Clamping down on rogue bailiffs

Intimidating bailiffs are to be subject to renewed scrutiny under plans designed to end aggressive practices and help protect vulnerable people.  Rob Synnott, solicitor specialising in Litigation in our Penzance office said, “The majority of bailiffs work within the law, but it is clear some are making lives a misery and ruining the industry’s reputation.”.

The Government took steps to reform the industry in 2014 which were aimed at limiting the power of bailiffs, in addition to improving transparency and ensuring that debtors were fully aware of their rights.

Having listened to concerns from charities, debt advice organisations and others, the Government launched in late November 2018 a Call for Evidence to seek views on what more should be done to protect the public.

Vulnerable individuals, families, and other victims of unacceptable bailiff behaviour will be asked about tougher protections, including the option of an independent regulator.

The Call for Evidence will allow all those with an interest – including charities and other stakeholders – to speak out on the impact of earlier reforms and on how best to end underhand tactics.  In detail, the Government is seeking views on:

Ensuring compliance with earlier curbs on bailiff powers;
The recognition and treatment of vulnerable people when collecting debt;
The complaints process;
The current fee structure and how this is working to incentivise early payments; and
Suitability of current bailiff regulation and the possibility of an independent regulator.

The collection of debt is necessary for both the economy and the justice system, and bailiffs must be able to carry out their job safely and effectively. But they must act professionally and with respect. Where poor behaviour takes place, Government ministers have indicated that they will not hesitate to take action.

The Call for Evidence sits alongside wider government initiatives to support vulnerable debtors, for example the ‘Breathing Space’ scheme. It will run for 12 weeks, and responses will be analysed to inform next steps.

If you would like legal advice on recovering a debt that is owed to you, please do not hesitate to contact our Rob Synnott on 01736 362 362 to discuss your situation further.

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