases, even 6 months. Most companies will insist on the first payment being made at the time of setting up the payment arrangement.
A payment proposal should be either outlined in an email or set up over the telephone and any ‘vulnerability’ should be brought to the attention of the bailiff company. You should also state the date on which payments will be made (ie: 31st of each month etc). If the payment date falls on a bank holiday (or a Sunday) you must ensure that payment is made in cleared funds before the due date.
Defaulting on a payment arrangement.
If a payment is made late, the bailiff company are not required to send a reminder letter. Instead, the account will be recorded as having ‘defaulted’ and will be passed to an individual bailiff for the purpose of visiting the property to ‘take control’ of goods. The bailiff is legally permitted to charge an enforcement fee of £235 when making this visit (the fee will be different for High Court judgments).
Can I make payment direct to the local authority?
The local authority cannot refuse the payment but, if the purpose of making payment to the council is to avoid paying bailiff fees then sadly, this will not be achieved. We have a page here detailing the difficulty with paying the council or magistrate court (in relation to court fines) direct.
Can I make a payment arrangement with the bailiff when he attends my property?
Yes, but it is sadly the case that getting a payment proposal accepted during a personal visit is much more difficult…and even more so, if the bailiff notices a vehicle on the driveway that could be sold at auction to clear the debt. Therefore, wherever possible, a payment proposal should be made during the ‘compliance stage’ outlined in the Notice of Enforcement.
Note from Bailiff Advice:
If you have a Liability Order, Magistrate’s court fine, or any other debt that is being enforced by bailiffs and are experiencing difficulty in getting a payment arrangement accepted with the bailiff company 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.