Bailiff Legal Powers
Three types of Bailiff
There are for the purposes of debt recovery three main types of bailiff. Each has slightly different roles and powers depending upon the type of debt they are trying to recover.
The three types of bailiff are:
- Certificated Enforcement Agents
- High Court Enforcement Officers
- County Court Bailiffs
Regardless of whether you have been visited by a bailiff, or want to hire one it is important to know what powers bailiffs have, and which ones do which kinds of debt collection.
Since 2014 Bailiffs are now officially called Certificated Enforcement Agents. But most people still call them bailiffs and we will refer to them as bailiffs in this article.
A Bailiff has the power to take control of the goods of a debtor and sell them to recover the debt, costs, and fees.
What laws give them their powers?
All bailiffs enforcing debt warrants and writs get their powers primarily from Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
Section 14 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 states: “14(1) An enforcement agent may enter relevant premises to search for and take control of goods.”
Relevant premises are defined as relevant if the enforcement agent reasonably believes that they are the place, or one of the places, where the debtor (a)usually lives, or (b)carries on a trade or business.
The enforcement agent must of course have an enforcement power directed to them such as a writ, warrant or liability order, and can only use force to gain an entry in a limited set of circumstances set out in the legislation.
If the goods are on a third-party premise, then there is a procedure for obtaining a warrant of specified premises under section 15 (1) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
Can a bailiff break into my property?
In most circumstances the bailiff must gain peaceable entry, such as walking through an unlocked front door, to be able to take control of goods. Or find a vehicle outside on the premises or on the highway.
The use of force to break in depends what the debt is for. The following circumstances allow for forced entry to a property.
- If the debt is for criminal fines, and the bailiff is enforcing a Warrant of Control under section 76(1) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 then a bailiff can force entry if you refuse to let them in or you ignore them.
- If the property is commercial and the bailiff is enforcing a High Court Writ then a bailiff can force entry if you refuse to let them in or ignore them.
- If the Bailiff is authorised by HMRC then a bailiff can force entry if you refuse to let them in or ignore them.
- If a bailiff is trying to enforce a High Court Writ and you refuse to let them in or you ignore them the bailiff can apply to the Court under section 20 (1) Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 to be granted a warrant to use reasonable force to enter.
What are the key differences between the types of Bailiffs?
They are authorised by a local court (hence the term certificated). To become certificated the person needs a minimum level 2 qualification in taking control of goods, be DBS checked, be checked for insolvency issues and court judgements. The checks are repeated every two years.
They enforce Warrants of Control for commercial rent, a parking offence, Liability Orders for Council tax and business rates. When authorised by a High Court Enforcement Officer they can enforce Writs of Control.
It is rare these days for a High Court Enforcement Officer to personally enforce their own writs. Instead they delegate their powers to a Certificated Enforcement Agents (Bailiff).
A High Court Enforcement Officer will send the Bailiff to:
- Enforce High Court judgments.
- Enforce County Court judgments over £600 that have been transferred to the High Court.
- Enforce Employment Tribunal and ACAS awards.
- Enforce Orders for Possession for the recovery of property, including land.
- Enforce Orders for Delivery to repossess specific goods.
County Court Bailiff
County Court Bailiffs are employed bailiffs of the County Court. They usually enforce small claims warrants under £600, and bank repossessions.
Read more about the services Quality Bailiffs provide.
read more High Court enforcement news articles