Can I just ignore an enforcement agents (bailiffs)?

Can I just ignore an enforcement agents (bailiffs)?

A common misconception is that avoiding contact with enforcement agents will eventually lead to them giving up and moving on. This is not the case.

The work undertaken by CIVEA members to recover debts to councils is essential to funding local services such as adult social care, leisure facilities, refuse collections, and police and fire services. Uncollected tax and fines mean less money for these services and higher bills for the majority who do pay in full and on time. For this reason, it is fair for enforcement agents to continue to attempt to trace someone with outstanding debt to chase outstanding debts.

The key to sorting out any debt problems is talking. Enforcement agents would prefer not to take away your belongings. They are trained to listen and help you to find a reasonable way to pay what you owe.

Sometimes enforcement agents are deliberately given the wrong information. For example, someone might claim that they have moved away when they haven’t or may move house thinking they will not be tracked. This will not prevent enforcement firms from finding you and attempting again or visiting your new home. By this time, additional fees and costs could have been added to your debt. The enforcement fee structure is designed to encourage people to make contact at an early stage and as a result, half of related debt cases are settled by payment arrangements without need for a visit.

If you wish to dispute the debt, you should address the matter at the earliest opportunity directly. Only the creditor can instruct the enforcement agency to suspend the enforcement action.

People think that they can avoid paying additional fees if they pay their court fine, council tax and traffic fine directly to the creditor after the case has been passed to an enforcement agent. This is incorrect.

Choosing to pay the creditor directly, will not clear your debt or avoid your liability for the fees and the enforcement company will continue in their enforcement action to recover the amounts due.

Agents will also not go away if they are told that the outstanding debt was paid direct to the local authority or the court. A partial payment is split between the court and the enforcement agency, so you will still have charges to pay. You cannot negotiate with your local authority or the court at the enforcement stage and you will not get a more favourable arrangement.

Once a case has been passed to an enforcement agent, the local authority or the court has exhausted its efforts to contact you and is no longer open to negotiation.

Bear in mind, the latter enforcement stages are expensive for enforcement firms who are required to employ agents, hire vehicles and operate sophisticated tracking and body-worn video cameras. Higher fees are applied to the enforcement visit stage to reflect this, but efforts are made to avoid this wherever possible. It is in neither party’s interest to increase the total amount of debt owed by delaying conversations and hoping the problem goes away by itself – it doesn’t, and these actions will only make it harder to resolve the debt quickly.

0844 893 3922

PO Box 745

For general enquiries only, you can contact us by email (, letter or telephone.

If you have a complaint or concern about one of our members, please go to our complaints page for advice

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.