A liability order is a document granted by the Court to the Council. This order gives the Council a number of powers in order to collect any outstanding balance payable. It is not a County Court Judgement and will in no way affect your credit rating. The cost for issuing a liability order is £20.00.
The liability order gives the Council the following powers in order to collect any outstanding debt:
Attachment of earnings/benefits
The Council can contact your employer if you are working or the DWP if you are in receipt of Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee or Universal Credit, instructing them that the debt is to be cleared by deductions from your wages/salary or you Income Support/JSA/ESA/PCG/UC. The amount of deduction is fixed by law. The level of deductions that can be made from your wages/salary can be found here and guidance notes for employers can be found here.
Instruct an Enforcement Agent to collect sums outstanding
If an attachment cannot be made and no satisfactory arrangement for payment has been made, the account could be passed to one of the Council's enforcement agents for collection. If a debt is passed to them for collection, the Council will not then enter into any arrangement for payment. The enforcement agent will administer the case and will usually accept a reasonable payment offer. The enforcement agency will contact the debtor directly and will charge extra costs for their services, which are laid down by law.
What enforcement agents can charge
Enforcement agent fees are fixed. In most cases, if you owe less than £1,500 the fees are:
£75 when your case is sent to the enforcement agent
£235 if you ignore a letter from the enforcement agent and they have to visit you
£110 if they have to take your goods and sell them at auction
You'll still have to pay the enforcement agent for any action they take against you - like storing your goods or using a locksmith. If you owe more than £1,500 you'll also have to pay a percentage of your debt as an additional fee each time an enforcement agent visits your home. In other words substantial fees may be incurred.
You can challenge the enforcement agent if you think they've charged you:
- the wrong fee
- for something they haven't done
If you own your property a charge may be put on it so that if you try and sell it the debt will have to be repaid before the sale can take place. You will incur the legal fee of the application.
We have the power to make you bankrupt if you continue to fail to pay your arrears.
Committal to prison
If we are unable to collect the outstanding debt by other means, the debtor will be summoned back to court to explain to the Magistrates the reasons why they have failed to pay the debt. The Magistrates will then tell the debtor how much they to pay each week or month to the Council. If the debtor does not pay, he or she may well be summoned back to the court and could be sent to prison.