Government crackdown on "bad" bailiffs

Following a Ministry of Justice consultation last year, BBC News has today reported that next year the Government will introduce new laws to regulate the bailiff industry in England and Wales.

Justice Minister, Helen Grant has described the new laws as “badly needed”. The majority of the bailiff industry in England and Wales is properly regulated; however there is a small minority that is unregulated and fragmented. BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman says householders and businesses have raised concerns over the harsh approach currently used by bailiffs. The Government has also described the current law as “complex, unclear and confusing”.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (TCEA 2007) came into force in 2007. However Part 3 of the Act which addresses changes in practices relating to debt recovery is yet to be implemented. The aim of this part of the Act is to provide clarity for both debtors and creditors.

The Government is to adopt uniform standards with one set of rules detailing when a bailiff can enter a property, what goods they can seize and what fees they can charge. For example, bailiffs will be banned from entering homes at night time and when there are children alone in a property. They will be prevented from using force against people who owe money and discussing the debts owed with anyone but the debtor themselves.

While many people seem to welcome these proposed changes, their effectiveness has been doubted in the absence of an independent regulator to oversee compliance with the new law.

The topic of how people go about debt recovery will continue to be a controversial topic but, these proposed changes are designed to help both the debtors and the creditors.

Commenting on the proposal, Louise Boyle, Head of Debt recovery at Trethowans Solicitors said; "The topic of how people go about debt recovery will continue to be controversial.  These proposed changes are designed to help both the debtors and the creditors and therefore will hopefully provide some clarity and peace of mind to those unfortunate enough to be in a position of needing the services of a debt recovery specialists."