The creditors you owe may sometimes become unable to collect the debt. Or, maybe they have simply given up after chasing you for debt. In such situations, what they do is assign the task to a debt collecting agency or sell them your debt. Now, these agencies collect the entire amount, with added interest, and keep a part of the money as their fee. However, if they have bought your debt, they will keep all of the money.
Generally, creditors sell debts at a low price to make up for their loss. If an agency buys these debts in bulk and collects even half of them, then they would have made a huge profit. So, that’s their incentive behind hassling you for repayment. And, Bristow and Sutor is one such agency.
Who are the Bristow and Sutor?
Among all the agencies that collect or buy debts, Bristow & Sutor is a prominent name. Though they actually only collect debts and don’t buy them. They have been in the debt collection business for over four decades.
You’ll be contacted by them only if you reside in England or Wales since that’s their area of operation. They are an enforcement agency, as opposed to a debt collecting agency. They collect debts, but their agents have the powers of a bailiff, which regular debt collectors don’t have. The Bristow Sutors can approach you for priority debts, such as income tax and criminal fines, apart from other debts.
How will they Approach you for Debt?
At first, they will send you a compliance notice when you owe money to them. It wouldn’t contain any threats of legal action, but that would come later on. This notice would just request you to pay the entire amount you owe or get into a payment arrangement, whichever suits you better. They generally give you a week’s time to decide. Also, they would add £75 to your debt amount as ‘collection fees’.
What Happens if you Ignore the Compliance Notice?
You might want to ignore the first notice as many people would do. But, you’re advised not to do so, as it would only make things worse. You must remember that you’re dealing with an enforcement agency. Anyway, if you don’t pay your debt within the 7-day deadline, you’ll get an enforcement notice. This notice will warn you to pay the debt, failing to which you’ll get a visit from an enforcement agent.
At this point, you should either pay or make an arrangement with them. Otherwise, the said agent will pay you a visit, which has an impact on your reputation. Moreover, the debt you pay would be added with a collection fee of £235. In addition to that, if the debt is above £1,500, you’ll have to pay them an additional 7.5% of that amount.
What methods do they use to Recover a Debt?
First, the agent would visit your residence, though not without prior notice. They can visit only during a fixed time. Generally speaking, they don’t have the right to enter forcefully into a house. But in some specific types of debts such as income tax, they can use a reasonable amount of force, if necessary.
If you have a door or window open, they can enter through it too, regardless of the type of debt. Once inside, they can request you to pay the debt. If you are unable or fail to do so, they are authorized to take control of some of our goods. But, they can’t take away any essential items, so you need not worry about that.
They would make a list of the goods and seize the ones that are considered as luxury, such as jewellery, vehicle, etc. If your debt amount is not recovered even after selling the items, you’ll have to pay the rest of the amount. So, the only way to stop them from hassling you is by paying off the debt.
What if you can’t Pay the Debt Amount?
You might be unable to repay the debt due to some financial problems. If that is the case, you’re not alone at all. This is quite a common situation that many other debtors are facing at the same time. Trying to avoid paying would be the worst decision to make in these circumstances.
Thus, you are advised to make some payment arrangements with Bristow & Sutor, if you’re unable to pay them. A formal agreement such as an IVA might offer you a way out. Because the agents will simply keep chasing the debt until you’ve paid it.
What Power do Bristow and Sutor’s Agents have?
Bristow and Sutor are not ordinary debt collectors. They use enforcement agents, which means they have more powers as compared to other agencies. They have been given these powers because they deal with priority debts. So, you have to be more careful while dealing with Bristow Sutor.
If you ignore the payment reminders, you will get a visit from one of their enforcement agents. Though you would get a notice a few days prior to the visit. They generally can’t forcefully enter your house, unless it is for collecting a serious debt such as income tax.
Even in certain cases, they are allowed to use only a reasonable amount of force. Also, if you let them enter your residence once, you can’t refuse to do so the second time. Otherwise, they are authorized to use a necessary amount of force to enter.
But, if there are no adults in the house, they can’t get inside. They can’t visit you before 6 am and after 9 pm. And, once you let them in, they’ll discuss your payment. They are also authorized to take some of your goods and sell them if you’re unable to pay.
What is a Controlled Goods Agreement?
In case, you can’t pay the debt in cash, the creditor would need to recover the amount some other way. A Controlled Goods agreement lets them do exactly that. It allows the debt to be secured against some of the goods that you own. When the enforcement agents visit you, they discuss the debt repayment first. If you can’t pay the full amount at once, you can make a payment arrangement.
The terms will be decided after discussion between both sides. You would have to specify the amount you’re going to pay. Based on that, they would make a list of the goods whose values add up to the amount you owe them. This, apart from other information, would be put in the Controlled Goods Agreement.
It comes into effect when both sides sign it. After that, you would have to stick to the terms, otherwise, they would take the goods and sell them. You cannot sell off the goods that have been listed in the agreement. They have the full right to take away the goods if you don’t pay and take legal action if you stop them.
Though, they won’t sell it off right away. If you pay the value of an item before they sell it off, they’ll return it to you. You will get a time period of seven days to repay, after signing the agreement.
What Legal action can Bristow & Sutor take against you?
First, the bailiffs will bring a Controlled Goods Agreement for you to sign. The terms included in it would be legally protected. So, if you breach any of them, you would have to face legal action.
The most common form of action would be the seizure of your goods listed in the agreement. If that is not possible for some reason, the court can pass the order to recover the amount directly from your salary, pension, or benefits. This method is often used to recover priority debts.
They might also file a bankruptcy petition against you if they are convinced that you can’t pay them. If they win the case, you would have to go through a 1-year process as an undischarged bankrupt.
During this process, you would have to pay some regular instalments on a monthly basis. After you’re discharged, all your loans will be written off, except for certain kinds. Bankruptcy can’t write off student loans, fraudulently obtained debts, and criminal fines.
Will you Face Imprisonment for not Paying your Debt?
If you’re a resident of England, you might face imprisonment, only if you expressly refuse to pay the debt. In other parts of the UK, you won’t face prison for non-payment of debts. Though there is an exception made for some kinds of debts such as income tax and criminal fines. Refusing to pay them, means you can go to prison.
Should you Include this Debt in your IVA?
An IVA, as we shall see, would be a viable solution to the situation you’re facing. It would help you clear most of your debt, if not all of it. All you have to do is prepare the payment plan and the terms carefully. You also need to find a good insolvency practitioner.
A lot of people are coming out of their debts with the help of an IVA, but it is not a suitable choice for everyone. If your debt amounts to a total below £5000, considering the cost of getting on IVA, it won’t be a worthwhile option. Also, you must owe at least two creditors to avail of this arrangement. So, first, you need to check whether this would be the right option for you.
How will an IVA Benefit you in Dealing with Bristow and Sutor?
An IVA can help you deal with bailiffs effectively. In fact, if you want to be free from their hassles, it would probably be the best option as we shall see. Following are the ways in which an IVA would get eliminate the stress of dealing a bailiff:
You won’t have to deal with the creditor yourself
One of the basic ideas behind getting an IVA is to ease the stress. As such, you won’t have to deal with any of your creditors, not even for making payments. All of that would be managed by your insolvency supervisor. That means you would also stop getting calls asking for payment, which would be a big relief.
You won’t have to face any legal proceeding
After the arrangement comes into effect, the creditors can’t start any further legal proceedings against you. So, you don’t have to worry about the legal action taken by Bristow Sutor. Moreover, it would also mean that they can’t take away any goods.
You won’t have to pay further interests
As soon as you get an IVA, the interest rates of your debts would freeze. This would ease up the strain caused in your financial condition due to the debt. It is one of the most important reasons to get an IVA.
It would save you from going bankrupt
If you are a business owner, you would want to avoid bankruptcy at all costs. Going bankrupt can also mean being removed from or barred from certain job positions. So, it can be harmful to your career, as well. If you’re looking for a way out, an IVA provides exactly that. Even though it can affect your credit score, it is certainly more preferable rather than going bankrupt. That is why a lot of people go for it.
What Risks will you face in an IVA?
Apart from benefits, an IVA also comes with its risks. Since it is a formal agreement, its terms are legally protected. This can pose as much a risk as it can serve as a benefit. If you don’t stick to the terms, you’ll endanger the entire arrangement.
An IVA can get terminated if you’re unable to pay a monthly instalment and the creditors are convinced that you can’t pay any more. If you hide any earnings or spend above your budget, that would be a breach to the arrangement, as well.
Sometimes, you might be unable to cooperate with your IP. In such cases, the only option left would be to terminate the arrangement. If it gets terminated, you would still have to pay the amount that remains in your debt. So, you must consider the terms and the payment plan carefully, before signing the agreement.
How will IVA affect your Credit Score?
When you get an IVA, your name would be entered in the Insolvency register. It would also show in your credit file. This would stay for 6 years after completion of the IVA period. For that period, you probably would face difficulty in getting loans and mortgages at good rates. This is because your credit score would have suffered a dent as well. But, you should still choose this over the other option, that is bankruptcy, which would put an even bigger dent on your credit score.
What if the Bill sent by Bristow and Sutor is wrong?
You might find the amount they’re asking you to repay to be too high. Or, it could also be that you don’t owe them the money they’re asking for. Both of these circumstances are possible. Even an experienced agency like Bristow & Sutor can make mistakes in their debt calculation. So, you need to clear it out with them as soon as possible. Hopefully, they would see their mistake and correct them.
Can Bristow and Sutor scam you?
Bristow and Sutor are a completely legitimate company. They are one of the biggest and oldest debt recovery agencies in the UK. Generally speaking, there hasn’t been any reports about them scamming people. They are regulated by the Civil Enforcement Association. So, they have to follow a very strict guideline regarding debt collection.
Can you complain about the Behaviour of Bristow and Sutor Enforcement Agents?
Bristow and Sutor are a professional and reputed agency. They strictly follow the regulations put by the government on debt collection. But, if you have still faced any harassment from their enforcement agents, you can simply contact the agency and file a complaint against them.