Friday, September 24, 2010
Reducing payments or suspending a Bailiff's Warrant on a County Court Judgment
WHEN DO I NEED TO MAKE THIS KIND OF APPLICATION? Reducing payments or suspending a Bailiffs Warrant is done by debtors who fail to comply with a County Court Judgment. This means that either the County Court already made an order for you to pay a particular amount each month but you cannot afford it or your creditor issued a "Warrant of Execution" and you have been visited by the County Court Bailiff. Making this application often requires two sets of fees to be paid but that should not be the case. Inform the authorities immediately if you have been charged illegally. APPLYING TO REDUCE AN INSTALLMENT ORDER Once your creditor take a court action, naturally, your debt will balloon into something that you may not be able to afford. To deal with this, you must apply for a reduction of an Installment Order, which is also done in court. You will file an N245 form on your local County Court and pay £30.00 for the processing of your application. Some circumstances, however, may allow you to file the application without having to pay any fee. These include being on a low income status and enjoying several benefits. One good alternative to make your creditor agree on a reduced payments is to talk to him directly. Without you going to court, you are obviously saving not just money but time and effort as well. APPLYING TO SUSPEND A WARRANT OF EXECUTION A "Warrant of Execution" is issued to debtors who failed to pay their financial obligations set by the court. This can be applied by the creditor against you, allowing a bailiff to break into your house and take any of your possessions, which will be given up for auction. A notice from the bailiffs saying they intend to visit will actually tell you that a "Warrant of Execution" has been filed against you. But you do not have the responsibility to let the bailiffs inside your home so fpr as long as you refuse their entry, this is quite easy to manage. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LET THE BAILIFF IN As mentioned, you do not have the responsibility to let the bailiffs inside your home. They cannot force you to allow them unless you let them the first time. It is also unlawful for the bailiffs to break into your house. WHAT IF I HAVE ALREADY LET THE BAILIFF INTO MY HOME? Allowing the bailiff to go inside your home the first time gives them the ticket to go back at any other time of the day to take your things. If this happens, the only thing that you can do is to keep guard on what the bailiffs are allowed to do and what are not. Naturally, they cannot take away basic domestic needs such as clothing, bedding, or furniture. They also cannot take equipments that you use in your profession or vocation. Usually, the bailiffs do not take things on first visit. They will just inspect your house, list the goods they can take away from you, and have you sign a "Walking Possession Agreement". On their next visit, whether it's a peaceful or harsh one, they will take away any or all of those listed on your agreement with them. Regardless if you have aleady signed an agreement with the bailiff, you can still file a suspension of the warrant in court to protect your valuables. WHAT IF THERE ARE NO GOODS TO TAKE? If the bailiffs decide on their first visit that your goods are not valuable enough to cover their costs for coming, they will go back to the court, return the warrant, and leave a notice that your goods have insufficient value. They should not take any further action from there. GOODS ON HIRE PURCHASE/CONDITIONAL SALE Note that the bailiffs can only take things or goods that belong to you. These include those that you co-own with a partner. They cannot count the goods that are owned by other people. You must keep substantial documents that will prove different ownership of such goods so the bailiffs will not be able to take them away. Also, the bailiffs cannot take away goods that are on hire purchase or conditional sale. If you have these things, you better keep copies of your agreements and show them to the bailiffs. Sometimes, however, the bailiffs choose to take away goods with such nature, especially if they feel that they can sell it more than the amount you owed to the hire purchase/conditional sale company. But this rarely happens. HOW DO I APPLY TO SUSPEND THE 'WARRANT OF EXECUTION'? As mentioned earlier, suspending the warrant can be filed in court through the form N245. The County Court must accept your application regardless whether the bailiff already visited, managed to break into your home, or not. The bailiffs can continue bugging you around until your application is approved. FILLING IN THE N245 APPLICATION FORM It is important that you sort out your personal budget carefully upon filing for a suspended warrant. All your income as well as your expenses will be needed to fill the N245 form. Basically, you will want the court to agree in a specific amount that you claim you can only afford. You can only make this claim acceptable if you have the necessary documents that will prove to the court that you have enough expenses to mind at home to be able to offer a higher amount. Once you make the application, the bailiffs cannot take away any of your goods. It is permissible, however, that they call you or even pay you visits. They can even list down your valuables that are good for auction also called levying but they cannot take any of those things. Not yet. FEES Applying to suspend the warrant usually charges £30.00. You can waive this amount, however, especially if you are on low income or on certain benefits. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? After completing the required information on the form N245, you must submit it to the County Court and pay the necessary fees. Your creditor will receive a copy of your application so he can decide whether to agree or not on your terms. If your creditor agrees, he will send a notice to the court which will then document the terms and send you the details. If your creditor does not agree, the court will decide on the terms of payments on merits of the information you have written on your application. If your creditor objects to your application altogether, the court will call a hearing so the District Judge will know what to do. In this hearing, you need to explain why you have applied to suspend the warrant and what are the grounds that you feel will make the court agree with you. On the other hand, if you do not agree with the court's terms in the order, you can ask for a hearing to explain your reasons. You will use an N244 form to ask the court reconsider its decision. This form should be filed within 14 days that you receive the notice of order. At this stage, you should no longer be paying anymore fees. At the hearing, you can bring a copy of your personal budget to strengthen your claim that you cannot afford the amount set by the court. COUNTY COURT FEES DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR AN APPLICATION IN THE COUNTY COURT? Usually, a fee of £30.00 is charged for those who applies for a suspended warrant. The court, however, awards exemptions to those who are worthy of them. To apply for it, you must file an EX160 or the "Application for a fee exemption or remission". This application should go with your main application. If the court agrees that you will be exempted based on certain cicumstances, you no longer have to pay a fee. If, however, you have already paid a fee but you have proven to be deserving of an exemption, you will have to apply for a refund within six months. EXEMPTIONS Exemptions to pay court fees are awarded to those who are on income support or on Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA). You can ask the court to give you exemptions by presenting the necessary documents that will prove you are getting any of those benefits. Those who are on tax credit may also apply for an exemption to pay the fee for as long as they are on child tax credit or they have received the disability or severe disability element in their working tax credit. Either way, they must have an annual gross income taken into account for working tax credit that is not more than £14,600. To qualify for the exemption, applicants must present their tax credit award notice. If you do not qualify based on both cases, you can ask for the fee you paid to be remitted or waived by rule of remission. REMISSIONS If paying the fee for your application will cause you "undue financial hardship", the court may waive the amount you have shed. To do this, you must file an EX160 form stating the circumstances or benefits you have that does not automatically exempt you from paying the fees. You must support your claim with documents that will prove your incapacity to pay. The court may remit all or part of your paid fees depending on what they feel you can afford.