Most people never have dealings with bailiffs or Enforcement Agents as we are now called. Consequently when they need to reclaim money or reclaim property they are not sure of which type of bailiff to use or how to instruct one.
There are usually three main reasons to why you may want to use a bailiff:
• You need to reclaim money owed
• You need to reclaim a property
• You need trespassers removed from your land.
There are currently three types of bailiff that deal with these types of cases in England & Wales. These are as follows:
County Court Bailiffs
These people are salaried civil servants that work for the Ministry of Justice and a couple are usually assigned to each local County Court. They mainly undertake mortgage company repossessions, some landlord repossessions, and warrants of delivery for finance companies getting cars back. They also execute small claims warrants under £600.
Certificated Enforcement Agents
These people are appointed by the court but do not work directly for the court. They were formerly known as Certificated Bailiffs and are the most common type of bailiff. They work for Private Enforcement Agencies, High Court Enforcement Officers and local authorities. They collect monies for local authorities like Council Tax, Business rates and Parking Penalties. They work for government departments like the Magistrate Courts collecting fines and making arrests. For the private sector they work for commercial landlords collecting rent arrears, evicting commercial tenants and removing trespassers and squatters from land. When you have a Court Judgment for over £600 or a difficult possession claim they can execute writs of control and possession if authorised by a High Court Enforcement Officer. Most of the Enforcement agencies have an arrangement with a High Court Enforcement Officer or have one or more on staff.
High Court Enforcement Officers
At the time of writing there are currently 42 High Court Enforcement Officers in England & Wales. When enforcing a County Court judgment in England and Wales and your judgment is below £600 including costs then you MUST use the County Courts own bailiffs. If it is above £600 you can have your case transferred up from the County Court, where you obtained your Judgment, to the High Court for enforcement. This process is called transferring and the law says that the execution of the writ (warrant) must be completed by a qualified and Certificated Enforcement Agent (formerly Bailiff) who is under the supervision of a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO). These HCEO are very experienced and well qualified bailiffs who are authorised to execute judgments and transfer cases up to the High Court by the Lord Chancellor. They sit between members of the public and the bailiffs that they employ or contract to and ensure the conduct of the file through to enforcement or other conclusion.
Quality Professional Certificated Enforcement Agents should be members of a recognised trade association and carry both professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance. The three main trade associations are:
• Civil Enforcement Association CIVEA
Some are members of more than one and some bailiffs are also investigators and members of the Association of British Investigators (ABI), which is a useful combination.
Unless you are a commercial landlord or have problems with trespassers on land you cannot instruct a bailiff without first of all gaining a court order or judgment.
This article was written by ABI Member Andy Coates MABI MCEAA (F/1232). Andy has over twenty five years experience in the bailiff and investigation industries, being current Vice President of the CEAA, also former governing council member of CIVEA and ABI.