FAQs for Customers

These FAQs are aimed at customers who have received notification of a debt. If you are a client looking for information about our services, click here:

FAQs for Clients

My Debt

What is this debt about?

We collect a variety of debts, including Council Tax, Non-Domestic Rates and Penalty Charge Notices (also known as PCNs) for local authorities (councils).

I don’t think I owe this debt. How can I dispute it?

In respect of Council Tax and Non Domestic Rates we are not able to assist in disputes of this type. You must contact the council direct if you think you do not owe them money. In respect of Penalty Charge Notices contact us by telephone immediately or send us a letter to explain.

What if I pay part of the debt?

Enforcement action will continue unless the debt is paid in full including all costs unless you have made a payment arrangement and are sticking to it.

My ex-partner and I are both named on the liability order and I have paid half the debt. Why are you still pursuing me?

Joint and Several Liability is where the debt is in more than one persons’ name. Each person named under the liability order may be pursued for the whole debt. Even if you pay half the debt we may still have to take control of your goods for the rest.

Can the enforcement agent take my goods if I won’t sign anything?

Yes. The regulations do not require your signature or co-operation for goods to be removed or sold.

What can the Council do with a case if the enforcement agent sends it back to them uncollected?

If we are not going to take further enforcement agent action the Council has several options.

Are you really allowed to take money from my wages?

Yes. Regulation 37 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, as amended, allows us to attach your earnings so that your employer has to take a payment from your wages each week or month and send it to us on behalf of the council. Some councils ask us to do this for them.

I think I may be considered vulnerable

If you think you are vulnerable we would encourage you to contact us. All our staff are trained to advise individuals who may require additional support.

Where can I get free debt advice?

AdviceUK, National Debtline, Money Advice Service, Citizens Advice, Gov.uk and StepChange. Click 'Read More' for links.

I have received a visit from an agent regarding my sundry debt

Some visits are made by our agents called Credit Security Limited. If you have paperwork from them contact them at: Credit Security Limited The Old Court House High Street Whitchurch Buckinghamshire HP22 4JS Telephone: 0845 122 2975 www.creditsecurity.co.uk

What happens if I don't pay this sundry debt?

If you do not act straight away and still reside in England or Wales the next stage in the recovery process may also involve the instigation of County Court proceedings. If the Court grants a Judgement against you then there will be significant consequences.

About Bristow & Sutor

Why are you not called bailiffs anymore?

As of the 6th April 2014 new legislation came into force changing our name when working on cases like yours to enforcement agents. We can still take your goods and sell them but the legislation, terminology and fees have changed.

What do enforcement agents do?

Enforcement agents are empowered to take your goods and sell them by public auction to pay off your debt. This procedure is called “Taking Control of Goods.” You can prevent this by paying in full.

How can I make a Subject Access Request?

Your credit rating is not affected in any way as a result of the action Bristow & Sutor may take against you or the data we hold.

Code of practice and complaints

A code of practice is available and the company operates a formal complaints procedure. All complaints must be in writing. Click on 'Read More' to download a complaint form.

Debt Enforcement

Can the law stop the enforcement agent acting?

The regulations were written by government to enable the enforcement agent to collect these debts that are due to councils. The law is there to guide the enforcement agent as to how they should act, not to stop them acting.

Leaving paperwork – what do enforcement agents have to leave?

Enforcement agents will leave different forms when they carry out certain actions. We are required by law to leave some of these forms but other letters will be used to provide information to you where there is no set legal form.

What goods can enforcement agents take?

The enforcement agent can take control of goods which you own or in which you have a beneficial interest.

Should the enforcement agents be knocking the door?

They are instructed to do so where appropriate but the law does not make it mandatory.

Can enforcement agents force entry?

An enforcement agent can force entry to inspect or remove goods that are subject to a controlled goods agreement.

How will goods be sold?

Usually by public auction as this is as the law requires us to do.

Can I hide my goods from an enforcement agent or sell them to stop them being taken?

No. From the moment you are sent a Notice of Enforcement from our office your goods are “bound” in law. This means you cannot sell them or dispose of them.

Can I stop the enforcement agent doing their job?

If you or someone else intentionally obstructs someone lawfully acting as an enforcement agent, you or they may be guilty of an offence and be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for up to 51 weeks or a fine up to level 4 (currently £2500) or both.

Making Payments

I am disputing the enforcement agent fees

Bristow & Sutor charge fees in accordance with the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. Please note the fees are simple and fixed and there is little reason for dispute. Just because you think they are high compared with your original debt or do not want to pay them is not a reason to dispute them.

Can I send payments to the council?

No. Please DO NOT send payments to the Council. All payments MUST be sent directly to US. If you send it to the council they may allocate it to another debt and so your payment would not stop our recovery action.


Can I make a payment in person at the Redditch Offices?

Unfortunately, our reception is currently closed to the public to ensure not only yours, but our staff members’ safety as well. Due to the limited space available in our payment reception, it would not always be possible to socially distance from others and...

Can we continue the low arrangement given during furlough?

We will continue to honour a lower instalment arrangement whilst furlough is ongoing. Please note this is subject to evidence being provided of your current situation.

Is the payment line secure as we are working from home?

The easiest and most secure way of making a payment on your card is via our 24/7 automated card payment line or online via the Bristow & Sutor website or app. However, members of staff working from home are fully aware of their GDPR responsibilities and...

After receiving communications stating we are looking to help, what help can we give?

We have developed specific COVID-19 working procedures that every member of staff has been trained on. This includes taking full details of how someone has been affected by Coronavirus and taking appropriate action accordingly, based on the severity of the circumstances. If it is established that...

Can we extend our normal guidelines?

During these unprecedented times, we are ensuring we take full advice and specialist instructions from our clients. In circumstances where COVID-19 has had a proven significant impact on your financial circumstances, we will allow additional time on top of...

Can I make token/nominal payments to stop further action?

We are collecting debts on behalf of our clients, who provide services to the public and are reliant on the monies we collect in order to continue providing those services. We understand that in these unprecedented times and that people need assistance and...

How do we know if your Enforcement Agents are COVID-free?

All Enforcement Agents' actions are risk assessed and our COVID-19 Risk Assessments are available on our website. To be more specific, our Enforcement Agents follow government advice on identification and self-isolation as soon as any symptoms persist. All of our Enforcement Agents are supplied with...

Can we give extra time if you are self-isolating and unable to work?

If your circumstances have only recently changed, then we can normally allow some time for you to delay missed payments. You should contact us as soon as possible to make us aware of an ongoing situation, such as self-isolation, before payments fall into arrears. Action may be taken against you if...

For the self-employed and small business owners who cannot apply for benefits, can we direct people to useful resources including information on what they may be entitled too?

You should speak with a free debt advice agency at your earliest convenience to see what help and assistance is available to you. Click 'Read more' to see a list of debt advice agencies. You should also speak with our offices as soon as possible to update us on your...
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