FAQs

The information contained on these pages is provided only as a guide. If you have a question or are unsure about what you should do, please contact the free advice services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’ or seek legal help.


CIVEA

1. Why should I make a complaint through CIVEA instead of submitting an EAC2 complaint form directly to the courts?

CIVEA fully fund our own independent complaints procedure which means it won’t cost you anything.

Your complaint will be considered by the Chief Executive Officerl of CIVEA and where appropriate, by members of the Executive Council - none of whom will have any connection with the enforcement agent against which you are making a complaint. 

If you submit an EAC2 complaint directly with the courts and lose, it will almost certainly result in an application for costs being awarded against you. 

This is because an EAC2 complaint is against an enforcement agent and not the company, meaning the enforcement agent could stand to lose their enforcement agent certificate. Therefore, such proceedings are vigorously defended, usually with professional legal support so it can be an expensive process. 

Before embarking on an EAC2 complaint (previously known as Form 4) we would recommend to contact the free advice services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’.


2.  Do you investigate complaints made against any certificated enforcement agent?

No. We can only investigate complaints about our own Corporate Members and personnel who act on their behalf, or Private/Student Members. 

Whilst CIVEA are the only association representing over 2,000 enforcement agents operating throughout England and Wales, membership is currently not compulsory.

You can find out more about the complaints process here


3.  An enforcement agent has been trying to get me to pay for a debt which I am disputing. I was not aware the matter was being taken to court but a warrant has been issued demanding payment. Can CIVEA help me?

No. If you are in dispute with the body that has obtained the court order, you must contact them direct. 

Once a warrant has been issued the enforcement agent is under a legal duty to collect the outstanding amount, including any charges that may have been added to the account. 

This remains the position until either full payment has been made or the warrant is rescinded.

CIVEA do not have the legal authority to suspend enforcement action once a warrant has been issued – whether or not the grounds for the warrant are in dispute. 

If you need further advice contact the free services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’.


4. Does CIVEA give advice about enforcement matters?

No. It is not our remit to give guidance to the public. 

However, you can contact the free advice services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’ and/or seek legal advice.


5. Do you investigate complaints made against High Court Enforcement Officers?

No. We can only act in matters that concern our own Corporate Members and personnel who act on their behalf, or Private/Student Members.

Whilst some of our Corporate Members also employ High Court Enforcement Officers, there is another professional association which represents them. 

Their website is www.hceoa.org.uk where you can find a full list of their own members and ways to contact them.


6. Will CIVEA investigate my complaint against a local authority or other organisation? 

No. CIVEA can only investigate complaints about our Corporate Members and personnel who act on their behalf, or Private/Student Members.

If you have a complaint about a third party organisation you will need to contact them directly and follow their complaints process - even when linked to a complaint against one of our members. 

If you need further advice contact the free services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’.




Enforcement Action

1. I have had a notice that an enforcement agent will visit my home tomorrow to seize goods. Can you contact them to stop this happening?

No. CIVEA have no authority to prevent an enforcement agent taking action under the authority of a warrant. 

If you cannot make appropriate arrangements with the enforcement agent and you need guidance, contact the free advice services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’ or seek legal advice.


2. If I make a complaint against one of your members, or an enforcement agent working for one of your members, will that stop further action?

No. Action by certificated enforcement agents is usually under the direction of a warrant which instructs the enforcement agent to recover the outstanding debt at the earliest opportunity.

The enforcement agent is therefore legally obliged to carry out their duties until full payment has been made or the warrant rescinded.

CIVEA do not have the legal authority to suspend enforcement action once a warrant has been issued. 


3. If I appeal against a fixed penalty ticket that I was not aware of, will that stop further enforcement action?

No. Until the appeal is finalised, and the original warrant revoked by the Traffic Enforcement Centre, enforcement action will continue in accordance with the warrant. 

CIVEA do not have the legal authority to suspend enforcement action once a warrant has been issued and the enforcement agent has a legal obligation to carry out the duties as ordered.


4. Can CIVEA stop further action from an enforcement agent?

No. CIVEA do not have authority to stop enforcement action, which is normally under the authority of a warrant.

If you’re struggling to pay or need advice contact the free services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’.

If you’ve made an overpayment to one of our members CIVEA can help in getting a refund. 


5. I think my vehicle is a ‘tool of the trade’, can it be seized?

There is a distinct difference between a vehicle that is classed as a tool of the trade compared to one considered necessary or essential.

For a vehicle to be a tool of the trade you must show that it is vital for both operating your business and is used solely for business. 

If any other vehicle could be used as a substitute for work purposes e.g. a hire car, then the vehicle is less likely to be classed as a tool of the trade.

A vehicle used for commuting to work is not a tool of the trade.

A limited company cannot claim the benefit of this exemption.




Procedure

1. Can I use a solicitor, or other third party, to make the complaint on my behalf?

Yes. You may use a solicitor to make the complaint on your behalf. 

However, our independent complaints procedure was devised to enable individuals to make complaints against members of CIVEA without the need for legal assistance. 

We are happy to deal with the legal profession but this is on the understanding that any consequent legal costs are met by you - the complainant. 

Neither CIVEA nor the relevant member can accept any responsibility for such costs. 

When a solicitor or other advisor is used, CIVEA’s complaint leaflet must still be signed by you - the complainant.

If you have instructed a third party to make a complaint on your behalf, they will also need to submit a letter signed by yourself giving authorisation for them to correspond with both CIVEA and the relevant member in connection with your complaint. 


2. If I make a complaint through CIVEA will I be required to travel to give evidence?

No. The CIVEA independent complaints procedure is based on an examination of the documents provided by you - the complainant, and the relevant member. 

Neither the complainant nor any representative from the relevant member is present when this takes place. 

However, if the matter is ultimately referred to our independent panel then they may ask you to put the complaint to them in person.


3. Why doesn't CIVEA get involved in complaints of assault or damage or matters that involve the Data Protection Act?

Should a complaint allege that an enforcement agent or personnel working for an enforcement company has committed an assault or other damage, this is a criminal matter so can only be investigated by the police.

Similarly, allegations of breaches of the Data Protection Act can only be dealt with by the Information Commissioner's Office.


4. Why doesn't CIVEA investigate complaints that have been referred to a court?

Court proceedings and decisions made by a court take precedence over CIVEA’s independent complaints procedure. 

Therefore, we are unable to investigate matters that have been or are being dealt with by a court. 


5. I have made a complaint to CIVEA about an enforcement agent. If I am not satisfied with the outcome can I take the matter to court?

In most cases, if the matter is referred to our independent panel – the last stage in our complaints procedure, you will first be asked to agree in writing that their final decision is binding and that you will not take the matter to court regardless of the outcome.

If a complaint is being dealt with by a court, CIVEA cannot investigate as the court’s decision takes precedence.

However, individual cases differ considerably and you may wish to seek further professional advice. 

You can find details of free advice services on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’. 


6. I have been told that I cannot complain about an issue with an enforcement agent that took place some months ago. Why is this?

The Data Protection Act 1998 requires enforcement companies to destroy most of the information held on cases six months after they are ‘finalised’ – that is to say the full outstanding debt and charges have been paid, or the warrant has been returned to the creditor.

If a complaint is made after six months, a proper investigation will be impossible as the documents will have been destroyed.

Similarly, if a complaint is made to CIVEA and then not pursued for more than six months, then it’s likely the relevant documents will also have been destroyed and we’ll be unable to help you further. 


7. A vehicle I recently purchased privately has been seized by an enforcement agent but I have nothing to do with the debt. How can I get my car back?

Unless a vehicle is bought through a recognised motor dealership, where there is a printed company invoice including a VAT registration number, there can be difficulties with regard to proving ownership. 

It is normally expected that in such cases the enforcement agent will require a copy of:

  • The advertisement for sale of the vehicle showing the date on which the advertisement was placed.
  • A certificate of insurance in the name of the owner which covers that vehicle, valid on the date the vehicle was seized.
  • A valid V5 registration document that shows the date the change of ownership was notified to and recorded by the DVLA.
  • A valid receipt.

8. Does it speed matters up if I complain directly to CIVEA rather than going through the enforcement agent against whom I wish to complain?

No. In fact it actually lengthens the process. 

CIVEA’s independent complaints procedure states you must first write directly to the enforcement agent and give them at least 28 days to respond to the complaint. 

If you are dissatisfied with their response, send copies of the correspondence - together with a completed and signed complaints procedure leaflet and any other relevant information to CIVEA, so we can investigate the matter.

You can download a complaints procedure leaflet and find out more information about the process here




Payments

1. I am in dispute with an enforcement agent over its charges. If I pay the original outstanding debt directly to the council do I still have to pay the charges to the enforcement agent?

Yes. Any fees that have legitimately been added to your account because a warrant has been issued will also have to be paid. 

The payment of those fees can be pursued by the enforcement agent in just the same way as the original debt.

If additional action is needed to recover the fees, an enforcement agent can add a separate set of charges to your account.

An explanation of what fees you should expect can be found here

Once a debt is with an enforcement agent, you are required to pay them, rather than the body you owe money to. 

The relevant fees will still apply in addition to the initial debt, even if you pay the body you owe, so if you do this you won’t reduce the fees you owe and the enforcement agent will still be responsible for recovering the outstanding amount from you. 


2. I had an arrangement to pay the enforcement agent a specified amount each month. One of the payments was late and now they are demanding the full outstanding amount, including enforcement charges. Is this acceptable?

Yes. Payment schedules are agreed at the discretion of the enforcement agent. 

The warrant states that the outstanding amount must be paid in full at the earliest opportunity – but enforcement companies are flexible and can set up alternative arrangements.

However, if the arrangement is broken because a payment has been missed, the enforcement agent is entitled to revert back to demanding immediate payment of the outstanding amount, including any enforcement charges that have been added.


3. I am disputing the amount that I am being charged by the enforcement agent. Am I within my rights to refuse to pay?

It is your decision whether to pay or not. 

However, be aware that late or non-payment will mean enforcement charges are added to your account and at worse, your possessions taken and sold at auction.

For instance, once the debt is with an enforcement agent, £75 is added to your account.

Any further action by the enforcement agent to recover the money means more charges are added to your account so ultimately you’ll have more to pay.

An explanation of the fees and how they’re added to an account can be found here

If you are disputing the amount you’ve been charged it’s best to contact the free advice services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’ or seek legal advice.


4. I have a number of outstanding Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). Can the enforcement agent charge fees on each one of them?

This can very much depend on the circumstances. 

For a full explanation please refer to the ‘Multiple Instructions’ section in the guidance notes. 

We would also recommend you contact the free advice services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’ and/or seek legal advice. 


5. I am seeking compensation from an enforcement agent. Can you help me? 

Our complaints procedure is not designed to deal with claims for compensation for emotional distress or damages. 

For help with this you should contact one of the free advice services listed on your ‘Notice of Enforcement’ as this would be dealt with by the courts. 

However, we can help if you have evidence that shows the actions of one of our members (or one of their employees) has led to specific financial loss when enforcing a warrant against you.

In this instance follow our complaints process which you can read about here