A bailiff is also referred to as an enforcement agent in the legal system. This is a person who has been requested to:
- Carry out an eviction for a landlord
- Enforce a debtor to pay a fine or debt for a creditor
- Repossess goods for a creditor
Bailiffs have the authority to take possessions of your belongings and sell them in order to repay your creditors. However, the court will only send the bailiff to recover these items if you do not repay your monthly obligations as determined by the court.
If you are struggling to pay your debts, and you are concerned that you will be threatened with further court action, or you have already received a letter from the bailiff, you should seek out advice from a competent legal representative.
What are Bailiffs?
Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who work on behalf of the court to carry out certain legal actions and collect debts. There are several different types of bailiffs, and their job duties vary depending on the debt they are attempting to collect.
A Sheriff Officer works in a certain region and he or she works out of a local Sheriff’s office. If the creditor has a judgment in the County Court and the debt exceeds a certain amount, the creditor can transfer collection of the debt to the local Sheriff’s office. If the debt is regulated by CCA (Consumer Credit Act), there is a possibility that it can only be collected through the County Court.
A Magistrate’s bailiff reports to the Clerk of Court. He or she collects debts that are owed in criminal cases.
Situations where Bailiffs are used
Bailiffs may be asked to retrieve goods from your home if you do not pay your creditors, and the debt has been passed to the court for collection. Bailiffs can also repossess your home or enforce warrants for arrest.
Power of Entry
Typically, you do not have to allow bailiffs entry into your business or home between the hours of 9pm and 6am. Bailiffs are not allowed to use force in order to gain entry into your property the first time. Bailiffs are only allowed to enter your property in a non-forceful dealing with Bailiffs manner. This simply means that a bailiff can enter your home or business through:
- Loading docks
They cannot enter your property through climbing a fence or wall, climbing into a window, taking off the boards in a floor.
Once the bailiff has entered your home peacefully, they will search your home or business first. They will not actually take any items; they will only make a list of items that will need to be seized at a later date. They have the right to access every room in your property, and normally may use force to enter other areas of your home or business if empowered to do so.
You cannot be jailed for not allowing a bailiff into your home or business. However, you should seek legal advice as quickly as possible. The bailiff must not use threats to enter your property (unless it is within their rights, as may have been conferred upon them by a competent court), or use offensive language.
It is best to contact an attorney if you are facing possible bailiff enforced debt action. Understand what your rights are and preferably take actions as advised by the attorney. This would minimize the risks of your violating the law further and be open for fresh charges for illegal actions.