Perhaps the question should be “Are DCBL guilty of offences under The Administration of Justice Act1970 section 40 and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997?" Another possibility is that this is fraud by false representation according to the Fraud Act 2006 .
Anyone who receives one of DCBL's letters which impersonates a genuine Letter of Enforcement should therefore refer the matter to Action Fraud as well as Trading Standards. The more complaints they get, the more likely it is that the matter may get to the top of the pile for an investigation.
There are some letters from DCBL which may not fall under these remits.
In this letter it does not appear that DCBL are attempting to act as bailiffs, but as plain debt collectors. Once again the original alleged debt of £100 is magically transformed to £605, this time by inflating to £340 and then by adding ''escalation of legal proceedings" costs of £265 to get to £605. Thus two template letters have somehow cost DCBL £505 to post. If DCBL manage to get a default judgment for this amount they can then apply for a high court writ and 'send in the bailiffs' to enforce the writ.
Although this letter might not be a fraud, there are still problems.When parking firms use a third party debt collection company, their KADOE contract with the DVLA requires that all correspondence follows the FCA and OFT guidelines for debt collection.
D5. Restrictions on Disclosure of the Data
D5.1. The Customer shall respect the confidentiality of the Data and shall not disclose it to any person, except in the following circumstances:
b) to a sub-contractor who engages in debt collection, with whom the Customer shall have entered into a written contract which requires the sub-contractor to abide by the requirements in SCHEDULE 2, and the FCA Debt Collection Guidance;
This is defined as:
“FCA Debt Collection Guidance” means any guidance and/or codes of practice issued by the Financial Conduct Authority from time to time for businesses engaged in the recovery of consumer credit debts, including the guidance document entitled “Use, format and content of standard debt collection letters” produced by the Credit
Services Association and in association with the Office of Fair Trading and is available on the FCA website.
The various DCBL letters may fall foul of one of more of the requirements
- Letters which set out the potential enforcement actions following non payment of a County Court Judgment (e.g. bailiffs seizing goods, employers deducting money from wages) without indicating that a further application to the court is required before enforcement action can be taken (i.e. to obtain a warrant of execution, attachment of earnings, charging order etc)
- Members are reminded that the granting of judgments and other orders are court decisions and letters should not pre-empt a particular outcome e.g. that a judgment WILL be made
- The OFT referred to the use of standard demand letters set out in a boxed format that closely resemble the layout and appearance of such documents as a County Court Judgment. In the OFT's view, and despite the use of disclaimers such as 'this is not a court or legal document', the format of such letters has the potential to be misleading and breach paragraph 2.2a of the DCG.
- 7.3.14 (1) A firm must not take disproportionate action against a customer in arrears or default.
- 7.7.2 A firm must not claim the costs of recovering a debt from a customer if it has no contractual right to claim such costs
- 7.7.3 A firm must not cause a customer to believe that the customer is legally liable to pay the costs of recovery where no such obligation exists
- 7.7.4 Where a firm has a contractual right to levy default charges, a regulated credit agreement must state the charges and the conditions for making the charge under, as the case may be, the Consumer Credit (Agreements) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/1014) or the Consumer Credit (Agreements) Regulations 1983 (SI 1983/1553).
- 7.7.5 A firm must not impose charges on customers in default or arrears difficulties unless the charges are no higher than necessary to cover the reasonable costs of the firm.
- 7.11.1 When contacting customers, a firm must not misrepresent its authority or its legal position with regards to the debt or debt recovery process.
- 7.11.2 For example, a person misrepresents authority or the legal position if they claim to work on instructions from the courts as bailiffs or, in Scotland, sheriff officers or messengers-at-arms, or in Northern Ireland, to work on instructions from the Enforcement of Judgements Office when this is untrue
- 7.11.3 A firm must not use official looking documents which are designed to, or are likely to, mislead a customer as to the status of the firm
The Parking Prankster