My Department worked closely with creditors and the enforcement profession to produce and issue the national standards for enforcement agents, available from the DCA website. The standards are a best practice guide intended for use by all enforcement agents, public and private, the enforcement agencies that employ them and the major creditors who use them. The standards have been widely endorsed by the trade associations representing bailiffs and advise that discretion should be used when dealing with those who might be potentially vulnerable, including the elderly, people with a disability and single parent families.
The regulatory impact assessment for the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill published on 30 January 2007 estimates that there are 1,200 uncertificated bailiffs. As at 30 March 2007 the Register of Certificated Bailiffs maintained by HMCS currently lists 1,482 certificated bailiffs. There should be no bailiffs doing work requiring certification who do not hold a current certificate.
Complaints made against bailiffs, be they certificated or non-certificated, can be made by telephone or writing to the firm that the bailiff works for, the organisation who employed the bailiff to act on their behalf or the magistrates court that issued the enforcement order. Complaints against certificated bailiffs can also be made to the court that granted certification to the bailiff and to the Enforcement Officers Association, or the Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies, which are responsible for promoting higher standards within the profession. HMCS leaflet EX345 details the procedure for complaints about bailiffs and recommends seeking legal advice before starting this process.
Bailiffs’ fees are included in the sum to be paid by the offender or debtor. There is no single statutory fee structure but different fees depending on the type of debt and where responsibility for enforcing that debt lies.
The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill, currently progressing through Parliament, will further regulate the activities of bailiffs and introduce a single simplified fee structure designed to support the principles of transparency, consistency and proportionality.