You paid you court fine online, HM Court Service says the money has been given to bailiffs.

Example letters from HM Court service after paying a fine online.

 

 

When you pay a court fine, (without the bailiff taking control of your goods), the "sum adjudged" the enforcement power under warrant ceases to have effect. Paragraph 6(3) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 states;

(3)The property in all goods ceases to be bound when any of these happens—

(a)the amount outstanding is paid, out of the proceeds of sale or otherwise;

(b)the instrument under which the power is exercisable ceases to have effect;

(c)the power ceases to be exercisable for any other reason.

 

 

The "Amount Outstanding" is defined in section 50(3) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which says;

(3)The amount outstanding is the sum of these—

(a)the amount of the debt which remains unpaid (or an amount that the creditor agrees to accept in full satisfaction of the debt);

(b)any amounts recoverable out of proceeds in accordance with regulations under paragraph 62 (costs).

 

The sum in (a) has been paid online

The sum in (b) is zero because the bailiff did not take control of goods and sell them to pay the debt. Therefore there are no "proceeds"

 

Section 26 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 states;

Payment of fines and other sums

(1)In the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 after section 75 insert—

“75ACosts of collecting sums adjudged to be paid by a conviction

(1)Where a sum is adjudged to be paid by a conviction, the person liable to pay the sum is also liable to pay amounts in respect of costs of doing things for the purpose of collecting sums of that kind.

(2)Where the person is charged such an amount, the sum adjudged to be paid is treated as increased by that amount.

(3)No such amount may be charged unless a collection order or other notice of the person’s liability to pay such amounts has been served on the person.

(4)Where time has been allowed for payment of the sum, no such amount may be charged before the end of that time.

(5)Where payment is to be by instalments, no such amount may be charged—

(a)before the first occasion on which there is default in the payment of an instalment, or

(b)at any other time when the instalments are up to date.

(6)No such amount may be charged in respect of costs that may be recovered under paragraph 62 of Schedule 12 to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (costs related to taking control of goods and selling them).

(7)This section applies in relation to a sum even if a collection order is in force in relation to the sum.”

This rule only applies to the "costs of doing things", and it does not say fees are added to the sum adjudged. Therefore the sum adjudged remains the sum you were fined by the court.

 

When you have paid the fine online, you MUST notify the bailiff company. Do this by email, and ignore any reply. Paragraph 59(4) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 states;

(4)If the step taken is sale of any of the goods the purchaser acquires good title unless, at the time of sale, he or the enforcement agent had notice that the amount outstanding had been paid in full.

You must give a "Paragraph 59" notice.

 

That way, if a bailiff takes an enforcement step, or attends, then contact me.

We can bring an action against them for breach of Paragraph 6(3) of the Schedule 12 enforcement procedure under Paragraph 66 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 which states;

66(1)This paragraph applies where an enforcement agent


(a)breaches a provision of this Schedule, or

(b)acts under an enforcement power under a writ, warrant, liability order or other instrument that is defective.

(2)The breach or defect does not make the enforcement agent, or a person he is acting for, a trespasser.

(3)But the debtor may bring proceedings under this paragraph.

(4)Subject to rules of court, the proceedings may be brought—

(a)in the High Court, in relation to an enforcement power under a writ of the High Court;

(b)in a county court, in relation to an enforcement power under a warrant issued by a county court;

(c)in any other case, in the High Court or a county court.

(5)In the proceedings the court may

(a)order goods to be returned to the debtor;

(b)order the enforcement agent or a related party to pay damages in respect of loss suffered by the debtor as a result of the breach or of anything done under the defective instrument.

 

 

 

 

Why does HM Court Service do this?

The government is in a Catch-22. HM Court Service has to recover unpaid court fines, but in a way that is efficient and has the least financial burden on the taxpayer.

Parliament cannot introduce the statutory fee schedule to criminal debts, because they are means tested on the defendants ability to pay. Chunks of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 would have to be repealed, in particular, Section 82(4) of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 that requires a magistrate to consider a defendants means before setting a fine.

If Parliament wanted bailiff companies to be able to take control of goods to recover unpaid fees, then section 92(8) of the Courts Act 2003 would also have to be repealed.

As a work-around. HM Court Service offered the HM Court Service Enforcement Services Contract to bailiff companies, and invited them to do the work at no cost to the government.

The contract passed the risk and financial burden away from the taxpayer, and on to private companies and their indemnity insurers.

Debtors who pay the fine - or the sum adjudged by the court to pay - online, escape any fees. There are no costs of execution of the warrant when no warrant has been executed. The statutory fee schedule has only been applied to civil debts and not criminal penalties.

Therefore the HM Court Service fudges around it by giving carefully worded letters saying the matter is still with the enforcement agent. This is to give an impression that enforcement can legally continue and that money is still outstanding, without actually saying the fine has been paid and the matter is closed as far as the law and HM Court Service is concerned.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman is aware of the problem, but it will only investigate complaints on a case by case basis. This allows a certain amount of court fine enforcement cases that are not complained about to pass unchallenged, and gives the bailiff company some income for doing the work.

The object the bailiff companies now, is resist and obfuscate the complaints that do come about as much as possible, and hope that more defendants concede and pay the fees and give up their complaint. That is why I never administer complaints to an Ombudsman or a bailiff company. Only bring legal proceedings under Rules of Court.

One such tactic is having bailiff documents giving a list of professional advice services. They are actually stakeholder companies, often masquerading as a debt charity. These companies have agreed to give you advice the bailiff companies and the government want you to hear. They suggest you the fees must be paid - without actually saying you are LIABLE for them. They are not impartial to the enforcement industry and will hang up if you ask the law supporting their advice, or fudge it by giving misleading interpretations of the regulations.