Press release

Government announces legal regulation of bailiffs

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A major legal overhaul of the bailiff industry was announced today by Jonathan Djanogly. For far too long there has been…

A major legal overhaul of the bailiff industry was announced today by the Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly.

For far too long there has been no formal protection against aggressive bailiffs and the government is determined to stamp out rogue practices by introducing a number of legal reforms.

The Ministry of Justice will today launch a consultation which sets out how ethical activity should be enshrined in law so bailiffs can continue to enforce the payment of debts and fines.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said:

‘Too many people have experienced intrusive, expensive and stressful bailiff action and more often than not the public do not hold bailiffs in high regard, despite the fact most bailiffs carry out their work professionally.

‘Last month we announced the first stage of reforms with updated national standards and we are now unveiling plans for legally-binding changes that will clamp down on bad practices.

‘We want to restore balance to the system, improve clarity for both debtors and creditors, strengthen protection for vulnerable people and ensure that individuals, business and government are able to collect the debts they are owed - but in a way that is fair and regulated by law.’

This consultation will set out proposals which will seek to:

  • prohibit the use of force against a person with safeguards to protect children
  • remodel and clarify the complaints process available to the debtor
  • create minimum entry standards and certification process to ensure bailiffs are fit to operate
  • set out when and how a bailiff can enter a property
  • set out to whom and under what circumstances reasonable force to enter premises will be available
  • make clear which items an enforcement agent may not take from someone’s home; and
  • make clear what fees bailiffs can charge for the range of debts that they collect for local government, courts and businesses.

Bailiffs play an important role in both the economy and the justice system and without them creditors would not be able to lend and the effectiveness of the courts would diminish. The government has already been discussing the consultation details with both the public advice sector and the bailiff industry to ensure the measures we propose are clear and workable.

Notes to editors

  1. Read and respond to the consultation paper: Transforming bailiff action
  2. Copies of the consultation paper have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office.
  3. The consultation will run until 14 May 2012. A response paper is scheduled to be published in October 2012.
  4. Ministry of Justice new national standards for enforcement officers
  5. Guidance on bailiff action on DirectGov
  6. For more information, please call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536