Help! Court and bailifs fees – can we avoid or dispute?

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Bristolian
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Joined: 24 Nov 2017 00:02

#1 Help! Court and bailifs fees – can we avoid or dispute?

Post by Bristolian » 24 Nov 2017 00:24

Please help with advice! We have a bit of a situation going on :( We’re a shared house of 4 and with changes of people, only 1 of 4 people named on the council tax bill (and not the primary person) still lives at the address. We get so much mail through for person ‘N’ who no longer lives here and we don’t have a forwarding address so it all gets thrown out and unfortunately important letters for us have been missed. I thought my housemate had been going in every month or so and paying the amounts but turns out he's forgot to for some time (he's dyslexic and disorganised). I'll get a direct debit set up next year so this doesn't happen again.

A few weeks ago by chance I noticed a letter was written to ‘N’ and others and so opened it – it was a 1st Nov 17 letter from the Bristol Magistrates Court demanding £525 council tax remaining owed for this year and adding an extra £103 in for court fees. The letter states we were summoned to appear on the 29th Nov “to show cause why a liability order should not be made against you, unless the total amount including costs is paid before this date.” I interpreted the letter to mean we had until the 29th to get it sorted and fully intended to but needed a bit of time to get the money together as it’s a lot in one go. I hadn’t contacted them yet but I hadn’t expected anything further to happen till then.

I swear we updated the council earlier in the year with the names of the people living here but they still are sending letters to the old names, which have probably mostly been thrown out unread amoungst the many for ‘N’. I don’t at all mind paying the £528 council tax itself but wondered if we could dispute the £103 court cost on the basis if the council had correctly updated and addressed the letter we would have seen and paid the installments due so it’s partly their mistake. Does this sound possible?

Surprisngly and concerningly they haven’t left us to the 29th to pay though and bailifs from Marston Holdings came round today. If they’ve written to us previously it would have been under person ‘N’s name and so hasn’t been read. I was out at the time (and haven’t spoken to whichever of my housemates answered the door) but we have a bailif’s Removal Notice written to ‘N’ demanding money for the council and the amount has now gone up to £799 including extra costs from them.

I plan to go in to the council office on the court letter tomorrow, pay the £628 the letter says is owed and try and explain the situation and their partial blame for not updating the names. I’ll then call the bailifs and explain and dispute their extra fees.

If I pay the £628 for the council tax and court fees can we get out of paying the extra £171 the bailifs ask for? Any advice? The bailifs letter is addressed to person 'N' only who no longer lives here if this helps us get out of it at all?

Can they actually remove property from our address or can we prevent this?

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Schedule 12
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#2 Re: Help! Court and bailifs fees – can we avoid or dispute?

Post by Schedule 12 » 24 Nov 2017 10:31

Bristolian wrote:
24 Nov 2017 00:24
Please help with advice! We have a bit of a situation going on :( We’re a shared house of 4 and with changes of people, only 1 of 4 people named on the council tax bill
You have posted ths enqiry under Council Tax. Your post title suggests a court fine.

Houses of multiple occupancy tenants to not attract council tax. The law was changed in 2006 because it was difficult for councils to collect because tenants are hard to trace when they move. The landlord is liable.



(and not the primary person) still lives at the address. We get so much mail through for person ‘N’ who no longer lives here and we don’t have a forwarding address so it all gets thrown out and unfortunately important letters for us have been missed. I thought my housemate had been going in every month or so and paying the amounts but turns out he's forgot to for some time (he's dyslexic and disorganised). I'll get a direct debit set up next year so this doesn't happen again.

Your housemates financial affairs are not your concern.



A few weeks ago by chance I noticed a letter was written to ‘N’ and others and so opened it – it was a 1st Nov 17 letter from the Bristol Magistrates Court demanding £525 council tax remaining owed for this year and adding an extra £103 in for court fees. The letter states we were summoned to appear on the 29th Nov
"we". Is this your housemate, or is it addressed to you?


“to show cause why a liability order should not be made against you, unless the total amount including costs is paid before this date.” I interpreted the letter to mean we had until the 29th to get it sorted and fully intended to but needed a bit of time to get the money together as it’s a lot in one go. I hadn’t contacted them yet but I hadn’t expected anything further to happen till then.

I swear we updated the council earlier in the year with the names of the people living here but they still are sending letters to the old names,
If its not addressed to you, you have nothing to worry about.






which have probably mostly been thrown out unread amoungst the many for ‘N’. I don’t at all mind paying the £528 council tax itself

Why pay someone elses council tax?


but wondered if we could dispute the £103 court cost on the basis if the council had correctly updated and addressed the letter we would have seen and paid the installments due so it’s partly their mistake. Does this sound possible?
Its not your debt so any energy disputing the court fee is wasted.

On that note, there is case law, Nicholson vs. LB Haringey which ruled a council must show evidence it paid the sum of £103 to obtain the liability order before it can pass it on to a debtor as part of the liability order amount.



Surprisngly and concerningly they haven’t left us to the 29th to pay though and bailifs from Marston Holdings came round today. If they’ve written to us previously it would have been under person ‘N’s name and so hasn’t been read. I was out at the time (and haven’t spoken to whichever of my housemates answered the door) but we have a bailif’s Removal Notice written to ‘N’ demanding money for the council and the amount has now gone up to £799 including extra costs from them.

I plan to go in to the council office on the court letter tomorrow, pay the £628 the letter says is owed and try and explain the situation and their partial blame for not updating the names. I’ll then call the bailifs and explain and dispute their extra fees.

If I pay the £628 for the council tax and court fees can we get out of paying the extra £171 the bailifs ask for? Any advice? The bailifs letter is addressed to person 'N' only who no longer lives here if this helps us get out of it at all?

Can they actually remove property from our address or can we prevent this?
The bailiff can only take control of goods that belong to "N". Paragraph 10 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

In any case, you live in a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) so the bailiff's chances of recovering anything is hopeless. The debtor is not even there.
I'm not a solicitor, but I work as a paralegal for solicitors bringing cases involving non-compliant enforcement action.

Author: dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk

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Bristolian
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Joined: 24 Nov 2017 00:02

#3 Re: Help! Court and bailifs fees – can we avoid or dispute?

Post by Bristolian » 24 Nov 2017 19:30

Thanks for the reply!

It turned out to be a false alarm thankfully. I took the bailiffs to be relating to us being overdue with the council tax but it's actually for unrelated debts of 'N'. I've spoken to the baliffs and am going to email them through a copy of our tennancy agreement showing he no longer lives here and that should be the end of it.

I spoke to the council too and will be sorting out getting the names changed and paying the money. Regardless of the law we'll be paying the council tax as we always have, if we tried to get the landlord to pay it he'd only put our rent up for the same amount (or potentially take the opportunity to increase it even more).

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