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What is a bailiff – Enforcement Agent

Dated 5th June 2016

A bailiff is a person who has the legal authority to collect money - and carry out other court duties - from you if you owe that money to another person or organisation. In doing so, they may visit your home and also enter - with your permission - to assess what goods you may have that they can ultimately seize and take away to be sold at auction to recover the money that you owe.

Bailiffs are now known as ‘Enforcement Agents’ which means that they are appointed to enforce any judgment laid down by the various courts which have found that you owe a debtor money and ordered you to pay it back.

The term 'Enforcement Agent' - a relatively new description recognised by all courts - describes the main role, which is enforcing the judgment that you owe money. They are used to enforce the law in relation to collecting what you owe your debtor.

"A bailiff may also visit your home for other reasons, eg to serve court documents or give notices and summons".

 The final act or resort is the use of a bailiff to visit your house to start the process of obtaining the money that you owe – either by payment; or by the seizing of your goods to sell in order to recoup the money that you owe.

All Bailiffs -  Enforcement Agents -  have to follow National Government Codes of Practice when they attempts to seize goods to recover your debt. This code came into practice in April 2014. Prior to that, bailiffs were not subjected to this code. What power does a bailiff have?

County Court Bailiff - Enforcement Agent

 Directly employed by the county court to collect debts such as county court judgments and small fines. They are salaried by the court, and generally easier to deal with regard to installment payments as they are not paid by results.

Certified Bailiff - Enforcement Agents -

 Instructed by the court – magistrate, crown or higher courts to collect/obtain the debt that is owed according to the decision or judgment the court has reached. Certified Bailiffs are often organisations such as companies who employ a number of bailiffs, or hire private bailiffs.

Private Bailiff - Enforcement Agent

 – is one that is normally self-employed or a ‘one-person’ company, that is hired and paid commission on results. He/she will also be paid a fee for each visit made in the process of obtaining payment from you.

Final Notice Stamp(A Debt Collector is NOT a bailiff and does not have the right to seize goods for sale – there are many differences between bailiffs and Debt Collectors. They do not have the the legal powers as a bailiff – though they may pretend to have!)

Bailiffs - The next Step after your final notice from the court, Copyright © image.

All bailiffs have to follow the rules and methods of money collection as laid down by law.

Bailiffs have to adhere to certain criteria that are laid down by government law. It is no longer the case that they can enter your home by smashing sown the front door or other willful vandal act. Bailiffs are now governed by an enforceable set of rules to ensure that they act in a proper and legal manner.

The rules have changed considerably to control what was once seen as bullying tactics by some bailiffs seeking to harass you into paying your debt, or taking things from your home that they were not entitled to do so.

Even though the restrictive rules have changed in favour of the creditor, a bailiff has a main responsibility recognized and encouraged by the legal process of a debtor being able to regain the money they are owed by the creditor (you!) All that is changed is that the bailiff has to use more acceptable methods in collecting your debt from you.

A bailiff visits your home with the express permission of a court or other authorized body.

A private person – or a company – cannot simply employ a bailiff to collect your debt. The bailiff visits only after the issue of an enforcement order by the court. They still have many activities available to ensure that the debt is collected.

You (the debtor) also have rights with respect to how the procedure should be conducted. But if you prolong things, and do not reach an agreement with the bailiff, you may be liable to yet more – and increasing costs – which will considerably add to the total of your debt.

Bailiffs do not come free. There is a cost – which will be added to the debt you owe.



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