Bailiffs not above the law.

12th April 2019.

MPs on the Parliamentary Justice Committee  are looking to regulate bailiffs.

The committee has called for bailiffs to be independently regulated to put a stop to them breaking the rules to collect debts.

The Parliamentary Justice Committee says a regulator is required to make sure people in debt are treated fairly.

It added that debt enforcement is “under-regulated” because reforms in 2014 which ensured debt collectors were not acting aggressively were not legally-binding and there was no independent regulator to enforce them.

Chair of the Committee, Bob Neil said “We were surprised that no regulator is already in place. The system is confusing, particularly for the most vulnerable people in society. Complaints are important and must be investigated properly”.

Mr Neill said: “We’re calling on the government to consult on whether new powers should sit with an existing body or a new one, and how it should be funded.”

The committee calls the existing system in England and Wales of individual certification “a rubber-stamping exercise”.

It is recommending:

  • A new regulator with powers to bar bailiffs from operating
  • An independent complaints body
  • Mandatory body cameras for all enforcement agents


The committtee’s call  follows a sharp rise in the number of cases of bailiffs  being accused of using intimidating behaviour;  threatening to break into peoples’ home, even for debts where the law does not support such action.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has recorded a 16% rise in the number of complaints regarding problem bailiffs year-on-year ending 31st March. Its chief executive said the government should “introduce these reforms as a matter of urgency”.

Ms Guy said: “It’s excellent to see MPs from across all parties call for a regulator to crack down on the bailiff industry. They’ve also rightly called for a complaints process to be established, so problems are dealt with independently of the bailiff industry and outside the court system.

“All eyes will now be on the Ministry of Justice, which must introduce these reforms as a matter of urgency.”

In November, the Civil Enforcement Association which represents civil enforcement agencies operating in England and Wales responded to Citizens’ Advice’s report that called for tougher regulation. Chief executive Russell Hamblin-Boone said: “It is of great concern that Citizens Advice fails to make a distinction between laws that are broken and laws that people simply don’t like.

“For example, in the [Citizens Advice] report it is assumed that a threat to force entry to a property or to remove goods required for work purposes is breaking the regulations. That is simply incorrect and depends on the circumstances. It is shocking that agents are being accused of acting illegally based on such flimsy evidence.”

Increasingly bailiffs are used to collect council tax arrears. A survey in 2016 by StepChange Debt charity found that 51% of clients who were contacted by bailiffs were being chased for council tax arrears.

On Wednesday the Government said it would improve the way council tax debt is recovered.

It said it was bringing in new guidance to help end aggressive repayment enforcement tactics following concerns from charities, debt advice bodies and local councils.

Peter Tutton, head of policy at StepChange debt charity, said: “Enforcement by bailiffs is intrusive and places disproportionate costs on people in the most vulnerable circumstances.

“It is also key that the committee have recommended oversight of the fees charged by bailiffs to ensure these are proportionate and just.”

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Read our blog here on how to crack down on the late payment culture.

Read our blog here on how to give late payers the slap they need.

visit our late payment compensation page

See our full blog and FAQ on late payment compensation

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