People warned to get advice on magistrates courts fines

Client visits CAB, Sutton to discuss debts.
Client visits CAB, Sutton to discuss debts.

People who are facing fines from the magistrates’ court are being urged to seek help if they are struggling to keep up with the payments.

The warning comes after staff and volunteers at the Ashfield Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) reported an increase in the number of people contacting them because bailiffs have turned up at their properties when they have fallen behind with their payments.

Deborah Hughes, a debt caseworker at the Sutton-based bureau, says that people should seek advice on managing their debt straight away because in the case of court fines, bailiffs can enter a property to recover goods.

“In the last couple of months we have had an unprecedented number of fines - this could be television licence fines or other fines from the magistrates’ court,” she said.

“As soon as you get your magistrates’ fine come in.”

Mum Natalie Holehan, of Mansfield, has recalled the terrifying moment bailiffs turned up at her house after she fell behind on her fine for not having a television licence.

She said: “It’s not a very nice feeling at all. I tried to set something up through the bailiffs but they said just sit tight - we’re coming.”

Natalie and her family got into financial difficulty after her partner’s hours were cut.

Thankfully, she sought advice from the CAB in time and was able to pay the fine.

She said: “I phoned the CAB and that’s when I got the advice to pay the court directly.

“I then received a letter from the court to say that the case was now closed.”

Meanwhile, Phil Wright, who lives in Annesley Woodhouse, was also faced with bailiffs at his door after receiving a court fine for not providing details when his son committed a motoring offence.

Phil, who is awaiting an operation after being run over in January this year, had split up from his partner and he told magistrates that his former home had been empty so he had not received the fine.

He also said that he had been struggling financially because of his shoulder injury - but his fine was upheld and bailiffs were called in.

“I’m a big ex-rugby player but it was horrible,” he said.

“I have never felt so intimidated and worthless. I couldn’t think where I was going to get the money from.”

After seeking advice from the CAB, Phil was told to pay the court directly and he has not heard from the bailiffs since.

• If you are worried about magistrates’ court fines or other debts call the CAB on 0844 8563411.