Bristow & Sutor Bailiffs:
How To Stop Bailiff Action

If you’ve been contacted by Bristow and Sutor about a Council Tax debt, it’s natural to feel worried. At IVA Helpline, we’re here to help you understand what this means and what you can do. You’re not alone in this.

In this guide, we explain who Bristow and Sutor are, what they can legally do about Council Tax debts, and what your rights are. We’ve also got a FAQ section to answer any other questions you might have. Dealing with Council Tax debt can be tough, but there’s always a way forward with our help.

Get started by clicking the ‘Apply for Help‘ button below to get the support you need. If you’d prefer to talk directly, give us a ring on 0800 464 7235 and chat with our friendly team.

We’re here to help you stop further letters and visits from Bristow & Sutor and begin your journey to a debt-free life.

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Who are Bristow & Sutor?

Bristow and Sutor are an enforcement agency, commonly known as bailiffs. They specialise in collecting debts on behalf of local authorities, rather than private companies. Their role involves pursuing various types of debts, including:

  • Council Tax payments
  • Non-Domestic Rates (Business Rates)
  • Penalty Charge Notices (such as parking fines)
  • Sundry Debts, which can include leases, rent, or overpayment of benefits.

Operating since 1977 and based in Redditch, Worcestershire, Bristow and Sutor have established themselves as a significant player in local authority debt recovery across England and Wales. The agency directly employs its enforcement agents, ensuring full control and adherence to the highest standards.

Importantly, Bristow and Sutor are regulated by the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA). This means they must follow specific guidelines and practices in their debt collection processes. As bailiffs, they have certain legal powers to recover debts, such as entering properties under specific circumstances and seizing goods if necessary. However, their actions are bound by legal constraints to ensure fair and ethical practices.

Their approach to debt collection is governed by both the law and industry standards, ensuring that while they are effective in their role, they also respect the rights and situations of those from whom they are collecting debts


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What do Bristow & Sutor do?

Bristow and Sutor are a prominent enforcement agency working on behalf of 203 local authorities across England and Wales. Their primary role is to manage the collection of various types of debts, including:

  • Council Tax Payments: They are responsible for collecting unpaid council tax, a common issue for many households.
  • Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs): This includes unpaid parking fines, which are frequently handed over to them by local councils.
  • Business Rates: Also known as non-domestic rates, these are taxes levied on the occupation of commercial properties.
  • Overpaid Housing Benefits (OPHB): They handle the recovery of benefits that have been overpaid to recipients.
  • Former Tenant Arrears (FTA): This includes debts left by tenants of local authority properties.

Bristow and Sutor employ their enforcement agents directly, ensuring a high level of accountability and professionalism in their operations. This direct employment model means they are legally responsible for their actions and maintain a duty of care towards the individuals from whom they are collecting debts.

The company is known for its ethical approach to debt collection. They prioritise integrity and sensitivity in their interactions with debtors, understanding the challenges faced by those in debt. Bristow and Sutor not only provide their own support and advice but also guide individuals towards free, third-party advice services. This approach reflects their commitment to responsible debt recovery practices.

It is crucial for individuals contacted by Bristow and Sutor not to ignore these communications. Engaging proactively with the agency can lead to more manageable arrangements for settling debts and avoiding further legal complications.

Are Bristow & Sutor a regulated debt collector?

Yes, Bristow and Sutor are a regulated debt collector, operating under the oversight of the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) and the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK.

While there is no formal, government-led regulatory body specifically for the civil enforcement industry, the standards and guidelines set by CIVEA play a crucial role in ensuring ethical and professional conduct.

Bristow and Sutor have a significant operational presence in England and Wales, with approximately 2,000 certificated enforcement agents. These agents are required to adhere to the CIVEA Code of Practice, which dictates ethical and professional standards. Should there be any concerns about an agent’s conduct not aligning with this code, individuals can report the matter to CIVEA for investigation.

Additionally, Bristow and Sutor demonstrate their commitment to ethical practices through their own Independent Advice Panel. This panel serves as an additional oversight mechanism, guiding the company to ensure their operations are fair and considerate towards the people they interact with.

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Can Bristow & Sutor force entry into my home?

Yes, Bristow & Sutor can force entry into your home, but they are only allowed to do this in specific and rare circumstances.

This includes scenarios where a liability order has been issued by the Magistrates on behalf of the council. In cases involving business premises, they can force entry if there are outstanding fines from the Magistrates, High Court, or County Court.

If Bristow & Sutor agents have previously entered your property lawfully, they also have the right to re-enter using what is termed as ‘reasonable force’. This could involve the use of a locksmith or other specialist equipment.

Their operations for forced entry are limited to their working hours, which are typically between 6 am and 9 pm, any day of the week.

It’s crucial to understand your rights in these situations. If you’re concerned about the possibility of forced entry by Bristow & Sutor or any High Court Enforcement Officers, seeking legal advice or consulting with advisory services is advisable for guidance specific to your situation.

What debts do Bristow and Sutor collect?

Bristow and Sutor specialise in recovering a range of debts, primarily those linked to local authorities. Their focus is on collecting debts owed to councils and other public sector entities. The types of debts they typically handle include:

Council Tax Arrears: This is one of the most common debts they collect. If individuals fall behind on their council tax payments, local authorities may engage Bristow and Sutor to recover the owed amounts.

Non-Domestic Rates: Also known as business rates, these are levied on the occupation of non-domestic properties. Bristow and Sutor are involved in collecting overdue payments from businesses.

Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs): These are fines generally issued for parking violations or for breaking traffic regulations. Bristow and Sutor work to recover unpaid PCNs on behalf of local councils.

Former Tenant Arrears: Debts accumulated by tenants in council or public sector housing, often related to rent or property damage, are also within their purview.

Overpaid Housing Benefit: In cases where housing benefits have been overpaid, Bristow and Sutor may be tasked with recovering the excess amount.

It’s important to note that Bristow and Sutor’s role is specifically tied to the enforcement of public sector debts. They do not typically handle private debts like credit card bills, personal loans, or mortgage arrears. Their activities are focused on recovering debts owed to local authorities and related public sector entities.

What fees can Bristow & Sutor charge?

Understanding the fee structure of Bristow & Sutor is essential for individuals involved in their debt recovery process.

For debts under £1500, the typical costs include a £75 fee at the compliance stage and a £235 fee during the enforcement stage. If the debt reaches the sale or disposal stage, an additional fee of £110 is applied.

This overview focuses on the most common scenarios encountered in the debt recovery process, excluding those involving High Court orders.

Compliance stage fees

Debt AmountFee
Below £1500£75
Over £15000%

For debts below £1500, Bristow & Sutor charge a flat fee of £75 at the compliance stage. If the debt exceeds £1500, no compliance fee is charged. This stage involves issuing an enforcement notice and informing you about the debt.

Enforcement stage fees

Debt AmountFee
Below £1500£235
Over £15007.5%

During the enforcement stage, a fee of £235 is applicable for debts under £1500. For debts over £1500, the fee is calculated as 7.5% of the total debt amount. This stage covers the bailiffs’ right to enter your property and take control of goods if necessary.

Disposal stage fees

Debt AmountFee
Below £1500£110
Over £15007.5%

At the sale or disposal stage, a fee of £110 is charged for debts below £1500. For debts exceeding £1500, the fee is 7.5% of the debt. This stage involves the potential removal and sale of your property to cover the debt.

Additional charges and special considerations

Bristow & Sutor may also add disbursement costs for services such as removals, storage, and locksmith fees. Vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly or disabled, are entitled to special considerations. If a debt is resolved before the enforcement stage, subsequent fees are not applicable. However, if bailiffs have already visited, the enforcement stage fee applies.

Can Bristow and Sutor take my car?

Yes, Bristow and Sutor can take your car under certain conditions as part of their enforcement actions for unpaid debts.

However, there are specific rules and limitations:

  • Visibility and Accessibility: Your car can be seized if it is visible and accessible, such as being parked on a driveway or public road.
  • Value Consideration: The value of the car is a key factor. If it has significant value and can cover the debt amount, it becomes a more likely target for seizure.
  • Work-Related Exemptions: Vehicles essential for work or study, especially those valued under £1,350, are generally exempt, assuming no alternative transportation is available.
  • Hire Purchase Agreements: Cars under hire purchase agreements are not typically seized if the final payment has not been made, as the ownership hasn’t transferred to the debtor.
  • Legal Process: Bristow and Sutor must follow legal procedures, including providing notice and allowing the opportunity to settle the debt or arrange a payment plan.
  • Personal Circumstances: The decision to seize a vehicle also considers the debtor’s financial situation and potential hardship caused by the seizure.

If you are concerned about your car being taken, consider parking it in a secured location. It’s important to engage with Bristow and Sutor or seek professional advice if facing the possibility of asset seizure. Proactive communication can often lead to arrangements that prevent the need for such enforcement actions.

What items can Bristow & Sutor take from your home?

When facing debt recovery actions by Bristow & Sutor, it’s crucial to understand which of your possessions are at risk of being seized. As enforcement agents, they have the authority to take certain items from your property to settle debts. However, there are clear rules about what they can and cannot take. Essential items for daily living and work are typically protected.

Below is a detailed breakdown in table format to help you understand these distinctions.

Items subject to seizure by Bristow & Sutor

Items Bristow & Sutor Can SeizeItems Bristow & Sutor Cannot Seize
Luxury items (e.g., TVs, games consoles)Essential household items (e.g., clothes, cooker, fridge)
Non-essential electrical items (e.g., second TVs, luxury goods)Work tools and equipment necessary for your job or business (up to a value of £1,350)
Vehicles (cars, bikes), unless exempt due to being essential for work or displaying a Blue BadgeItems belonging to other people (e.g., a child’s computer, roommate’s furniture)
Jointly owned items (e.g., jointly owned electronics or furniture)Basic living necessities (e.g., beds, basic kitchen appliances)
Jewellery and non-essential valuablesItems that are essential for the care of children or elderly in the household

This table provides a clear overview of what Bristow & Sutor can legally seize from your home during debt recovery. Understanding these guidelines can help you prepare and protect your essential belongings in such situations. Remember, while enforcement agents have the right to seize certain items, they must also respect the legal protections in place for essential and personal belongings.

Do You Have To Pay Bristow And Sutor?

If you owe a debt to your local authority and it has been passed to Bristow And Sutor to collect then you have a responsibility to pay this debt to them.

If you’re unsure of the debt and don’t think it is yours then you can ask for proof of the debt. Once you receive this, it’s best to just pay, so you can move on with your life.

However, if you can’t afford to repay the debt in full then you can set up a repayment plan with Bristow and Sutor so that you can pay in smaller chunks over a certain period of time. You will have to discuss with the enforcement officer and come to a suitable agreement together.


What To Do If You’re In Debt With Bristow And Sutor?

The most important thing is that you don’t ignore them! When you receive a letter or warning from Bristow and Sutor, even if you don’t think the debt is yours, the best thing to do is to talk to them as soon as you can to try and resolve the situation.

If you ignore the letters then the debt will not go away and having it hanging over you could really affect your mental health.

Talk to Bristow and Sutor and come to an arrangement, it’s far better for both parties if you face it and to get it resolved as quickly as possible.

Why won’t Bristow & Sutor accept a payment plan?

Bristow & Sutor may refuse your payment plan primarily because it doesn’t meet their collection guidelines or because council tax, a ‘priority debt’, is not being prioritised by you, over other non-priority debts. They also consider your financial situation and previous payment history when making their decision.

In addition to these factors, the specific policies and guidelines of Bristow & Sutor play a significant role in their decision-making process. If your proposed repayment plan extends beyond their standard 10-month period for council tax collection, it’s more likely to be rejected. This is because they are focused on collecting debts within a certain timeframe, and council tax, being a priority, is expected to be settled promptly.

Your financial assessment is another critical aspect they consider. If Bristow & Sutor determines that you are capable of paying off the debt quicker than your proposed plan suggests, they may not accept your offer. This assessment is based on your overall financial situation, including income and expenses.

Furthermore, your history with payments can influence their decision. A track record of missed payments or previously broken agreements can lead to scepticism about your commitment to a new payment plan.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that each bailiff enforcement agency, including Bristow & Sutor, has its own set of internal policies and thresholds for accepting payment plans. These policies may vary and can significantly impact the flexibility and terms of any payment arrangement they are willing to consider.

Understanding these factors is crucial in negotiating a payment plan with Bristow & Sutor or or if you’re looking for other ways to address your payment issues after a refusal.

If you need further assistance or guidance on payment plans, consider contacting us or speak to Council Tax Helpline for professional advice and support.

How do I contact Bristow and Sutor?

If you need to get in touch with Bristow and Sutor about debt recovery, here are your options:

Contact MethodDetails
Website FormVisit the Debtor Contact Form on their official website
WhatsAppMessage them at 07860 078 251
TextSend a text to 07781 488270
TelephoneRing them on 0871 677 0070
PostWrite to: Bristow & Sutor, Bartleet Road, Washford, Redditch, Worcestershire, B98 0FL

Note: Bristow and Sutor do not provide a freephone number.

Bristow and Sutor’s head office location

For a visual reference, here’s a map showing the location of Bristow and Sutor’s head office:

Credit Services Limited

In some instances, you might need to contact Credit Services Limited.

Their contact details are:

Contact MethodDetails
PostCredit Security Limited, The Old Court House, High Street, Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire, HP22 4JS
TelephoneCall 0845 122 2975
WebsiteVisit Credit Security
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Frequently asked questions

  • Will Bristow and Stutor take my car if I don’t let them in?

    An enforcement agent is allowed to take your car. This is because cars are usually of some value, and they are also an easy item to seize and easy to sell on, too. While enforcement agents are allowed to take cars and other vehicles, there are certain rules they have to follow such as:

    An enforcement agent can only take control of a vehicle that is owned solely or jointly by the debtor – they can’t just take any car they find parked at your house.

    A car belonging to a third party cannot be taken. If you have a company car or a hire purchase agreement, then they cannot take it.

    They also cannot take a car that displays a Blue Badge.

    However, if you come to an agreement with the agent about your debt, how you’re going to pay it and sign a controlled goods agreement, then your vehicle won’t be seized – providing you stick to your payments and keep to the agreement made.

  • What happens if I don’t pay a council parking ticket?

    If you don’t pay a parking ticket fine from the council, they will contact you to remind you and to ask you for the payment. If you still fail to pay the fine, the council will pass the debt on to a debt recovery agency such as Bristow and Sutor to collect it for them.

  • Who do Bristow and Sutor collect for?

    Bristow and Sutor collect for local authorities for payments such as unpaid council tax, unpaid parking fines, unpaid business rates and other Sundry Debts, which includes things like leases, rent, or overpayment of benefits.

  • Should I ignore Bristow and Sutor bailiffs?

    You should never ignore bailiffs. If you don’t feel ready to let them into your home then make sure you call the collection agency to make an agreement with them and to stop the enforcement agent from coming to your home again.

    Your debt will not go away if you ignore it, so whether it is a council tax debt, an unpaid parking fine or you have defaulted on business rates, it’s better to face the situation head-on and come to an arrangement with the enforcement agencies.

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