Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bailiffs

We are moving towards resolution of Bailiff regulation, I think. I hosted a very constructive meeting of the industry and their critics in the Lords today - full agreement on the main issue of the need to regulate bailiffs, and on some lesser ones such as the right of bailffs to force entry (with a warrant, or to get at controlled goods), methods of taking control of goods (leave to regulations as it's too complicated for the face of the bill), and of bailiffs right to physically restrain debtors (not needed).

Now all we have to do is convince the government, and though they are being tiresomely cagey they are at least talking.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regulation is very important- but it must rank equally with reform of fees- something which has yet to be given little attention in the debates. In my experience problems with rights of entry/ seizure of exempt goods and the like are all motivated ultimately by the need to have conducted a levy. In most cases from the levy flows further fees; without a levy, the bailiff is limited to very modest visit fees. The 'foot in the door' (almost literally) permits the bailiff to charge the 'big' fees. Major reform to the fee scale and to the debtor's ability to challenge unreasonable or unlawful fees is essential to ensure that any good benefits from the Bill are not to be subverted. At present we do not know exactly what the government intends.

4:18 pm  
Blogger Ralph Lucas said...

Quite. HMG are, as you say, undecided on much of the detail, though they are aimed in the right direction, and we'll have to wait for regulations to see what they are prepared to do.

Bailiff companies are so wedded to the current lucrative structure that any preciptate cold turkey might disrupt debt collection

12:13 pm  
Blogger stedewhurst said...

Increased regulation of the industry is supported my most of the larger bailiff companies, in order to minimise or completely eradicate individual rogue bailiffs.
With regard to fees you have to remember that the debtor will probably have had at least half a dozen opportunities to pay the outstanding debt, either in full or by instalments. The charging of fees from the levy stage needs to properly reflect the work that has already gone into trying to collect the debt. Reasonable fees are currently individually interpreted by each bailiff/bailiff company.
The key here is that if all fees are to become statutory then there will be a need to build a fair and robust charging structure.

2:43 pm  

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