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(page updated 5 October 2019)
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MERSEY GATEWAY AND PENALTIES - STAGE 5 - "BAILIFFS"

  • This page describes the process if it has gone past the TE3 Recovery Order stage and the registered keeper of the vehicle has received a 'Notice of Enforcement'.

  • What The Notices Look Like
  • Background
  • How To Deal With Notice Of Enforcements Or Threats By Enforcement Officers.
  • Other Sources Of General Advice
  • Complaints

    What the notices looks like

    Notice of Enforcement. This is the first document that you will get from Marston.
    Front side-

    NoE

    Back side-

    NoE

    Reminder letter. If you ignore the Notice of Enforcement then you will get one of these.

    NoE

    Warrant of Control. If the bailiffs turn up at your door, this is what they may show you. It is only on a computer tablet and easily forged.

    NoE

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    Background

  • We believe that the tolls and enforcement action are unlawful in numerous ways. But the politicians, authorities and firms involved don't care. In particular the courts and police do not care, so you have to respond as if what they are doing is lawful.

  • If a vehicle keeper has not received any of the various documents issued at earlier stages OR has done nothing to fight them OR something has gone wrong, then the vehicle keeper will eventually receive a 'Notice of Enforcement'.
    At this Notice of Enforcement stage the amount payable for each £2 toll that Merseyflow say was not paid (or was paid late) is a staggering £145.

  • Though the bridge opened in October 2017, it seems that Merseyflow only brought in the recovery agents at the beginning of December 2018. The firm hired by Merseyflow to get people to pay this exorbitant amount and failing that to seize their goods or vehicles is Marston. They are a firm of civil enforcement agents, commonly called "bailiffs", though Marston seems to not directly employ the people who go to people's homes. Marston moved to the stage of visiting and knocking on people's doors about 12th December 2018. They mainly operate by scaring people and wheel clamping cars, rather than seizing goods.

  • Some people claim that this can not happen without a County Court or High Court judgement. In fact it does happen. The law for persecuting drivers who are alleged to have not paid a parking or tolls penalty is different from other 'debt'. There are so many drivers, who the government and the local authorities see as their helpless victims, that for parking and tolls they dispensed with the need for proper courts.
    The computer system at the Traffic Enforcement Centre churns out tens of thousands of Recovery Orders every day. Most of these are not paid and then Merseyflow applies for a "Warrant of Control" - which is automatically granted. The warrants authorise Merseyflow to bring in Marston who then issue the 'Notice of Enforcement'. The legal basis for this is explained here, we believe that the rules are not being followed but they seem to be able to ignore the rules.

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    How to deal with Notice of Enforcements or threats by enforcement officers

    1. DO NOT PANIC
    2. IF YOU ARE VULNERABLE THEN TELL THEM
    3. COMPLETE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE FORMS
    4. KEEP THEM OUT OF YOUR HOME
    5. BE AWARE OF WHAT THEY CAN AND CAN NOT TAKE IF THEY DO GET IN TO YOUR HOME
    6.1 TRY TO PREVENT THEM FROM TAKING YOUR CAR
    6.2 TRANSFER THE OWNERSHIP OF THE CAR (OR OTHER VEHICLE)

    1. DO NOT PANIC

    The main thing to bear in mind is that they will try and bully you and will lie and exaggerate their powers and the consequences of not giving in to their demands, so try to avoid any contact with them. Most of all - do not let them into your home and do not agree to anything

    These people get 99% of their money through threats and scaring people rather than actually seizing property. Usually the only item of your property that is really at risk is your car, though there are ways that you can try and protect even that.

    If the bailiff is intimidating you in any way or you feel at risk, then we used to suggest calling the Police on 999. The Police seem to only turn up if it is the bailiffs asking for help, but call them anyway.

    The law allows the enforcers to pursue you between 6 AM and 9 PM, Monday to Saturday. Their favourite time seems to be early morning, when you are most likely to be in and most likely to be at a disadvantage because you may have just woken up.

    They are less likely to lie or intimidate you if you have a witness or tell them that you are recording what they say.

    They are supposed to have identification. Ask to see it and take a picture.

    They are also supposed to have a 'warrant of execution'. So again, ask to see it and take a picture.

    2. IF YOU ARE VULNERABLE THEN TELL THEM

    Though the law is generally on the side of those who are harassing you for hundreds or thousands of £s because they allege you did not pay one or more £2 tolls, there is some protection for the 'vulnerable'.

    If you think this applies to you then tell Merseyflow, preferably by email - info@merseyflow.co.uk, that you consider that you are vulnerable and give them details. Tell them to cease recovery action
    It is of course embarrassing to give personal details to the firms that are persecuting you, but the alternative is worse.
    How you word this is up to you, but this is a possible template-
    "This letter serves to notify both Merseyflow and Marston that I am a vulnerable person.I have been advised to place you on notice that Merseyflow should take control of my case in accordance with paragraphs 7, 16 and 30 of the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014.

    The details of my vulnerability are xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

    I do not anticipate any change in circumstances in the foreseeable future and any further action by Marston will be considered to be harassment. I am copying this letter to my MP who I trust will ensure that Merseyflow do not continue to use enforcement agents to demand money from me.

    Please confirm that all enforcement action against me by Marston will now cease.

    Your sincerely xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Copy the email to your local MP You can find out who your MP is and their email address at this site.

    If you are contacted by Marston, or people that say they represent them, then tell them that you have notified Merseyflow that you are vulnerable. Do not discuss the details with them or tell them anything else. Try to ignore any threats.

    There is no clear definition of the vulnerable, but it may include-
    the disabled,
    the seriously ill,

    the unemployed,
    those with mental health difficulties,

    those with children or who are pregnant - especially if they are a single parent,
    those who are under 18,

    those who are over 65,
    those who do not speak or read English well,

    those who have someone close to them who is seriously ill or has recently died,
    those who have suffered a recent stressful event such as being a crime victim,
    If they continue to harass you or demand money, then do not talk to them, instead complain again to Merseyflow - and copy the complaint to your MP.

    Some advice on web, specifically related to vulnerable persons-
    Beat the Bailiffs - Vulnerable Person Notice.

    Dealing with Bailiffs - Bailiffs and Vulnerable People.

    3. COMPLETE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE FORMS

    If you have not submitted a TE9 (Witness statement) and TE7 (Out of Time application) to the Traffic Enforcement Centre then do so straight away. (See how to do this on our Stage 4 page)
    (You will probably need to submit the TE7 as well as the TE9, because if you have received a Notice of Enforcement then you have missed the normal deadline for submitting a TE9.)

    Tell Merseyflow, preferably by email - info@merseyflow.co.uk, that you have submitted the forms. Tell them to cease recovery action. Copy the email to your local MP You can find out who your MP is and their email address at this site.

    Tell Marston or the people that say that they represent them that you have submitted the TE forms and have notified Merseyflow. Do not tell them anything else.

    If you had already submitted TE forms to the Traffic Enforcement Centre before you got the Notice of Recovery then the same applies- tell Marston or the people that say that they represent them.

    If they continue to harass you or demand money, then do not talk to them, instead complain to Merseyflow - and copy the complaint to your MP.

    At one stage Merseyflow seem to have considered late representations, now they seem to refuse them, but if for some reason you can not submit the TE forms, then try to make a 'representation' to Merseyflow even though technically it is too late (See Stage One)

    Even if you are not able to complete any of the forms, then the rest of our advice still applies.

    4. KEEP THEM OUT OF YOUR HOME

    You should regard a bailiff in the same way as you would regard any unwanted visitor or trespasser. When they first call, they can not enter into your home for any reason unless you invite them in OR you leave a door unlocked.
    So do NOT let them in, whatever they may tell you.
    If you let them in once then our politicians have decided that if the bailiffs come back, then they can force their way in with Police help. If you need to talk to them, then do it outside with your doors locked or speak to them through a letterbox or open window (they are no longer allowed to enter through windows).

    5. BE AWARE OF WHAT THEY CAN AND CAN NOT TAKE IF THEY DO GET IN TO YOUR HOME

    If you follow our other advice then the bailiffs can not take anything because despite their lies and tricks you will not have let them into your home. But if they do get in and say that they intend to seize any of your goods, then bear in mind the amount that the goods are sold for may not even recover the costs and so your 'debt' 'owed' to Merseyflow may not reduce.
    There are in any case items that the bailiffs are not supposed to take-
  • anything that is not yours - it may belong to your partner or children or parents and so on,

  • anything that you do not fully own because there is a loan or hire purchase agreement,

  • essential items - clothes, beds and bedding, a table and chairs,

  • white goods such as washing machines, fridges, cookers and microwaves

  • phones, whether mobile or wired,

  • soft furniture that does not have fire safety labels,

  • TVs if they are fixed to the wall by a bracket.

  • tools or computer equipment if needed for work or study and worth less than £ 1,350.

  • it is a grey area but data protection rules may stop them from taking anything which has personal data on it.
  • These are the statutory rules which show in more detail what can not be taken-
    The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 - regulation 4.

    6.1 TRY TO PREVENT THEM FROM TAKING YOUR CAR

    Your car or other vehicle is the most likely target of the 'bailiffs'. They will at first clamp it. Almost everyone yields to their demands at this stage without the vehicle actually being taken away.

    Be aware that they will ignore the rules and will lie to you about their powers. They may tell you that they will track you with ANPR equipment or get the help of the Police (the Police will protect the bailiff while they clamp or take away your car, but any help to track the vehicle would be corrupt). If possible have a witness or tell them that you are recording what they say.

    These are the real rules-
  • They can seize your car or other vehicle if it is on the highway, public property or your own property such as in your driveway. They may bring in the Police to stop you from physically preventing them clamping or taking the vehicle. They are not supposed to climb over a gate to get onto your driveway, but they can open an unlocked gate.

  • If your vehicle has been clamped, then it is illegal to remove it. Of course as the whole enforcement process is illegal, the clamping must be illegal, but the police and the courts will ignore that. If you search the web then you will find "How to remove clamp legally" videos, such as this one , we do not know whether these are valid or not, but they certainly require expertise.

  • They can NOT take your vehicle if it is parked on someone else's private property such as a neighbour's driveway.

  • They can NOT take the vehicle if there is something blocking its removal, such as another vehicle.

  • They can NOT take the vehicle if you do not own it (e.g. it is a company car).

  • They can NOT take the vehicle if you need it for work and it is worth less than £ 1,350.

  • They can NOT take the vehicle if you have a Blue Badge or it is a Motability vehicle.

  • They can NOT take the vehicle in the unlikely event that you live in it e.g. a caravan or camper-van.

  • It is a grey area but generally they should NOT take the vehicle if it is financed by a loan or there is a balance on a 'log book' loan. Unfortunately the people working for Merseyflow think that they can clamp anything.
    If you are expecting bailiffs then you can put a note on the windscreen or dashboard pointing out that you do not own the vehicle. Note that the bailiff should anyway know that you do not own the vehicle outright, as they can do a 'hpi' check, but they may not bother or just lie to you.

    You should also contact the finance company and ask them what is their policy if they are approached by enforcement agents trying to recover road user charge penalties. With any luck the finance company will say that they will not co-operate with the enforcement agents. If instead they say that they will allow the vehicle to be seized and sold, then ask to speak to a manager and remind them that under data privacy laws the lenders have no authority to disclose details about your finance agreement including what the balance on the loan is. You can also point out that the penalties are illegal. With any luck the finance company will then be on your side rather than that of the enforcers with their tricks and illegal demands.

  • There are various tips on the web for trying to stop them from taking your car. We do not guarantee these will work, but they include-
  • Sit in the vehicle, as they can not move it if you are in it. Unfortunately one of our members was arrested by Cheshire Police for the 'crime' of sitting in her car.

  • Keep the vehicle locked with the steering lock engaged. It will not stop it from being clamped, but will make it more difficult to tow it away.

  • Block the vehicle in. Again it will not stop it from being clamped, but will make it more difficult to tow it away.

  • If the vehicle is on your property, then remove the implied right of access. This is far from clear cut, as to whether the enforcement officers should or will have any regard for this.
  • Some advice on web, specifically related to cars-
    Beat the Bailiffs - Car clamped.

    Citizens Advice - Stopping bailiffs taking your vehicle.

    6.2 TRANSFER THE OWNERSHIP OF THE CAR (OR OTHER VEHICLE)

    This is a drastic step, but IF you own the car AND it is worth more than £1,350 AND you can not always keep it somewhere safe from the bailiffs, THEN you should think about transferring ownership of the vehicle.

    The law is not absolutely clear cut, but it is generally agreed that your car and other property remains yours to dispose of until the bailiffs 'take control'. For a vehicle, the bailiffs take control by clamping it, though they may instead somehow have persuaded you to sign a 'controlled goods agreement'. So if it has not been clamped AND you have not signed a controlled goods agreement, then you can transfer the ownership.

    The transfer would have to be done properly in case there is a claim by the bailiffs that the sale was a sham. Obviously if the sale means that the car is taken by the new owner and is no longer at your property then there is no problem. But if the car is still to be kept on your property, then there is a risk that the bailiffs will say that the car really belongs to you if the vehicle registration and insurance documents are not in the name of the new owner.

    Note that by itself the vehicle registration is not proof of ownership. It is supposed to be the 'keeper' of the vehicle who is registered. The keeper is not defined but is assumed (unless it is a company or hire vehicle) to be the person who is the main user of the vehicle. Also note that it is the registered keeper at the time of the crossing who is liable for any PCN or subsequent recovery action. So it may already be that someone in the household is the main user and / or owner of the vehicle but are not the registered keeper. In this case it is even more obvious that you would change the name of the registered keeper of the vehicle.

    Government link for changing the registered keeper.

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    OTHER SOURCES OF GENERAL ADVICE

  • A document that we produced in May 2018 which shows in detail the process and what the bailiffs can and can not do

  • Apart from our own Facebook group, there are these, both 'closed' so you have to join them, note that much of the advice will not apply to enforcement of Gateway 'debts'-
    Beat the Bailiffs and the Banks - group page on Facebook

    Beat the Bailiffs - group page on Facebook.

  • Advice from the web-

    Bailiff Advice Online.

    Bankruptcy Advice Online - Marston Bailiffs.

    Beat the Bailiffs - Council PCN Bailiff ** recommended **.

    Choose.co - Threatened by bailiff action? What to do .

    Clear Debt.co - Know your rights: Bailiffs

    Credit fix.co - Bailiffs and you : what can they actually do?

    Dealing with Bailiffs.co - home page ** recommended**

    Government - Bailiff powers when they visit your home

    Ministry of Justice - The 'standards' that bailiffs are supposed to follow.

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    COMPLAINTS

    If you complain then we suggest that you complain to Merseyflow, preferably by email - info@merseyflow.co.uk . Copy the email to your local MP You can find out who your MP is and their email address at this site.

    If you want to complain to other bodies-
    Civil Enforcement Association - Complaints (this is a a trade body run by the people you are complaining about!)

    Local Government Ombudsman- Bailiffs - Make a Complaint (does not seem to have any sympathy for those affected by tolls)

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