Dealing with Bailiffs operates a helpline for people looking for help with bailiff problems. It also offers self-help through beatthebailiffs.org. The customer fact-find results are available on XLaw.
The campaign looks to introduce seven key recommendations, which are:
- 1. The bailiff industry should be independently regulated.
A regulation must have statutory powers to compel enforcement companies to comply with regulations and punish those that do not.
This government and previous governments dismissed introducing a regulator. Successive governments are unlikely to introduce a regulator because the government stands to lose the most.
- 2. There should be a free, clear, transparent and accessible bailiff complaints procedure.
- 3. There should be a clear, simple and universally applicable procedure that allows people to apply to suspend action by bailiffs.
- Magistrates Courts. CPR 84, 85 and Sections 14 and 85 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980
Traffic Debts. CPR 75, 84 and 85. Practice direction 75 Paragraph 8.1
Council Tax. Section 82 of the Local Government Act 2003
High Court Writs. CPR 83, 84 and 85
- 4. Bailiff fees should be restructured, to incentivise good practice.
- 5. Bailiffs should use a prescribed and consistent framework for agreeing affordable repayments.
- 6. There should be procedures in place to identify vulnerable people and protect them from enforcement.
- 7. Creditors should be required to act responsibly and do demonstrably more to collect debt before resorting to enforcement.
The rest of the report is bulked out with case examples and statistics.
The case samples quoted and statistics given may be a representational sample of customers approaching a debt advice charity. They are not a sample of customers looking for advice on non-compliant bailiff action.
Customers approaching Dealing with Bailiffs have an enforcement related problem. They never ask for debt advice. They complain that debt advice charities focus on providing debt management products and overlook whether enforcement action is compliant.
My key recommendations are:
Delete regulation(4)(1)(a) of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. Enforcement agents abuse this rule and over-value trade (exempt) vehicles to place them above the £1350 threshold.
Amend regulation 4(1)(d) of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 to exempt any vehicle owned or kept by a person having a disabled blue badge. Debtors do not know they must display the disabled blue badge in the vehicle to maintain exemption. Enforcement Agents take and sell disabled people's vehicles exposing the taxpayer the burden of funding a Motability vehicle.
Delete regulation 6 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. Amend Regulation 5 to apply to all debt streams. This will protect debtors from high fees by transferring up of low-value judgments to the High Court.
Amend regulation 5(1)(a) of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. The compliance stage fee £75 to apply when the debtor is given the Notice of Enforcement. Debtors cannot identify the date an enforcement agent is instructed when attracting the £75 compliance stage fee.
Delete regulation 8 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. Enforcement agents do not give notice preventing debtors settling before the £235 enforcement stage fee applies. Replace it with CPR Part 6 - Service of Documents. It provides irrefutable methods of giving a Notice of Enforcement. It disposes of any question whether or not the debtor is given notice under Paragraph 7(1) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
Insert after Paragraph 26(1)(b) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, (c)the sum adjudged to pay excluding enforcement fees and costs. Enforcement agents are not forthcoming with the sum the debtor has been ordered to pay.
A new regulation to identify and remedy an excessive levy. Enforcement agents take control of goods of a higher value when goods relative to the debt are available. Protects debtors from multiple vehicles being taken into control for a single debt to attract income from expenses in connection with taken them into control.
Amend section 8 of the High Court and County Courts Jurisdiction Order 1991. The threshold to transfer to the High Court to be pegged to the threshold for allocating county court claims to the small claims track. This will protect debtors with low-value judgments from disproportionately high enforcement fees. The HCEOA will vigorously oppose it. It lobbied Parliament for the interests of its members on several occasions to reduce the threshold for judgments transferred to the High Court down to its present £600
Delete Regulation 35(2) of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. Enforcement agents self-value controlled goods to their own agenda. They re-value them ad-hoc when the original valuation becomes inconvenient.
Delete Paragraph 85.5(6) of Practice Direction 85. Delete Paragraph 60(4) and (5) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. Enforcement companies abuse PD 85.5(6) to deliberately cause an interpleader claim to fail. They believe the interpleader claimant lacks funds to make the required payment to the value of the inter-pleaded goods into court. Enforcement agents deliberately take other people's goods into control knowing the owner is unable to make the required payment. Claimants can seek direction to vary the required payments but limited to Court discretion. It disadvantages unrepresented and low-income claimants and forces them to seek remedy under section 3 of the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977. Making an interpleader claimant pay a sum to the value of his goods into court serves no purpose in assisting the court to establsh ownership of interpleaded goods.