Throssell v Leeds City Council [1993] Leeds county court, case no.9350977

Judgment:

"The relevant statutory instrument is the Community Charge (Administration & Enforcement) Regulations 1989 under the Local Government Finance Act 1988. Reg.39 sets out in nine paragraphs the right of the authority to levy distress.

It is argued by the applicant that the common law rules touching distress and the conduct of bailiffs must be considered alongside the regulation- including the common law rule that distress should not be levied after sunset. There is no authority which the applicant can produce to support this contention.

The respondent on the other hand contends that the regulations are solely the creature of statute and all the rights and powers of the authority are exhaustively to be found therein. They cite as authority for that Abingdon DC v O'Gorman 119681 and the comments of the learned authors of Hill and Redmond.27 I find that reg.39 does not preclude this distress being prima facie lawful and one for which the authority may charge a reasonable amount as provided for in the schedule to the regulations.

There is a further point made by the respondent that any person aggrieved by the levy should appeal to the justices. The applicant however says that if he goes there, there is a danger he may be condemned in costs if the justices find as a fact that no distress had been attempted. On the facts as I have found them I am satisfied that the applicant is entitled to have the charges taxed by this Court.

Turning to the taxation it seems to me that notwithstanding the fact that there were three liability orders but one visit was made by one bailiff and the maximum that the council's reasonable charges can be is the result of applying the formula contained in Sch.5 para.2(1) b) of the regulations.

This I now do: Amount of total due under liability order and costs £610.10

12.5% on the first £100 £12.50

4% on the next £400 £16.00

2.5% on the next £110.10 £2.75

Total costs £31.25

It is further argued that this is a maximum and not necessarily reasonable per Se.

I have considered that a bailiff would need to consider the matter and to make a trip across the city and to be engaged at the applicant's house for some time, thereafter to return to the respondent's offices and make his report.

Taking those circumstances into account I am satisfied that £31.25 is a reasonable charge and I tax and allow it accordingly. No order for costs."