Author Topic: "a huge extortion racket”  (Read 1115 times)

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Offline Esinem

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"a huge extortion racket”
« on: 11 March, 2012, 11:46:46 PM »
Austin Mitchell MP in March 2007 where he was claimed that the Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts Order was “producing a huge extortion racket” with local authorities “colluding with cheating bailiffs to impose huge and excessive charges that are then justified by lies and enforced by bullying”.

Who'd have thought it! :o  Full text:


 


 
                       Consultation Paper on Bailiff Reform.


In May 2011, I wrote a Newsletter concerning the proposed Consultation Paper on bailiff reform which was due to be released in July 2011. Unfortunately this was delayed and it was not until February 17th 2012 that this Consultation Paper was finally published and there will now be a statutory 12 week period in which public responses can be made.

This Consultation has been ongoing for around 5 years and a few days ago, I was reminded of the infamous “witching hour” speech in the House of Commons by Austin Mitchell MP in March 2007 where he was claimed that the Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts Order was “producing a huge extortion racket” with local authorities “colluding with cheating bailiffs to impose huge and excessive charges that are then justified by lies and enforced by bullying”.

Interestingly, he also said that the present structure is based on the old fashioned view that bailiffs should distrain on goods and that the emphasis should instead be on getting the debt paid. On the matter of a regulator...he said that “cowboys need a sheriff” .....“the mafia cannot be regulated by the mafia” and that “crooks need a rule maker”

He also confirmed that the government had begun a consultation process in January (2007). Five years have passed since then and frankly, this delay should never have been allowed to happen. From the many questions raised on the Consumer Action Group forum it is clear that many bailiffs are acting in a deplorable manner and charging fees that are not in accordance with statue law. On 13th January 2012, the advice and enforcement sector were surprised to receive notification that the Ministry of Justice had updated their National Standards for Enforcement Agents. The changes appeared to have been rushed and personally, I believe that the revised Standards are not sufficient.   

The original National Standards from 2002 had been introduced after consulting with 16 organisations. In considering the recent changes, it would seem that the Ministry of Justice sought views from just 2 organisations!! Since its release there has been a lot of criticism from both the advice and enforcement sectors and thankfully, the Ministry of Justice have realised that this was wrong and the first part of the Consultation Paper is seeking suggestions for proposed changes!! 

This Consultation is of vital importance if there is to be real change to this industry and the public cannot let this opportunity be lost. Consumer Action Group intends to respond formally to the Consultation in May and in doing so; will be taking into consideration comments made by the public on the forum. We would therefore urge you to visit the link at the end of this Newsletter.

The Consultation Paper consists of 203 pages. It has been split into 9 Chapters and I will be writing a weekly Newsletter regarding each Chapter as follows:
 

Chapter 3: Non regulatory options: Questions 1-3

This Chapter deals mainly with the National Standards for Enforcement Agents (NSEA) and the Government are seeking views on the contents of the NSEA and in particular; whether you agree with the contents and if not, to supply proposals for inclusion or argument against inclusion. A separate Newsletter has been issued today regarding this Chapter and views and comments would be welcome. A link can be found at the end of this newsletter.


Chapter 4: Clarifying the law: Questions 4-32

This Chapter is of vital importance and can be demonstrated by the following headings and the numbers of questions!!   

Force against a person
Forced Entry
General Power of Force
Prior Judicial authority to force entry
Entry into property
Goods which may be taken.
Exempt Goods
Controlled Goods agreement
Notices
Inventory
Vulnerability
Proposed fee scale

Thankfully, under this Chapter, the Government have confirmed that a bailiff may not use force against a person for the purpose of conducting a levy against goods for a civil debt. However, this Chapter needs to be read very carefully indeed.

In the meantime, on the forum there are sub headings where views would be welcome regarding Exempt Goods and Defining Vulnerability. 


Chapter 5: Costs of Enforcement Rated Services: Questions 33-45

Unless the fees are set at a fair rate, complaints will continue. For the collection of council tax, it must be understood that a 1st visit fee of £24.50 was set many years ago and common sense alone would dictate that this low figure cannot in any way cover the cost involved and inevitably, fees must rise. Once again, this Chapter is vitally important and a Newsletter dedicated to Chapter 5 will be issued shortly


Chapter 6: Regulatory Regime: Questions 46-49

This Chapter will be very disappointing to many as the Government confirm that they do not wish to place burdens upon the enforcement industry and therefore, they will not be appointing an independent regulator. Under the fee structure review paper Alex Dehayen has commented that “careful and considered implementation of the proposed fee structure, supported by appropriate regulation is vital to the fee structure’s success”.

Again, a separate Newsletter regarding the Chapter will be issued shortly. In the meantime; views and comments from the public would be welcome on the forum and the link to the sub heading regarding regulation of the bailiff industry can be found below.


Chapter 7: Competence requirement: Questions 50-52

This short Chapter addresses the matter of professional qualifications, training etc and at this moment in time, I cannot see that there is anything further to add to the recommendations as outlined.


Chapter 8: Remedies and Complaints Handling: Question 53

Again, this Chapter is a very important one and without an independent regulatory body, concerns must be raised as to how complaints are to be handled. There is currently the provision that a debtor may make a complaint about a certificated bailiff by way of a Form 4 Complaint. However, such complaints are fraught with difficulty and it has been known for large costs orders to be made against the complainant by the court.  A separate Newsletter will also be issued shortly regarding this important Chapter.


Chapter 9: High Court and County Court Jurisdiction: Question 54.

At present, all county court judgements under £600 may only be enforced by a county court bailiff and the amount of the judgement increases by £100 if the creditor requests a warrant. Judgements over £600 can be “transferred up” for a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) to enforce. The consultation paper is seeking views on whether all judgements....irrespective of the value....should be enforced by an HCEO. This will be discussed at a later stage but it is important to note that if the proposed fee scale for high court debts is imposed, this would add a fee of not less than £750 to a CCJ.

Personally, I have very serious concerns at this proposal and although a Newsletter will be issued shortly regarding this last Chapter, a sub heading is already on the forum where views and comments would be welcome.

Once again, this Consultation is of vital importance and Consumer Action Group will be responding formally to the Consultation in May and in doing so; will be taking into consideration comments made by the public on the forum. We would therefore urge you to visit the links below:

Thank you for taking the time to read this Newsletter. A further newsletter regarding Chapter 3 of the consultation paper will be issued next week. 

Tomtubby


There will not be another opportunity to have good bailiff law and to protect vulnerable debtors from aggressive bailiffs and this consultation will give the public the opportunity to influence change.

You can submit your response to the consultation on-line HERE


There is a new forum to discuss the  implications of the new proposals  and how we should respond to the consultation HERE

There are 6 sub-forums under the following headings:

Amendments to the National Standards for Enforcement Agents

Discussions regarding the proposed fee scales

Vulnerable groups and defining "vulnerability"
Discussions regarding "exempt items" and time and dates of visits
Proposals regarding High Court Enforcement debts
Discussions regarding a Regulatory Body/Complaints procedure




If you want more help, advice or even just some moral support then come to The Consumer Action Group website where we offer help on pretty well every consumer problem COMPLETELY FREE.

 

                                                                                                                             
 
   
   






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