Bailiffs Routinely Get Away with Breaking the Rules, Says Citizens Advice

January 10, 2019

Bailiffs operating in England and Wales are routinely getting away with breaking rules as they pursue debtors because so many people feel that the relevant complaints systems are “complicated and intimidating”.

That’s according to the charity organisation Citizens Advice, which says that 72 per cent of people who find themselves on the wrong end of rule breaking by bailiffs decide not to complain about the issue.

In fact, figures obtained by the charity show that as few as 56 complaints have been made through the courts about rule breaking by bailiffs since 2014.

That’s despite Citizens Advice’s best estimates being that there have been close to 850,000 instances of bailiffs breaking rules in pursuit of debts over the course of the past two years.

The charity’s view is that a vast majority of people affected by bad behaviour or rule breaking among debt collectors do not have faith in the complaints process and succumb to the pressure being put on them by bailiffs.

In many cases, people feel pressured to make payments to bailiffs even when they should not really be liable for the debts in question.

In these situations it can take many months for complainants to be refunded money they shouldn’t ever have been asked to pay.

Members of parliament in Westminster are due to discuss the issue of bailiff regulations and Citizens Advice wants to see the government do much more to clamp down on bad behaviour among bailiffs.

Specifically, the charity wants to see the establishment of an independent complaints process and a designated bailiff regulator.

According to Citizens Advice’s own figures, there has been a 24 per cent rise in the number of people in England and Wales experiencing problems with bailiffs since 2014.

“Bailiffs are getting away with breaking rules designed to protect those who’re struggling,” said Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive.

“The complaints process is complicated and frustrating. People lack faith in a system where you’re required to complain to the bailiff’s firm in the first instance.

“Bad practice by bailiffs is widespread and causes stress, anxiety and further financial harm. The government has said it wants to end this for good and to do so, it must bring rule-breaking bailiffs into line by establishing an independent regulator.”

Joanne Wright

Head Adviser at our Manchester Office

Tel: 0800 001 4247

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