CIVEA responds to Citizens Advice call for bailiff regulation
“This report is heavily based on the views of just 277 people who have had contact with bailiffs in the past two years. It is worrying that debt advisers consider it acceptable to exaggerate figures when they cannot get robust data. It is of great concern that Citizens Advice fails to make a distinction between laws that are broken and laws that people simply don’t like. For example, in the report it is assumed that a threat to force entry to a property or to remove goods required for work purposes is breaking the regulations. That is simply incorrect and depends on the circumstances. It is shocking that agents are being accused of acting illegally based on such flimsy evidence.
“A visit by an enforcement agent is always the last resort. In order to receive a visit you must have ignored final demands, emails, phone calls and texts. Agents are highly trained and must follow a process set out in detailed regulations to ensure that they collect unpaid council tax and court fines fairly. Of course, agents need to be assertive when chasing down people who refuse to pay their council tax or court fines. But if there is any genuine evidence that agents are acting illegally then we will investigate and take the necessary action. So, if we are to continue working together to drive up industry standards, we must avoid an emotionally-charged debate and instead focus on robust facts and strong evidence.”
The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) is the principal trade association representing civil enforcement agencies operating in England and Wales.
Enforcement agents (formerly known as bailiffs) are regulated by the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, Schedule 12 and the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013.
The Ministry of Justice published a One year review of Enforcement Agent reforms in March 2018 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/695833/one-year-review-bailiff-reform-web.pdf
The first review of those reforms showed positive progress since our changes. This includes better awareness around debtor rights and how to complain, more clarity for debtors about the fees that can be charged, the processes that should be followed, and where to go for advice.
It also found the overall effectiveness of proper enforcement has improved, with a greater proportion of debts now being successfully enforced.
In light of lingering concerns over aggressive behaviour by minority of bailiffs, the Ministry will be publishing a Call for Evidence.