4 December 2013

Kicking you when you are down

Bailiffs are like the school bully, however, they can be stood up to.
Mr Mustard has so far seen the effects of four bailiffs in action. Their behaviour has not been pretty. They have a difficult job to do and don't do it very well at all. The bailiff who was in the wrong in clamping a Motability car was rude when unclamping when he should have been polite and apologetic.

Here is an example of a badly written bailiff's letter, bullying and a conflict of interest all in one A4 sheet.

click to enlarge
A badly written letter

Now in this case there were three warrants so the "s" of warrant(s) shouldn't be in parentheses. On the second line there is reference to "warrants" in the plural which would be wrong if there was only one warrant and this letter is evidently used in all circumstances. 

There is reference to client(s). Generally there will only be one client being collected for but it should be clear.

It isn't clear why the date of seizure of the vehicle is put in a larger font size or why a continental date format is used when a short form date format is used at the top of the letter.

The amount outstanding "as of today" cannot include an extra £30 a day. What NSL mean is please add £30 on for each extra day after the date of the letter up to the date of payment.

To prevent further enforcement action you could, in this case, file a form N244 for a personal hearing in front of a District Judge in your local County Court. The exhortation that "you must make a full payment" is to try and bully you into paying without considering your other options.

"Please call in to the call centre" must mean by telephone but Mr Mustard expects that when one of his friends says they will "call in" that he can expect a knock on the door not a phone call. A pity that the number of the call centre is not given. We are expected to guess that the telephone number at the top of the page is the one for the call centre? It is impossible to telephone the call centre at least 24 hours before payment unless you delay paying for 24 hours. The normal process would be that you decide, after a lot of thought, to pay and then you do so almost instantly. Thus you couldn't go back 24 hours to warn NSL / TASK that you are going to pay. In addition, the moment that you have paid you are entitled to the return of your vehicle. Councils that clamp and remove cars to a pound are expected to provide a round the clock service for their release.


The reason this letter is a bullying one is that an out-of-time witness statement was filed with the Traffic Enforcement Centre ("TEC" - attached to Northampton County Court) and their decision on 7 November 13 was that the PCN would not be put back to the start of the process so that representations could be made. The Order of the TEC (essentially a Court) gave the applicant the option to file a form N244 for a local Court hearing within 14 days of service of the Order. Therefore nothing should have been done before 22 November 13. This bullying letter is 10 days premature, looks like an abuse of process and is the responsibility of Barnet Council who have a duty of care with regards to the behaviour of their bailiffs as it is the Council who are the creditor. The letter is designed to harass the recipient into paying up. 

If Mr Mustard sees another letter like this one, sent before time, he will start a complaint with the view to it reaching the Local Government Ombudsman.

Conflict of Interest

Barnet Council outsource its parking enforcement to NSL. It isn't clear from this letter who gave the instruction to proceed with enforcement but Mr Mustard has all of his money on NSL. So this means that NSL decided if their own bailiff Task Enforcement should proceed down a route which would lead to the car being auctioned off (it was worth something approaching £3,000 although seized cars somehow don't sell for their true value) and at that point Task (part of NSL) would bank their considerable fees. It simply cannot be right that the company that makes the decision profits from it. We are always being told that NSL don't make more money if they issue more PCN, well they do if the PCN end up for enforcement with the bailiff that they own. The Contract with NSL needs to be changed so that either Barnet Council make decisions affecting the bailiff (if they don't already and Mr Mustard hasn't seen that in the NSL contract) or NSL should be barred from giving warrants to Task.


The more closely Mr Mustard looks at parking enforcement the murkier it seems. Over the festive break he will decide what his plan is for 2014. It will probably include, amongst other things, the introduction of a voluntary charitable contribution for his personal assistance with a PCN appeal (but only for the 97% of cases that he wins) and talks for motorists, such as:
  • How to park and not get a parking ticket
  • The appeal process in outline and some standard arguments
  • Dissecting the evidence pack prior to a PATAS hearing
If you have a group which would like Mr Mustard to educate them (for 20 to 30 minutes) do please get in touch at mrmustard@zoho.com

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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