Enquiry Form

Council Tax & Bailiffs

AMBROSE V NOTTINGHAM CITY COUNCIL

If you owe Council Tax and have been visited by a bailiff and they have carried out a levy in your home - that is, a bailiff has come into you home and wrote down a list of your goods on a sheet of paper which has been left with you - it could be that this levy does not comply with the Law.

If this is the case, you should ask the Council Tax Recovery Section at your local council to look at your case and decide if it meets the requirements of the Ambrose case.

The Ambrose Judgment has, basically, ruled that, so called "global levies" are irregular and therefore are not binding on debtors regardless of whether or not a Walking Possession Agreement has been signed.

Global levies can be defined as levies that either list some goods by way of example (e.g. Rossendale and their 7 items) or where a more detailed list has been made, but where the inventory/Notice of Distress uses the phrases "and all other goods except those exempt" (or variations on this). The point being, the word "all" and "exempt" as only bailiffs actually know what is or is not exempt from seizure.

HOW WILL I KNOW?

Simple - if the inventory or list of goods left by the bailiff lists only 7 items or less, regardless of what these items are, and on the bottom of the list it says something like "and all other goods on the premises except those exempt or specially exempt by statute", the levy will fail the Ambrose case and will, therefore, be irregular.

IRREGULAR MEANING?

Irregular meaning that the levy is not enforceable against you - in other words, the bailiff cannot remove the goods listed or any other goods you may have and cannot insist that you pay them either at the rate they have told you to pay at or even at the rate you have agreed to pay.

Nor can the bailiffs insist you repay any of their costs.

Put simply, the bailiff has lost all the rights that they got when you let them into the home.

HOW DO I SORT THIS OUT?

Write to the Council Tax Recovery at your local Council and in your letter ask for your debt to be removed from their bailiffs as the levy fails the tests set out in the Ambrose judgment because their agents have carried out an all goods levy - Make sure you enclose a copy of the List or Inventory left with you by the bailiffs - Make it clear you will allow 12 days for a reply. Point out that, you have been advised a failure to comply with this will be grounds to issue a Regulation 46 Complaint in the local Magistrates Court and that you will seek further legal advice over this.

WHAT IF THE COUNCIL REFUSES TO AGREE TO THIS?

Then the next step is to write to the Chief Clerk at your local Magistrates Court and ask for a Summons to be issued against the Council (see suggested letter below). The reason you are aggrieved is simply that the levy does not comply with the Ambrose Judgment issued in the Nottingham Magistrates Court as it is a global seizure.

WHAT NEXT?

The Council will then take legal advice and is likely to withdraw the Warrant almost immediately - If this does not happen, you need to seek further advice, but please do not be worried, it is even then highly unlikely to get to actual Court hearings.

WILL I STILL HAVE TO PAY MY COUNCIL TAX?

Yes - But, if, for example, you receive Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support, the Council should recover your debt by direct deductions from your benefit - If you are working, they can look at attachment to your earnings etc, or if you were paying the bailiffs anyway, simply begin to pay this directly to the Council.

IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL THAT YOU CONTACT THE COUNCIL TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO REPAY THE DEBT - COUNCIL TAX IS A PRIORITY DEBT, WHICH MEANS IN THIS CASE, THE ULTIMATE PENALTY FOR NOT PAYING IS TO BE SENT TO PRISON - YOU COULD EVEN END UP LOSING YOU HOME IF YOU OWN IT AS THE COUNCIL CAN MAKE YOU BANKRUPT.

SO PLEASE, BE AWARE, ALL THIS JUDGMENT MEANS IS THAT FROM HERE ON THE BAILIFFS MUST ACT WITH MORE CAUTION AND CARE, IT DOES NOT MEAN YOUR DEBT WILL BE WRITTEN OFF OR THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY IT!

Suggested letter

The Chief Clerk
Anytown Magistrates Court
Address

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to request that you issue a Summons against --Enter name of City Council-- by virtue of Regulation 46 Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regs 1992.

I am aggrieved by the levy carried out by ......... on ......... because the levy clearly fails to meet the requirements set out in the case of Ann Ambrose -v- Nottingham City Council (Case Number ...).

I enclose a copy of the inventory that was left by ......... following the levy.

I trust this will be sufficient and please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information.

Yours faithfully