Internet myths about Enforcement Agents

Unfortunately, with enforcement, there is a lot of inaccurate and misleading information posted on the internet often perpetuated by various forums claiming to be an authority on the subject. We have, therefore, introduced this page to highlight (and hopefully correct) the most popular internet myths about civil enforcement.

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If a bailiff ignores a Removal of Implied Right of Access notice he commits trespass.

These notices have their origin with the Freeman on the Land movement and are ignored by all enforcement companies as they have no bearing on their actions. The warrant or writ of control allows a bailiff to visit your property for the purpose of ‘taking control’ of your goods.

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A warrant or liability order must have a court seal and a wet ink signature.

One of the most popular (and inaccurate) Freeman on the Land (FMoTL) theories. Rule 109 (3) of the Magistrate Court Rules 1981 states that where a signature is required on a form or warrant (of control), an electronic signature will satisfy the requirement.

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A warrant of control dies after 12 months.

No, it doesn’t. An enforcement agent is given 12 months from the date of the Notice of Enforcement to either take control of goods or to obtain payment. If he fails to do so, the warrant expires. The local authority (creditor) can make an application to extend the warrant for a further 12 months. Also, if you enter into a payment agreement with the enforcement agent the position is different. The 12 month period begins with the date of default (if one occurs) and not from the date of the Notice of Enforcement.

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The warrant ceases if you pay the fine to HM Court Service/local authority online.

Once the debt has been passed to the enforcement agents, the ‘amount due’ includes enforcement fees. Following a Notice of Enforcement or a personal visit, some people may decide to pay the council or the magistrates court directly believing that they can avoid paying these fees. This does not work. Generally, the local authority will immediately advise the enforcement company that a payment has been received, and the enforcement agency will, in line with legislation allocate that payment in line with the ‘pro-rata’ distribution of payments. Indeed once a warrant has been passed to the enforcement agency, fees become legally due and as confirmed in legislation, the ‘amount outstanding’ includes bailiff fees. In fact enforcement regulations have made it a statutory requirement that all payments are split on a ‘pro-rata’ basis. Accordingly, unless the ‘amount due’ (which includes bailiff fees) is paid in full, the warrant has not been satisfied and enforcement action can legally continue. It needs to be made clear that paying the local authority or the magistrate court direct does not mean that the warrant has been satisfied (or ceased to have an effect). All that it means, is that a part payment has been made. This has been confirmed by the Local Government Ombudsman.