Can I avoid Bailiff fees by paying the council?
One of the most popular questions that we receive via our helpline or Enquiry Form is ‘Can I avoid Bailiff fees by paying the council direct? The simple answer to this question is no and in fact, this was the subject of a recent court judgment (Bola v Harrow & Newlyn).
Notice of Enforcement.
The enforcement company must by law send you a Notice of Enforcement. A Compliance fee of £75 is added to the debt at this stage. The ‘amount due’ to settle the debt in full includes the Compliance fee (of £75).
If payment including the Compliance fee is not made by the date outlined on the Notice of Enforcement, the account will be passed to an enforcement agent. A personal visit will be made to your property. The purpose of the visit will be to ‘take control’ of your goods. At the time of the visit, an enforcement fee of £235 may be charged. This fee becomes chargeable even if you are not at home at the time of the visit.
How is the ‘amount outstanding’ calculated?
The enforcement regulations specifically provide that the amount due includes the amount of the debt and the enforcement agent fees calculated up until the time of payment.
Payments made will be split on a ‘pro rata’ basis.
From any payment made (whether online to the local authority or the Magistrates Court) the Compliance fee of £75 must be deducted first. The balance will then apportioned on a pro rata basis between any remaining bailiff fees and the debt to the local authority or the Magistrate Court (in respect of court fines).
If I refuse to pay the bailiff does it mean that bailiff fees cannot be collected?
No, it does not. This is a popular ‘myth’ that has its origins with ‘debt avoidance’ websites and is incorrect. The enforcement regulations are clear in that the enforcement companies Compliance fee of £75 must be deducted first from any payment made. Unless the ‘amount due’ (which includes bailiff fees) is paid, bailiff enforcement will continue.
What will the local authority do with the payment?
If payment is made to the local authority (or magistrates court in the case of court fines) after a liability order or warrant has been passed to the enforcement company, then in almost all 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.
Please note that if a payment is made direct to the local authority (or magistrate court) the payment may take between 5-7 days to be processed. In most cases, this delay will lead to an enforcement agent making a visit to your property. You will then also be liable for the enforcement fee of £235.
Commentary from Bailiff Advice Online
If you have a debt that is being enforced by bailiffs and are experiencing difficulty in getting a payment arrangement accepted with the bailiff company, or have any other query, please feel free to contact us. You can email a question to us using our online Enquiry Form. Alternatively, can contact our helpline. Details are on our Contact page.
Lastly, our Simplified Guide to the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 can be read here.