Rai & Rai v Birmingham City Council [1993] (unreported)

Before Mr. J P Kieran, deputy stipendiary magistrate, Birmingham Magistrates' Court

The complainants were indebted to the city council for unpaid community charges of £252.93, £302.84 and £315.50 for the years 1990-93 respectively. Liability orders were issued and Crilleys were instructed to levy.

On July 21 1993 two bailiffs called at the Rai's home, in which the complainant Mrs Rai and her 17 year old daughter, Mrs Bassi, were present.

Mrs Rai had been advised by her neighbourhood office to refuse entry to the bailiffs and she did just that. She stood in the doorway and held the door slightly open but would not permit entry.

The bailiffs asked to use her phone, she lied and said she did not have one. She was about to go out to speak to them when one bailiff put his foot in the door and then both pushed their way in, forcing her out of the way.

The stipendiary magistrate found that the levy was irregular and accordingly ordered the return of the goods removed. In fact the forced entry and seizure of third party property was illegal and could have rendered the distraint trespass ab initio but no award of damages was made.

*Ab initio is a Latin term meaning "from the beginning".