CIVEA is the principal trade association representing civil enforcement agencies employing around 2000 certificated enforcement agents in England and Wales.

CIVEA’s members enforce civil debt on behalf of local authorities and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

This includes unpaid council tax, business rates, parking fines, magistrates’ court fines, employment tribunal awards, child support payments, B2B and commercial rent arrears.

In total CIVEA members recover almost half a billion pounds in unpaid taxes and fines each year at no cost to the public bodies themselves.

As local government finances come under continued pressure, the work that our members undertake is becoming increasingly important. 

Every year, councils issue nearly 24 million Council Tax bills to help fund key local services, from adult social care and children’s services, to refuse collections and leisure facilities. Uncollected tax means less money for services and higher bills for residents who do pay on time.

However, the public value of effective enforcement goes well beyond the collection of revenue. 

Enforcement action can be an important trigger for people to seek much needed debt advice and support, and the profession has strict safeguards in place to ensure that the vulnerable are provided with the right protection. 

CIVEA’s members seek to secure payment from those who won’t pay, not those who can’t pay.

CIVEA is the principal trade association representing civil enforcement agencies employing around 2000 certificated enforcement agents in England and Wales. A list of members is here.

CIVEA members enforced around 9 million local authority cases between April 2014 and March 2018, which is approximately 2.2 million cases each year. There were an additional 550,000 cases enforced on behalf of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, bringing the total to approximately 2.8 million per annum.

Therefore, since the Taking Control of Goods Regulations came in to force in April 2014, CIVEA members have dealt with around 10 million Local Authority cases and around 2.6 million HM Courts and Tribunals cases. 

The value of unpaid debt collected in 2018/19 for local authorities was over £400,000,000.

Council Tax recovery rates in England and Wales have remained consistent with on average 97% of people paying their tax.

Around 40% of overdue Council Tax debt is collected at the Compliance Stage.

The main work in verifying, tracing and collecting is carried out at the compliance stage over a period of weeks. This is after council staff have endeavoured to recover the debt themselves. 

Much of this work takes place behind the scenes and, therefore, gets misunderstood. This leads to misinformed complaints about the charges, in which individuals assume that they have been charged £75 simply to send out a Notice of Enforcement.

2.5% of fees and debt from Council Tax cases that are paid in full are collected at the Sale Stage. Less than 1% of those cases result in goods being taken into control and sold at auction. This is predominantly vehicles, which are the most common high value possessions.

The most recent figures from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman show that, between 1 April 2014 and 31 December 2018, out of over 54,800 decisions only 164 involved enforcement agents. Of those investigated approximately 50 cases were upheld.

Between 1st February 2018 and 31st January 2019 CIVEA received 244 complaints. CIVEA has an uphold rate of 41% of those complaints that reached a resolution.

Certificated enforcement agents were previously called bailiffs. Enforcement agents are normally employed by a private company and, as such, are not officers of the court, but they are certified by the court. The certification process enables the court to exercise a degree of control over the standards of competence and conduct of enforcement agents.

The enforcement agent certificate, granted by the County Court, authorises the enforcement agent to work anywhere in England and Wales. The certificate must be renewed every two years. To qualify for a certificate, the applicant must satisfy the court that they are a “fit and proper” person to act as an enforcement agent. The applicant must prove that they have a sufficient knowledge of the law and procedure evidenced by Level 2 or equivalent Training in the Taking Control of Goods Regulations and provide a security bond.

Certificated enforcement agents enforce non-High Court orders this includes non-payment of council tax, business rates, parking and traffic offences, fines from the Magistrates’ Court’s, non-payment of child support, or a failure to pay commercial rent.

0844 893 3922


PO Box 745

If you wish to make a complaint against a member of CIVEA, please go to our complaints page and follow the procedure detailed there. Your email will be acknowledged within 5 working days.

CIVEA is unable to discuss complaint matters over the telephone and complaints should be sent in writing. This is to ensure that the details of your complaint are accurately recorded and understood which makes it easier in addressing your complaint thoroughly. Please advise if you have a disability, so that we can make reasonable adjustments.

Media Contact

Contact us

You can contact us by email, letter or telephone.