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The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) launched a consultation on bailiff action on 17 February 2012. The paper, which can be found at https://consult. justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-bailiff-action (external website), sets out proposals for transforming bailiff action and providing more protection against aggressive bailiffs, and follows on from the MoJ’s publication of non-binding national standards for enforcement agents, effective from 13 January 2012.

Despite their important role in the economy (without remedies to recover debt and bailiffs to enforce those, creditors would be unable to lend in the first place) some do not hold bailiffs in high regard. This is largely due to the fact that, whilst the majority undertake their difficult role in an appropriate and effective manner, an unscrupulous minority of bailiffs have been reported as resorting to aggressive and intimidating tactics.

Of course, bailiffs need to be able to enforce the law, and the paper sets out the MoJ’s proposals to balance the competing rights of the creditor with the freedoms of the debtor; allowing bailiffs to be assertive and firm in pursuit of their enforcement objectives, whilst tackling the excessive and unsavoury behaviour exhibited by some.

In particular, the paper sets out the following as the key areas which need to be addressed and balanced:

Providing more protection against bailiffs whilst spelling out the need for effective enforcement.

  • A fair, transparent and sustainable costs regime that provides adequate remuneration.
  • Minimising excessive regulation on business whilst ensuring effective protection for the vulnerable.

Views are invited on the proposals, from anyone with an interest in this area, until the consultation concludes on 14 May 2012.

Katie Norman, Trainee Solicitor, Irwin Mitchell

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