30 December 2013


The use of bailiffs to collect council tax has been in the news this week with the Citizens Advice service worried about the speed at which they are resorted to, charges being made for visits that never took place and councils not keeping any data about the actions of the bailiffs (in respect of whose behaviour they have a duty of care).

Mr Mustard usually gets involved with parking tickets before bailiffs are instructed and much prefers to keep it that way. He has however helped a few people and the following table gives you an idea of how the penalty for a simply traffic contravention (which may not even have taken place but any failure to follow the proper procedure means that you end up guilty) can increase to a disproportionate amount.

Original Value of Bailiff Bailiff Extra paid Notes
# PCN £ Warrant £ Claim £
or claimed £
1 110 172 1,571 Newlyn 1,227 Car put on low loader to force payment
2 110 172 on the day the motorist returned from USA
3 130 202 431 Newlyn 229 visit stage (max 3)
4 110 172 389 Newlyn 217 visit stage (max 3)
5 110 172 185 Task 13 Initial letter
6 110 172 389 Newlyn 217 visit stage (max 3)
7 110 172 389 Newlyn 217 visit stage (max 3)
8 60 97 110 Task 13 Initial letter
9 110 172 623 Newlyn 451 visit stage (max 3) Overcharge
10 60 97 110 Task 13 Initial letter
11 110 172 185 Task 13 Initial letter
12 110 172 1,164 Newlyn 992 Vehicle taken to car pound
13 110 172 1,181 Newlyn 740 Vehicle taken to car pound
14 110 172
15 60 97
16 110 172 457 Newlyn 285 visit stage (max 3)

Amounts in black bold type were actually paid (before Mr Mustard was involved).

Amounts in blue were not paid and many of the PCN were subsequently cancelled due to illegal behaviour by the bailiff.

Amounts in red were not paid (save for a without prejudice settlement of £100 in the £740 case) and the vehicles were both recovered from the pound.

Although all the residents were in Barnet these cases includes ones for Camden and Harrow councils.

Bailiffs don't have to send the a warning letter before they visit but if they do it will cost you £11.20 + vat. If you owe the debt, pay it at this point.

After that you can be charged £28 + vat for debts under £100 (a £60 PCN will have become £97). For debts over £100 the bailiff charges should be 28% of the first £200 and 5.5% of the balance. Schedule 1 of The Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts (Certificated Bailiffs) Regulations 1993 states that aggregate costs and charges for attending to levy distress and for actually levying distress should not be more than 3 times the above amounts. On a £110 PCN, the debt due to the council rises to £172 so maximum charges should be £144.48 + vat (= £173.38).

In addition, Mr Mustard has seen clamping fees and vehicle removal fees and cancelled towing fees which is how you end up owing an extra £451 (or more). Once your car is removed an extra £30 a night or so will be added for storage.

It is clear that on file #9 that Newlyn were asking for more money than they were due to receive at a time when they had not yet (illegally) clamped the vehicle (which belonged to Motability).

Dealing with bailiffs who have your car in a clamp or a pound is very difficult. Please do what you can to avoid this situation by responding properly to all PCN paperwork.

The government are slowly getting round to bailiff legislation; not a moment too soon.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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