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Debt Collection

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will take steps to provide safeguards in relation to the activity of bailiffs for people with mental health problems who are in debt. (205268)

I have been asked to reply.

An enhanced and extended certification procedure for those enforcement agents who take control of goods, has been taken forward in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. The Act provides for the future compulsory regulation of all enforcement agents who take control of goods, and who are not Crown employees, via an enhanced and extended certification process. There will be a training requirement that will include knowledge of how to deal appropriately with vulnerable debtors.

Having secured the legislation, further public consultation is required to develop the underpinning rules and regulations. A development plan is being completed during May 2008 that will contain a timetable for implementation, together with a list of issues to be consulted on.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what mechanisms are in place to inform people of their rights in relation to action being taken against them by bailiffs. (205269)

I have been asked to reply.

Bailiffs’ powers currently stem from common law and numerous pieces of legislation resulting in an array of mechanisms depending on the type of debt or type of agent responsible for enforcement.

HMCS produce a leaflet, EX345 “About Bailiffs and Enforcement Officers”, detailing who bailiff and enforcement officers are, how they recover money, the complaints procedure and where to find free and independent advice.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which received Royal Assent on 19 July 2007, introduces a single piece of bailiff law which brings together in one place the legal structure for all warrant enforcement, written in terms that are easily understandable and which clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of creditors, debtors and enforcement agents.