• Consultation Paper on Transforming Bailiff Action

On Friday the 17th of February 2012, the Government finally produced the very long awaited and anticipated Consultation Paper on “transforming bailiff action”. The paper sets out the Governments proposals on how they intend to provide more protection against aggressive bailiffs and encourage more flexibility in bailiff collections.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice, Jonathan Djanogly stated that, “Bailiffs are one of the backstops of both our economy and justice system. They play an important role recovering money, and help create the conditions for a market economy and the rule of law to thrive”.

The proposals will look at the regulatory regime, the requirements for competence, a new fee structure, remedies and complaints handling, and more importantly for civil court users - High Court and County Court Jurisdictional order 1991.

Our Association has for many years advocated that bailiffs need proper regulation, and members of the general public need protection against the “aggressive bailiff”.  As an Association we painfully went through reform in 2004 when the Sheriff system endured the transformational change that we see today. We believe that the High Court Enforcement Officers Association and its members have become for more professional and service minded since our reforms.  In fact, Civil Court Users agree with us, inasmuch as, we receive more instructions for transfer up to the High Court for enforcement. In fact over 50% of County Court Judgments (business debts) are now transferred to the High Court compared to 6% or 7% prior to 2004.  A fact that Ministers surely cannot ignore.

The proposals outlined within the Consultation Paper will also have a similar effect on the bailiff industry that, of restoring public confidence in the Civil Justice System that often sees bailiffs derided as a necessary evil.   

We would welcome any change that offers protection to the general public, to a fee structure that is transparent, proportional, fair, and just, that offers a reasonable profit so that Organisations can invest in proper training of their staff, in handling complaints effectively, and in offering a level of service that exceeds the expectations of those who require people and companies to comply with the orders of a Judge.

Over the coming weeks our Association will be forming a working party of exceptionally qualified Authorised Officers to formulate a considered response to this paper, it is an exciting time for us but not unexpected.

By Martin Leyshon – Chairman of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association.  

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