Bye Bye Bailiffs, Hello Enforcement Agents

As of the 6 April 2014 Bailiffs will no longer exist following the introduction of The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations2014 as amendments to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Bailiffs will now be called Enforcement Agents who will now be charged with recovering goods and monies from a debtor or business.

The changes are being made to curb the aggressive way bailiffs have been practicing over the years and are seen as a welcome step to help protect people in debt.

There are now three stages of action for enforcement agents

  1. Compliance Stage – They now have to provide the debtor with seven days’ notice before they can take control of their goods. Notice now can be given in many forms which include email and text messages. The enforcement agent can obtain permission from the court to go straight to the Enforcement stage prior to the seven days’ notice if he can justify to the court that there is a potential risk to assets.
  2. Enforcement Stage – Attend on the premises to take control of goods and all associated activities prior to the removal of the goods for sale
  3. Sale Stage – Enforcement Agents attend to either remove the goods for the purposes of sale or commences preparation for sale if the sale is to be held at the premises. This stage concludes when the property is sold or disposed of.

Other significant changes are the list of items that cannot be seized has been significantly extended to ensure that debtors do not face the prospect of losing items required to satisfy basic domestic needs such as Cookers, washing machines etc.

Another change is that the new provisions will help anyone in business or education as computer equipment not exceeding the value of £1,350 which is used for the purpose of carrying on a business or furthering the academic knowledge of the debtor will be considered exempt.

Children and venerable adults are also now protected from not having their goods seized by an Enforcement Agent if they are the only people present at the time of the Enforcement Agents visit.

There are also changes to the timeframe the Enforcement Agents can visit for removing and seizing goods is now between the hours of 6am and 9pm 7 days a week. If the Enforcement Agent is collecting from a business premises they may attend and collect whenever business premises are open. Retails and leisure business will be most affected by these changes.

The fee regime has also been altered with set standard fees which increase significantly for each stage of the Enforcement Agents action. For the Compliance stage there is a set fee of £75. For the enforcement stage the fee increases to £235 plus 7.5% of the value of debt over £1,500 and for the Sale Stage the fee is £110 plus 7.5% of the value of the debt over £1,500. It is hoped that this will encourage all parties to reach an early settlement to stop the escalation of the fees and costs.

The overviews of the changes are

  • Debtors now have more time to seek professional advice from an Insolvency Practitioner, solicitor or debt advisor once they receive notice of enforcement action
  • Enforcement Agents have a stricter set of guideline to adhere to when recovering monies for their clients
  • Enforcement Agents will need to prove to the court that there are significant goods of the debtor/business to be seized before being granted the powers to use reasonable force to gain entry or obtain a warrant

If you or anyone you know is affected by a notice or a visit from an Enforcement Agent, we can no only advise you and make sure they are playing by the rules, but we can solve the financial difficulty or oversight that led to their instruction.

Contact us today for help 0330 900 2000.

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