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CIVEA responds to Citizens Advice complaint report

09 January 2019

Complaints process is fair and robust, says Civil Enforcement Association

Responding to Citizens Advice claims that agents are breaking rules and people cannot complain, Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Civil Enforcement Association, said:

Once again, Citizens Advice has undermined an on-going government consultation with some poor quality research1 largely based on the views of 14 advisers and 15 clients. The facts are that the industry complaints process is fair and robust2. It involves listening back to calls from customers, reviewing video footage and even interviewing agents. The local authority is often also consulted. After this highly detailed investigation we frequently find that people are not complaining about the agent but about the debt.”

“A visit by an enforcement agent is always the last resort. To receive a visit, you must have ignored final demands, emails, phone calls and texts. Although complaint levels remain low, we have been developing a new, improved complaints process with a stronger element of independence and expertise, which will give further confidence to any who registers a complaint.”

1 In November Citizens Advice was found to have published statistically invalid research based on the views of just 277 people who have had contact with bailiffs in the past two years. There are 316 bureaux nationwide.

2 Out of around 6 million debts that were collected last year, we had to investigate 130 complaints, 45 of which were upheld. The Local Government Ombudsman recorded 540 cases since 2014 and upheld 36. Where the enforcement process is at fault people are compensated and may have their debt reduced.

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.

In November 2018 the Ministry of Justice published a Call for Evidence as part of its review of regulations introduced in 2014. The consultation closes on 17 February 2019.