We are not qualified to provide advice to anyone facing enforcement action and we would encourage debtors to seek independent legal advice. There are many advice agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau with the experience to provide the right advice for the right circumstances.
That said the following tips may be helpful:
- Don’t bury your head in the sand – the problem will not go away – the longer you leave it, the worse it will get.
- Do not be tempted to ‘consolidate’ your debts – take professional advice – or you may end up owing even more.
- Check your entitlements – you may have benefits to counter some of your debt.
- Do not ignore court notices – for example, the majority of county court judgments are issued by default because the debtor does not respond.
Dealing with Bailiffs
Do not ignore bailiffs. The bailiff can actually help to resolve a situation which otherwise will inevitably get worse. The ultimate sanction for many debts such as council tax and unpaid criminal fines is a custodial sentence.
This can be avoided by dealing with the bailiff who can, in many cases, help by setting up an arrangement to pay by agreed instalments. However, in order to have an arrangement the bailiff must secure the debt by distraining on goods. This does not mean goods will be removed immediately but it is a process where the bailiff takes legal control of the goods and leaves them in place while you make your payments.
If, however, you default on the payments, the goods are likely to be removed and sold at auction.
The bailiff can provide you with a payment card which allows you to pay at any post office at low cost.
Debtors who cannot immediately pay in full are often advised not to let the bailiff in. While this advice may temporarily prevent the bailiff from doing his or her job, it really doesn’t help your situation and will simply increase your debt.
If you refuse to let the bailiff in (s)he can’t take legal control of goods and can’t therefore, give you a payment arrangement. As the bailiff is duty bound to continue calling until either the debt is paid, an arrangement to pay has been agreed or goods seized and removed for sale, then your refusal to deal with the matter and let the bailiff help you will only serve to increase costs to you.
The duty of the bailiff is to satisfy the warrant in his or her possession. The bailiff does not want to remove goods – it’s time consuming and often hard work! Helps us to help you – don’t ignore us. The quicker you deal with the situation, the less it will cost!