It all started with a debt under £200, the debtor in this case had a couple of PCNs totaling £172, which he failed to pay in time. The council sent this debt to Newlyn for enforcement, which resulted in the addition of a £75 compliance fee to the debt. We all know this fee is added as soon as a debt is passed on to an enforcement company for recovery, and once a debt reaches the enforcement stage, the fee becomes part of the debt regardless of whatever the debtor does. In other words, if a debtor pays the original amount minus the compliance fee, £75 would still be outstanding, so the debt hasn’t been paid and can still be enforced.
This is no different from when councils add an amount for issuing summons when council tax is not paid, or when a claim is issued in the county court and the court fee paid by the claimant becomes part of the outstanding amount. If a debtor does not make arrangements to repay a debt and the creditor has to take further steps to recover it by whatever means, it is only fair that the debtor should be responsible for the costs incurred by the creditor.
As the debtor failed to pay the outstanding amount, the debt was enforced and the debtor’s cars were clamped. The clamps were then removed and the cars moved to a church car park, thinking that would make them immune to removal, the car park being private land not belonging to the debtor. However, in this case, the cars had already been taken into control when they were clamped, so it didn’t matter that they were moved. One of the cars was removed. What started out as a small debt had now become much larger, as both the enforcement and sale stage fees were now added to the £75 outstanding, and there was also the prospect of storage costs to be paid.
Rather than making payment, the debtor issued proceedings for an injunction and also a claim for damages arising from the enforcement action, including some rather extravagant sums for car hire. The result was that the court found the debtor’s conduct to have been unreasonable on numerous counts. Despite being an action in the small claims track where costs are not usually awarded, the court ordered the claimant to pay the defendant’s costs. There is a provision to make a costs order against a party who has behaved unreasonably in the course of proceedings in the small claims track. In this case, costs of £7,000 were ordered against a claimant who had already spent hundreds issuing proceedings and, allegedly, thousands hiring a vehicle, despite having another vehicle of his own. ALL THIS TO AVOID PAYING £75!!!
WHO advised the claimant to pay the council directly to avoid the fee? WHO advised him to apply for an injunction instead of paying the enforcement company to recover his car, and despite the fact that the injunction fee wasn’t much lower than the amount he had to pay to get the car back? And WHO would have advised him to issue an extravagant claim for damages which the claimant was then unable to prove? All this is consistent with the advice that Jason Bennison routinely dishes out on his own websites Dealing with Bailiffs, Beat the Bailiff and Bailiff Help Forum.