FAQs

We collect three types of debt, Council Tax, Non-Domestic Rates and Penalty Charge Notices (also known as PCNs) for local authorities (councils) and below are brief details of each.

If your enquiry relates to a Sundry Debt (including Former Tenant Arrears, Overpaid Housing Benefit or other miscellaneous debts) Click Here for Sundry Debt FAQs, or if it relates to Commercial Rent or an Arrest Warrant please ring us on 0871 677 0070.


Council Tax is a local tax collected by us for councils. It is a tax on domestic property and paid by people who occupy the properties or by the owners of empty properties or homes in multiple occupation. Even if you get benefits you might have to pay something.
Before we are involved you will have been sent several letters and forms by the Council and a Magistrates Court will have decided you owe this money and issued a liability order (often in your absence).


Non Domestic Rates is a local tax collected by us for councils. It is a tax on commercial property and paid by people who occupy the properties or by the owners of empty properties. Before we are involved you will have been sent several letters and forms and a Magistrates Court will have decided you owe this money and issued a liability order.


Penalty Charge Notices are parking and other traffic related penalties collected by us for councils. PCN stands for penalty charge notice and they are incurred by the registered keeper of a vehicle which is parked too long or in the wrong place or in which someone breaks a traffic rule such as driving in a bus lane. A warrant is issued and authorised by the Traffic Enforcement Centre which is part of the County Court. The penalty is incurred by the registered keeper who might not have been the driver who parked the car or carried out the violation.
Before we are involved you will have been sent several letters and forms and had a warrant of control issued against you.

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.

Please be aware that our action will continue unless we receive further instructions from our client.

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.

The three fees that you may have to pay are as follows:-

  • £75 Compliance stage fee added to every case as soon as we are asked to collect the debt.
  • £235 Enforcement stage fee added as soon as a visit is made for a case or group of cases with a value of up to £1500. If the case or group of cases are above £1500 a further 7.5% of the debt above the £1500 is added.
  • £110 Sale or Disposal stage fee added as soon as a visit is made for the purpose of removing controlled goods for a case or group of cases with a value of up to £1500. If the case or group of cases are above £1500 a further 7.5% of the debt above the £1500 is added.

As an example if you have three cases with a total value of £2000 the enforcement fee would be £235 + 7.5% of £500. This is £272.50 which is then rounded up to £273.

You could also have to pay for things like locksmiths charges, storage charges and fees charged or incurred by auctioneers.

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.

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.

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. You cannot avoid paying enforcement agent fees by paying direct to the council despite what some websites and internet forums might suggest, as all payments are to be allocated in accordance with the regulations.

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.

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.

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.

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.
The enforcement agent does not have to carry the liability order or a warrant with them so they cannot show you one even if you ask. They do carry an identity card and a letter authorising them to enter premises and will show these if asked.

The enforcement agent can take control of goods which you own or in which you have a beneficial interest. This includes goods which you jointly own with someone else, even if the co-owner does not owe any money. They are not able to take control of goods which fit any of the descriptions of exempt goods indicated in regulation 4 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. Regulation 4 can be found here.

Yes. The regulations do not require your signature or co-operation for goods to be removed or sold. We may invite you to enter into a controlled goods agreement and if so the enforcement agent can leave you with the goods whilst you pay by instalments. If you do not enter such an arrangement the enforcement agent should remove your goods straight away.

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

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

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

If we are not going to take further enforcement agent action the Council has several options including the following:-

  • For Council Tax and Non Domestic Rates, English councils may apply to the Magistrates court for the committal to prison where the debtor is an individual over the age of 18 years.
  • Apply for the debtor’s bankruptcy or for Council Tax attach earnings or make deductions from benefit.

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.

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. If you deliberately sell them to a friend we can still take control of them as if you had not sold them.

If you hide your goods somewhere else we can apply to the court for permission to enter and take control of them from their hiding place. You will be responsible for the costs of applying for the court warrant to enable us to do this.

It is even more serious if you or someone else intentionally interferes with controlled goods (goods an enforcement agent has listed). If you do this 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.

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.

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. We also have a dedicated Welfare Team who you can ask to speak to. Where there is evidence of potential cause for concern we will report your situation to the council to whom you owe your debt.

We can’t just stop recovering debts from vulnerable people but we can suspend action for a short time for you to obtain advice if you let us know you want this.

We would also encourage you to take the free debt advice that is available from the following bodies.


AdviceUK http://www.adviceuk.org.uk/find-a-member/
0300 777 0107
National Debtline www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
0808 808 4000
Money Advice Service www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
0300 500 5000
Citizens Advice www.adviceguide.org.uk
England: 03444 111 444
Wales: 03444 77 20 20

Please note there is a charge for calling these numbers.
Gov.uk www.gov.uk

YOUR CREDIT RATING IS NOT AFFECTED IN ANY WAY AS A RESULT OF THE ACTION BRISTOW AND SUTOR MAY TAKE AGAINST YOU OR THE DATA WE HOLD.


What is a Subject Access Request (SAR) – A subject access request gives individuals the right under the General Data Protection Regulation to find out what information we hold about them.

How do I request a SAR – We request you complete and return to us a SAR form along with two types of identification. You can print our form from our website here or alternatively request we send one to you via post or email. This form is not a mandatory form, however, its purpose is to help us identify exactly what data you require and to speed up your request. While the form is not mandatory, providing identification is and you should provide us two forms of identification as per the below table: (Original documents will be returned to you)

List A (photocopy of one from below) List B (plus one original from below)
Identification that clearly shows your name and date of birth. Documentation that clearly shows your name and current address.
Passport/Travel Document Council Tax Bill
Photo driving licence Utility bill showing current home address
Foreign National Identity Card Bank statement or Building Society Book


You can return the form and identification to us in the post or alternatively upload it to us via the contact page on our website.

Do I have to have any identification copy documents certified as true copies? – No.

If you are unable to locate any information for me on your records, will you tell me? – Yes.

Is there a fee for making a Subject Access Request? – No, not for straight forward requests.

Can I request a SAR by phone? – Yes. We will then send you a copy of our SAR form via your preferred method of contact or you can print it from our website, to return to us with your two forms of identification.

Can I request a SAR on behalf of somebody else? – Yes, however, we require the data subject’s consent in writing and two forms of identification as required from the above table, confirming the representative’s identification, along with our form returned completed.

Can you forward on my SAR results to another organisation or third party on my behalf? – No, details of your request will be forwarded to you and you can forward on the details as necessary.

How long will you take to process my SAR? – We will send you the details of your request, within one month of receiving the requested documents.

How will I receive the information? – We can send the information by email or post.

Where can I find out more information about a SAR? – The Information Commissioner’s website: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/principle-6-rights/subject-access-request/

A code of practice is available and the company operates a formal complaints procedure. All complaints must be in writing. A complaint form is available to print here or by contacting the office.

AdviceUK http://www.adviceuk.org.uk/find-a-member/
0300 777 0107
National Debtline www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
0808 808 4000
Money Advice Service www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
0300 500 5000
Citizens Advice www.adviceguide.org.uk
England: 03444 111 444
Wales: 03444 77 20 20

Please note there is a charge for calling these numbers.
Gov.uk www.gov.uk