In a major reform to civil enforcement an independently-monitored code of practice that sets a new standard for bailiffs has been announced in London today.
All members of the Civil Enforcement Association, representing over 90 per cent of firms employing enforcement agents (bailiffs) have signed up to the code, which involves a detailed compliance audit and review by a newly-formed independent panel, the Compliance, Adjudication and Review of Enforcement (CARE) Panel.
The code builds on the existing industry code and is a response to calls for better supervision of enforcement agents after an inquiry by MPs. CIVEA has taken proactive steps in line with the Justice Select Committee recommendations. These include:
Russell Hamblin-Boone, CEO of the Civil Enforcement Association that represents firms employing more than 2000 active agents, announced the reform at the association’s conference. He said:
“Local authorities and the public expect us to collect unpaid public debt efficiently from those who won’t pay while supporting sensitively those who can’t pay. The code sets standards that exceed the statutory regulations and involves scrutiny by compliance advisors who will report to an independent panel of experts. The code is a commitment by the enforcement industry to continue driving up standards and setting a high bar for anyone who wants to join our profession.”
The CARE Panel comprises of experts in compliance, complaints handling, regulation and consumer affairs. The panel will receive reports from the Code assessor on CIVEA members conduct and compliance; review complaints submitted to CIVEA where a final decision has been made by a member (this only applies to HMCTS and transport-related complaints); and offer expert advice to the CIVEA executive.
All CIVEA members will be assessed against for compliance with the new Code within the first 12 months.***
* The members of the Compliance, Adjudication and Review of Enforcement Panel are:
Dr Wendy Kennett, Lecturer at Law School, Cardiff University
David Pickering, former CEO of Lending Standards Board and compliance specialist
Caroline Wells, vulnerable consumer and complaints expert
Sheila Harding, industry expert and founder of Bailiff Advice Online
** Published figures suggest that 90 per cent of cases passed to enforcement companies already fall within its jurisdiction
*** The Panel will be supported by a Code auditor that will assess compliance against the Code and report within the first 12 months of its operation. A tender process is in place for the Code auditor service.
Notes for editors:
The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) is the principal trade association representing c2000 certificated 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 MOJ last commented on the Call for Evidence in a PQ on 22 July.
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