Council tax bailiffs - Fees.

The law that sets statutory bailiffs fees for collecting unpaid council tax is Table 1 of the Schedule of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 which prescribes a "Compliance stage" fee of £75. If the bailiff has attended then there is a further "Enforcement stage" fixed fee of £235.

 

The Compliance stage fee is payable when the enforcement agent has been instructed to recover the debt. Regulation 5(1)(a) of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.

Note: This is not the date the enforcement company received the instruction.

 

The Enforcement stage fee is payable when the enforcement agent makes his first attendance at the address for which he is instructed to attend. Regulation 5(1)(b)

Note: This is not for attending any other address linked to the debtor that is not on the instruction.

 

The only ways to avoid bailiffs fees:

Finding something that is not compliant with the law in connection with the administration or enforcement of your council tax liability. In some cases a non-compliant council tax liability itself can also be revoked as well as the bailiffs fees. So run the online compliance check here. and Regulation 17(1) of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 says the enforcement agent may not recover fees.

Dispute the council tax liability itself, for example if you were not living at the address giving rise to the charge or students or sharers in a house.

Paying the liability direct with the council (or challenge it) using whatever steps needed. This DOES NOT revoke bailiffs fees that have been incurred up to that point - regulation 4.3 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014, but it DOES STOP all further levy or other enforcement action - Paragraph 58 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and Guideline 31 of the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014**

 

** If a bailiff wants to recover his fees incurred up to and including the point at which the debt was paid direct to the council, he must take a new civil action against you under Section 92(8) of the Courts Act 2003. He cannot simply threaten you with removing goods or vehicles. This is because the original warrant (authorising the bailiff to take control of goods) dies upon payment of the sum printed on it.

There is no VAT on bailiffs fees. The bailiff is performing a contractual service to the local authority and they pay the VAT.

You still need to pay the council tax itself (if still due) and paragraph 58 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 says when the debtor pays the sum then no further enforcement steps can be taken.

 

Common bailiff fee scams to watch out for

NEVER pay the bailiff money online or over the telephone, otherwise your money will go straight into his pocket. He will try and cheat you by one of the following methods:

Taking your payment "proceeds of enforcement ". The bailiff says he has "seized" your payment of money as "goods" under paragraph 50(1) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and incur the £235 enforcement stage fee.

No statutory notice of enforcement. The law says you must be GIVEN a statutory notice of enforcement at least seven clear days excluding public holidays and Sundays before a bailiff starts enforcement. The law is Regulation 6 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and Paragraph 7(1) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. The method of being given the notice is prescribed by Regulation 8 (1)(e). which clearly says where the debtor is AN INDIVIDUAL the notice must be GIVEN to the debtor. That is not the same as sending it in the post.

Charging a £235 attendance fee to recover an unpaid £75 compliance stage fee without any principle debt outstanding. The law does not provide for fees to be recovered in this way. Paragraph 58 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007

Charging the £75 compliance fee when the bailiff company has been instructed or the date of the Notice of Enforcement. This is a myth put around by bailiff companies. Regulation 5(1)(a) The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 says it becomes due then the enforcement agent is instructed.

Charging the £110 Sale or disposal fee without selling any goods. Bailiff try advance fee fraud by charging all the stage fees in advance. If the bailiff did not sell any goods then you can make a formal complaint to the creditor and recover overpayments. There is a template below to deal with this. Regulation 5 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.

"Its in the hands of the bailiff". The bailiff company deliberately PREVENTS you paying the debt and the £75 compliance stage fee to the bailiff company saying "its in the hands of the bailiff in charge". They are trying to swindle you of the £235 enforcement stage fee by preventing you paying it at the Notice of Enforcement Stage. Its a very common bailiffs scam.

Backdated notices. Dishonestly making a back-dated attendance AFTER the debt has been paid and thereby cheating you the enforcement stage fee of £235.

Recovering multiple liability orders simultaneously. When recovering multiple Liability Orders simultaneously, the bailiffs charges separate fees for each Liability Order. Except for the £75 compliance fee which can be charged for each Liability Order. Only one £235 fee can be charged no matter how many debts are being recovered from the debtor at the same address. Regulation 11(3)&(4) of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 and is regardless how many visits are made.

Charging fees not prescribed by regulations, such as "van fee" and "waiting time" etc.

The bailiff says you need to apply for a "detailed assessment of fees". If you dispute bailiffs fees the bailiff company tells you that you can only do this by applying for a "detailed assessment" of the bailiffs fees. This is not true because a detailed assessment only applies to assessing the costs of moving and selling your goods. If no goods have been moved, there are no costs to assess and overpayments above the regulated fee scale can be recovered from the council in the small claims track.

You can report any of these frauds to the police or to Action Fraud. Here is a template.

 

 

Use this template to make a complaint or start a claim in connection of being charged the £110 sale or disposal stage fee fraudulently when no goods have been sold.

 

When you have paid the council before the bailiff started any enforcement stage you must notify the bailiff in writing under paragraph 59 (2) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and this prevents further fee stages being charged. Here is a template.

 

In spite of Regulation 4(3), there is nothing in the regulations that allows bailiffs to execute distress on your goods or vehicle to recover fees. He can however use legal process such as applying to a court for a separate recovery Order because the warrant of execution only authorise bailiffs to execute distress on goods to recover the outstanding debt shown on the Liability Order itself. Such a claim could be defended using guideline 31 of the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014 that says when enforcement action has ceased, the bailiff cannot enforce the recovery of fees.

There is no VAT on bailiffs fees. The bailiff is performing a contractual service to the local authority and they pay the VAT.

 

Liability Orders

The statutory fee for each liability order applied is £3 according to Schedule 1(5) of the The Magistrates’ Courts Fees Order 2008, but councils, according to a recent local newspaper article, councils charge a lot more. If you have been charged more than £3 for your liability order application then reclaim them you have a right to reclaim it.

Bailiffs cannot charge multiple fees on the same goods or levying on someone else's car. You can ask for these to be refunded by asking the council to follow the Local Government Ombudsman's recommendations on pages 6 and 7 of 11 of the Local Government Ombudsman report on 29 November 2012 and Paragraph 7 of the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014

Card fees and bank transaction fees are not regulated bailiffs fees, you do not need to pay them and if you have already paid them to a bailiff then you can reclaim them from the council that instructed the bailiff via formal complaint (template below). It doesn't matter how small the charges are, they are not allowed.

Card fees are controlled by regulation 4 of the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, if you have been charged such a fee then you can report the bailiff company to the Office of Fair Trading. See this fact sheet

 

 

 

How to reclaim it.

You write a FORMAL COMPLAINT AND LETTER BEFORE ACTION to the council and copy in the bailiff company

 

Always get your MP involved because it is unlikely Parliament intended allowing private companies to defraud families already struggling to make ends meet.

Ignore any reply you get from the bailiff company, it will be their standard legalistic nonsense letter. Post it on the forums if you would like it explained, but remember to mask out your personal details.

If your formal complaint is not resolved or their reply is not marked "Final Resolution" and/or fails to properly understand the nature of your complaint (whether by mistake or deliberate) or simply tries to exclude itself from following the complaints procedure, then you can start a fresh new formal complaint and ask the authority to pay you £120 for wasting your time. Treat this as a completely separate formal complaint.

If you are still fobbed of with excuses, you can interpret the council is vexatious so ask the Local Government Ombudsman to intervene under Section 26 of the Local Government Act 1974 and they can pay compensation. (See their bailiff complaints fact sheet).

Or you can reclaim the fees in the small claims track (the county court). Here is more

 

If you've lost money to any type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud using Action Fraud’s online fraud reporting tool or by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. If you know the criminals behind doorstep fraud or any type of fraud, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by using their secure online form. Police follow a list of criteria for deciding whether to investigate a fraud. You must learn the criteria and set out your complaint so it fits neatly into it. Otherwise police will summarily fob your complaint.