It is important for the post to be despatched correctly and promptly from the Official Receiver’s office. The cost of postage is quite an expensive item. It is not just the price of a stamp; franking machines, pre-paid labels, envelopes, internal delivery services, messengers, post clerks etc. all have to be paid for. Thus, it is important that such resources are not wasted or abused.
Due to the nature of the work, mail sent by the official receiver will often include important documents such as, court orders and legal papers. Consequently, strict time limits may be imposed on the posting of certain items, to allow the recipient a sufficient notice period. For example, a bankrupt must be given at least 21 days notice of the date fixed for his/her public examination. The method of posting certain documents may vary depending not only on the required notice period but also according to the circumstances of the case, for instance in a non-surrender case an item of post e.g. an appointment letter may be sent by recorded delivery post in an attempt to prove that the bankrupt/director/partner is at that address and therefore is aware of the proceedings.
All offices should have a routine for the collection of mail and staff should be aware of the times of collection, particularly the time of the last one each day.
Franking machines are costly and must be maintained properly at all times. The machines are credited regularly with an amount agreed associated to its usage. When this falls to a certain level, the machine must be re-credited according to the system in your office; it should never be allowed to run out of money.
The franking machine must never be used for the posting of any personal mail; its key should not be left in the machine but always locked away. The machine will print the amount of the post and show the return address clearly and so the ink must be topped up regularly.
Generally, the majority of mail will be sent by second class but there may be times when first class delivery is required. Mail intended for first class post should be clearly marked.
Each office will have its own most commonly used addresses, e.g. HQ Birmingham and London, Sheriffs, Courts, Land Registry, etc. Any mail addressed to such destinations should not be sent individually but gathered together each day into one large envelope and posted accordingly.
Wherever possible, the Hays Document Exchange system (DX) should be used, as it is cheaper than the normal postage rates.
It may be more cost effective to send a letter by fax or e-mail rather than by post but you should observe the guidelines set by your local office.
Each OR’s office is a member of Hays Document Exchange (DX). This is a service which enables mail to be transferred between members at an advantageous rate (50% of first class postal rates).
Each member has a unique DX number and this should be quoted on all outgoing correspondence. When replying to correspondence, a DX address should always be used in preference to a postal address, due to the cost savings to the Service. Hays publish an annual Directory of DX Members and this is a useful reference for checking DX numbers. Additionally, such numbers are available in a CD Rom format.
The Insolvency Service is charged annually for its use of the DX, the charge being based on monitored usage. Any queries about the DX service or charges should be raised direct with Hays. If offices are not able to resolve differences they should report the details to PSP, who manage the contract on behalf of The Service and hold regular meetings with Hays.
Some offices mainly in London, Birmingham and Cardiff, have a distribution service that collects and delivers mail between government departments. Any mail for this service should be addressed clearly and marked "IDS or Van". This will be kept separately from the other mail.
Any confidential mail should be placed in a sealed envelope with the name of the addressee; it should be clearly marked "PERSONAL" to ensure that it is not opened by anyone else. As an extra precaution, it can then be placed in a second envelope, addressed to the recipient and marked "ADDRESSEE ONLY ".
The Service expects all staff to use its IT system in a professional way. To this extent it monitors the operation of e-mail traffic and its content. Clarification of the Service’s policy on the use of e-mail, both in a business and personal context is set out in HR Notice 3/01. This is to be read in conjunction with notice HR 12/00.
Each office also has access to an additional e-mail box for use by staff for sending and receiving external communications without the need to disclose their forename as opposed to the standard e-mail address format. Each office will have their own localised procedure for the day-to-day maintenance of this facility. Full details of its operation are set out in Management Notice M39/02.
Recorded delivery is used so that both proof of posting and receipt for the mail can be obtained. Under this system, a recorded delivery sticker is adhered to the front of the envelope. Each sticker has its own unique serial number, which is recorded in a Recorded Delivery Book (supplied by the Post Office). This book is stamped by the Post office when the recorded delivery mail is handed over for posting. In offices where mail is collected by the Post Office, the Postman collecting the mail will undertake this service. The book is the OR’s record of the mail sent by recorded delivery and should always be kept in the office.
When delivering the mail, the Post Office must obtain a signature from any person accepting the letter or it will not be delivered. The recipient must sign a record of its receipt, kept by the postman, noting the serial number, date and time of its delivery. Each office will house a supply of recorded delivery stickers, obtained from the Post Office and these should be numbered consecutively.
Mail sent by recorded delivery should be franked with the appropriate charge for first class mail plus the cost for recorded delivery. Where possible, the number should also be recorded on the ‘back copy’ of the letter. Sometimes, these books can be required as evidence in legal proceedings to prove that a document was sent and/or received.
Packages should be wrapped securely, clearly addressed and then weighed to ascertain the correct amount of postage. It may not always be possible to send larger items through the post in which case a carrier would be needed. Each official receiver should have an account set up with a distribution company that will collect the parcel and then invoice the OR for this service. Express couriers should only be used where documents are required urgently and could not otherwise reach their destination in time. A senior officer must approve the use of a courier before it is engaged.
It is imperative that all correspondence is sent out as dated and not days later. This is particularly relevant when the recipient is granted a specific time period in which to lodge an appeal or objection. For example, when the official receiver sends to proved creditors notice of his/her intention to apply for release, they have 21 days from the date of the notice in which to object to the granting of the release. Thus, it is essential that the notice reaches the creditor promptly.
It is also important to include any known references on all correspondence, as this will help identify the correct recipient of the letter thereby making it possible for the issue to be dealt with promptly.
Where mail is franked and then for whatever reason, is not included in the final despatch to the Post Office, it should not then be placed in a public post box. Certain franking machine suppliers provide specially marked envelopes for mail that has been received late, so that it can be franked and then posted in a public letterbox. In some offices, the cashier may hold a supply of stamps for emergency use. This should rarely happen, as all staff should be fully aware of the time for the last post from the office.
(Amended October 2011)
On certain occasions it may be necessary to provide a certificate of postage, as proof that a document has been sent. For instance, one is required when providing notice of creditors (and contributories) meetings. The relevant procedural parts of this manual will give clear instructions when such a certificate of postage is required but occasionally an examiner may specifically request that one is obtained, as and when necessary.
This type of certificate should not be confused with a certificate of postage that can be provided by the Post Office. The Post Office will complete and seal a small card showing the name, address and date of postage of an item - free of charge.
Offices should wherever possible, use pre-printed labels for frequently used addresses.
Where can I find out more?
The Post Office regularly issues notices and leaflets about its services, particularly after increases or alternatively information may be found by accessing its website: www.royalmail.com
DTI Functional Directory
Notices: HR 12/00 and HR 3/01: Clarification of Internet Policy and Issue of the e-mail policy
Management Notice: M39/02: Additional E-Mail Box for External Communications
Accommodation Notices: A3/02: Post Room Procedures – 21 Bloomsbury Street and A5/02: OR Stockton on Tees: DX
Where a franking machine requires manual adjustments to change the date, staff should ensure that this is done each morning before the machine is used.
Late post - must it go today?