You got a surprise bailiffs letter about a "Capital Contribution Order"

Here are some examples:

Capital Contribution Orders were introduced by regulation 19 of the Criminal Defence Service (Contribution Orders) Regulations 2009, which enables the Legal Services Commission to require convicted defendants to contribute towards the cost of their legal representation. It does not normally apply to minor offences in Magistrates' courts.

A Capital Contribution Order (CCO) is an order to make over a lump sum payment to contribute towards the cost of your legal representation in criminal proceedings. An Interest Contribution Order is an order to make over some of your income.

If the order was made more than six years ago, then, as it is a "statutory debt" it is statute barred under section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980.

If a CCO is made then regulation 8(11) requires the Legal Services Commission (the "assessing authority") to notify you may be liable to make payments under a CCO.

A letter from a private company with "Capital Contribution Order" printed on it does not make a valid Regulation 8(11) notice because the company is not the assessing authority.

A company is sending demands, out of the blue, for payment through the post using "bailiffs" note paper and may be adding their own transaction fees. This tactic misleads the recipient the liability is enforceable by levying distress and removing goods.

Nothing in the regulations provides for the levying on goods (distress), it is only an order for payment of a sum.

As CCOs are very new it is understood the bailiff company involved is simply "having a go" at trying to collect CCOs and recovery of sums have so far been negligible due to the defendant having no money.

If the liability is genuine then your duty to pay is to the Legal Services Commission. You do not have to pay any fees to a company and there is no contract between you and the company that enables them to create a liability and charge you their fees.

If you owned registered land (property) in the UK then the Legal Services Commission would have applied for an interim Charging Order by now, or may be already in the preliminary stages of an application. If you have a trustee or partner then now is the time to consider transferring your property. Land Registry forms TR1, AP1 and ID1 are all that's needed and HM Land Registry has a free advice line. Under regulation 26, it won't reduce the liability but may protect your home from a forced sale.

The law DOES require you to be MEANS ASSESSED before a Capital Contribution Order can be made under these regulations and you are not normally liable if any of the following applies, you are:

On a prescribed benefit.

Under 18

Living on an income less than 12,745 (as of 21/11/2011) and subject to an assessment of your living expenses

Your combined tangible assets including cash and equitable property you own is less than 30,000.

Your proceedings were held in a Magistrates' Court.

 

 

A CCO is made in a Crown Court or the High Court. However you only have 21 days after the date of the close of proceedings not necessarily the conviction date to appeal against the order by writing to the judge. You will need professional advice for this.

If you first become aware of a CCO being made is a bailiff's letter then check the document to see if any of the following applies.

 

1. It does not comply with regulation 6 of the CDS(CO)R 2009 because no means test was made before making the order.

2. It does not comply with regulation 22 of the CDS(CO)R 2009 which sets out the content of an order.

3. The assessment as to your CURRENT means and circumstances is wrong or recently changed or is based on wrong information.

4. You received the Order MORE than 21 days after the end of the proceedings which denies your statutory right of appeal.

5. The letter is from a private company and not from the assessing authority which means the inferred liability may not be genuine.

 

Write to the Legal Services commission and make a FORMAL COMPLAINT and ALWAYS enclose a copy of the original document.

 

Using this template. Delete the grounds listed that DO NOT apply to you.

 

If the Legal Services Commission starts resisting your complaint then go to your MP and he can ask the Parliamentary Ombudsman to intervene.


If you do not have the means to pay a CCO and the order is not revoked then the debt stands for six years before it dies under section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980. Interest at 6% a year (compounded half yearly) may continue to accrue for that six years.

You could ask the court that made the order by writing a simple letter to the court manager or file a Form N245 (fee applies) to vary the CCO into an Income Contribution Order and you can pay in installments or apply to set aside the order using a Form N244. You should get help from a local advice centre.

If your request is refused or is resisted then you should to seek legal advice. If you do not have the means to comply with the order and the result of enforcement will come to nothing. It becomes a perpetual debt on the Legal Services Commission's books and becomes unrecoverable after the statutory 6 years has lapsed.

The regulations do not say you commit an offence for non-payment or refuse to pay nor does it provide for you to be "arrested" or be "sent to prison".