Tighter regulation of the bailiff industry
We called on the Government to better regulate bailiffs. We wanted an independent, statutory regulator put in place to:
- issue ‘licences to enforce’ for bailiff firms
- set and monitor compliance with standards
- provide a centralised and cost-free to consumers complaints process, and have the power to order redress and compensation
- compile, monitor and publish complaints data.
‘Licences to enforce’ for bailiff firms would have replaced the current county court certificates that individual bailiffs hold. They would have been be similar to the consumer credit licence currently held by debt collectors. A licence would have forced firms to take responsibility for how bailiffs behave and make it easier to encourage good practice.
A central complaints system, held by an independent complaints handling body, would have helped to put things right when people suffered at the hands of bad bailiff behaviour.
Only some complaints about bailiffs were dealt with by existing independent ombudsman services. For example, the Local Government Ombudsman dealt with complaints about bailiffs employed by local authorities. However, there was no such organisation to deal with complaints about bailiffs collecting all other debts. Complaint processes run by enforcement trade associations and bailiff companies existed but they were not independent so couldn't deal with complaints objectively.