New legally-binding rules for bailiffs will be introduced following proposals which have been announced by the government. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has issued proposals for the new rules in a bid to ensure that bailiffs operate fairly towards debtors while still recovering debt effectively.
The proposals for the new rules include:
• New rules around the modes and times that bailiffs will be allowed to enter a property.
• Clarity over which goodsa bailiff can or cannot take from someone’s home or business premises.
• Rules on what fees bailiffs can add to the debts they are collectiong.
James Falla, personal debt expert at beatmydebt welcomed the news. "The conduct of bailiffs trying to collect unpaid debts is often unacceptable and goes largely unchecked. It will be extremely valuable to have a clear set of rules that members of the public can clearly understand so that they know their rights and can stand up against intimidation" he said.
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National standards for debt enforcement
The MoJ has also announced updated national standards to define acceptable behaviour for enforcement agents, and tightened the voluntary code so that people are protected from “rogue bailiffs” who use unsound, unsafe or unfair methods.
The additions to the National Standards are intended to tackle intimidating and threatening behaviour, prevent bailiffs from misrepresenting their powers, and reinforce rules about how firms should resolve complaints about rogue agents.
Councils and other authorities will adopt the standards, which will be used to set rules for any bailiffs working for them.
The updated National Standards include:
• Bailiffs must not behave in a threatening manner or use unlawful force to gain access to a home or business;
• Bailiffs should avoid discussing the debt with anyone except the person owing money, and must never behave in a way that would publicly embarrass a debtor;
• Bailiffs must withdraw when only a child is present
• Bailiffs have a duty of care towards vulnerable people, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, single parents and unemployed people and must use discretion when collecting debts from these groups.