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What is enforcement?

Enforcement is the term for using powers to make sure a debt is paid.  These powers are given by a court order.

Laws set out what enforcement agents can do, and what the fees are.

(Under the old laws, enforcement agents were known as bailiffs.)

There are different stages of enforcement:

Non High Court

This includes:
Magistrates’ courts fines
Penalty Charge Notices issued by local authorities
Liability orders issued by local authorities for unpaid council tax

Compliance stage

A letter, called a Notice of Enforcement, is sent to the customer.  (The law uses the word ‘debtor’, but we say customer instead.)

This letter tells the customer who they owe money to, and how much.  It also sets out the fees that can be charged for enforcement.  The letter also includes details of free debt advice that is available. 

Usually, no further action will be taken for at least seven days.  This seven days doesn’t include Sundays or bank holidays. But a court can choose to reduce this waiting time. 

There is a fixed fee for this stage of enforcement.  Further information on fees can be found here. 

Enforcement stage

This is the next stage after the compliance stage.  A case will go to enforcement stage if the debt and compliance fee haven’t been paid.

At this stage, an enforcement agent will visit the customer.  They will try to either collect payment, or take control of goods.  

If the customer is out, an enforcement agent will leave something to say they have visited.

The fees for this stage of enforcement can be found here.   

Sale or disposal stage

When an enforcement agent visits and starts the process to move goods (your belongings) to somewhere they can be sold, more fees apply.  

The fees for this stage of enforcement can be found here. 

High Court

Compliance stage

A letter, called a Notice of Enforcement, is sent to the customer.  (The law uses the word ‘debtor’, but we say customer instead.)

This letter tells the customer who they owe money to, and how much.  It also sets out the fees that can be charged for enforcement.  The letter also includes details of free debt advice that is available. 

Usually, no further action will be taken for at least seven days.  This seven days doesn’t include Sundays or bank holidays. But a court can choose to reduce this waiting time. 

There is a fixed fee for this stage of enforcement.  Further information on fees can be found here. 

First Enforcement stage

The stage when an enforcement agent visits you if you haven’t replied to the Notice of Enforcement, or have asked to make a payment plan.

The fees for this stage of enforcement can be found here.   

Second Enforcement stage

This stage begins if you don’t pay in full or can’t agree a payment plan at the first enforcement stage; or if you don’t keep to a payment plan agreed at first enforcement stage; or if you don’t keep to a controlled goods agreement.

The fees for this stage of enforcement can be found here.   

Sale or disposal stage

When an enforcement agent visits and starts the process to move goods (your belongings) to somewhere they can be sold, more fees apply.  

The fees for this stage of enforcement can be found here. 

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