'They're doing their jobs under difficult circumstances': Bailiffs speak out over new government laws

Chris Parsons

Civil enforcement bosses have welcomed new laws tackling aggressive bailiffs, who they say can 'tarnish the reputation of those doing an excellent job'.

New government laws to be introduced next year state that bailiffs cannot enter homes at night or use any physical contact when dealing with those who owe money.

Civil enforcement officers will also be banned from entering homes where only children are present, and will have no free rein to fix their own fees.

Many people in debt have recounted anecdotes of overly-aggressive bailiffs, some who even used violence, and others who bully or overcharge in the name of collecting fees or seizing goods.

But a leading civil enforcement official today told Yahoo! that while there are examples of 'bad practice', many bailiffs are doing 'a very difficult job under difficult circumstances'.

Paul Caddy, the president of CIVEA (Civil Enforcement Association), said the changes will give 'simplicity and transparency' in the law which will benefit both bailiffs and those they are collecting from.

Mr Caddy said: "We've been involved in this process for a decade and pushing for these new measures.

"It modernises the law and codifies the practice of what we do.

"Some people would say we're nobodies friends, but I would question that because we are working with over one million orders each year to reclaim in excess of £700m on behalf of the government and put back into the economy.

"If we weren't doing our job all of our council tax payments would go up.

"Every profession suffers from those who fail to meet the standards you set. It casts you in a bad light whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, or a bailiff.

"This new regime should allow for those people to be kicked out of the industry, so they don't tarnish the reputation of those who do an excellent job."

Following a Ministry of Justice consultation, new measures will be introduced by the government to legislate the industry of civil enforcement.

Mandatory training will be brought in, and bailiffs will go through a new certification process.

Mr Caddy said that before the government's changes, there were 'five or six sources of law', which muddied the waters of debt collection.

There are different types of bailiffs, depending on the size of goods or money taken, which can often result in confusion on both sides of each case.

While bailiffs have a bad name with many, he argues that on some occasions those who owe money do not know the legal side of things either.

Mr Caddy added: "A lot of the time bailiffs are doing a difficult job under very difficult circumstances, given some of the complaints we get.

"One person complained that the bailiffs who arrived at their property turned up too early. They got there at 10am, which dosn't strike me as being too early.

"There is a lot of confusion about what they were allowed to do, but this puts it on a standardised footing, including saying what goods can be seized and what can't, and when they can be seized.

"It will also standardise all the information we can give to people, including giving people notice that an enforcement will take place.

"If people don't engage with civil enforcement officers, that's when they can expect to have a visit at their door."

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