When you are unable to pay your debts, your creditor may appoint a Bailiff to collect the debt on their behalf. There are different types of Bailiffs; county court, certificated, private etc... Different Bailiffs have different powers to collect debts. But there are certains rules and regulations that apply to ALL Bailiffs. We have outlined some of these below.
You cannot be arrested or imprisoned by a Bailiff. If they have the police with them, it is merely to prevent a breach of the peace, so don't feel threatened by this. You cannot be arrested for refusing a Bailiff entry into your home. The only way you can be imprisoned for not paying your debts is by willfully refusing to pay council tax, child maintenance or magistrates court fines. This means that the magistrates must be satisfied that you have the money but choose not to pay.
When a Bailiff has gained peacful entry to your home, they will normally try to look for and take goods that they can seize. When they are in the house they have access to enter ALL rooms and can break open a locked door or a cupboard. After the bailiff has gained peaceful entry s/he has the right to call again and enter even without your permission, i.e. s/he can break in and remove your goods. You cannot attempt to remove a Bailiff after they have gained peaceful entry as this will be deemed as assault and you could be taken to court over any such action.
A Bailiff cannot seize the following goods
New legislation from 1st April 1998 states that the local authorities must notify you by way of a letter giving you 14 days notice of a proposed Bailiff visit to collect council tax. County court Bailiffs must issue a warning notice, allowing you 7 days to pay.
If a Bailiff is about to make their first visit, remember firstly that you DO NOT HAVE to let them in. Ensure that all entry points to the house, such as doors, open windows etc are all closed and locked. They may try and call several times to try and gain entry to your home. If, after a certain length of time, they are unable to gain entry to your home, they will return the warrant to the court or local authority.
If you have any complaints about a Bailiff, you can complain to whoever sent the Bailiff, be it the local authorities, the county court or somewhere else. Most private Bailiffs belong to an association that will have set complaints and grievance procedures.