There are different types of Bailiff and Debt Collectors. They are used to collect different types of debts.
- The difference between Bailiffs and Debt Collectors
- Enforcement Agents
- County Court Bailiffs
- High Court Enforcement Officers
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The difference between Bailiffs and Debt Collectors
It is important not to confuse a bailiff with a debt collector. Debt collectors are employees of private debt collection companies.
As part of their standard debt collection process it is common for creditors particularly banking creditors to instruct a debt collection company to try and recover the debt that they are owed. They will generally do this if their own internal collections department has failed to collect the outstanding debt.
A Debt Collector can visit your home and try and meet with you to discuss your debt and how it will be repaid. However they are not bailiffs and do not have the same powers.
Debt Collectors are not allowed to levy distress. In other words they cannot take your belongings and sell them to recover the debt you are owed.
The most common type of Bailiffs are Enforcement Agents (previously known as Certified Bailiffs). They are normally employed by private companies and are used to try to levy distress (take goods and sell them for the repayment of debt).
Enforcement Officers act on a Warrant issued by the Court for debts such as rent, council tax, non-domestic rates, parking fines and CSA arrears. They are not officers of the Court and are not employed by the Court. However they are seen as representatives of the court because they are certified by the court.
Under the certification process the Court is able to exercise a certain amount of control over the standards of competence and conduct of these bailiffs. They are granted their certificate by a County Court Judge which allows them to levy distress (seize goods and sell them to repay debt).
A certified bailiff’s certificate lasts for two years before it has to be renewed. It authorises the bailiff to levy distress anywhere in England and Wales. To obtain a certificate they must satisfy the Judge that they are a “fit and proper person” to hold a certificate and that they have a sufficient knowledge of the law of distress and also that they are not in the business of buying debts.
In April 2014 the law for bailiffs in England & Wales was changed after part 3 of the Tribunals Court Enforcement Act 2007 was introduced. As part of this change Certified Bailiffs are now known as Enforcement Agents.
County Court Bailiffs
County Court Bailiffs are civil servants employed by the Courts. They are used to enforce county court orders and the orders made at tribunals that have been transferred to the county court for enforcement. County Court Bailiffs are managed by senior staff at the Court but also responsible to the District Judge for their actions.
High Court Enforcement Officers & Civilian Enforcement Officers
There are around 70 High Court Enforcement Officers. They are private sector bailiffs appointed to enforce High Court orders and any county court order that the creditor transfers to the High Court for enforcement. The rules governing their appointment are set out in the County Courts Act 2003 and the rules made under it.
Civilian Enforcement Officers (CEOs) are employed by the Magistrates Court under the provision of Section 92 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 and the Magistrates Courts (Civilian Enforcement Officers) Rules 1990 and the Courts Act 2003. These “bailiffs” are able to execute a range of warrants including distress warrants and warrants of arrest and commitment for non-payment of fines and other sums a court has ordered to be paid. In addition they can also enforce warrants of arrest for breaches of community sentences.
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