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Now as having a nose on Baliff laws and came across this site now as i cannot add links yet,will paste it in ,what came across as strange ,was this bit now it may only apply to fines: so any input from the good guys here lol will be interesting

"Astonishingly, the majority of people who have contacted us over the years have never been shown a Certificate; instead they are shown a simple Identity Card. This does not give him authority to levy on goods. "

heres the rest :

ALL ABOUT BAILIFFS. Bailiffs have been around for over a thousand years and "distress" (the procedure for bailiffs to seize goods) was so commonplace in the 13th Century ,that the Magna Carta of 1215 gave the English Barons the right to distress even against the King !!

Bailiffs are often described as debt collectors but this is not quite accurate. The crucial difference is that debt collectors cannot take people's goods and sell them to pay what's owed. With rare exceptions, bailiffs enforce court orders and warrants issued by Government departments. These are mostly to do with the recovery of debt but bailiffs also can evict and arrest people.


Lord Denning in 1982 described distress as an “archaic remedy which has largely fallen into disuse”. In 1986 the Law Commission examined distress describing it as “difficult and distasteful” and further “riddled with intricacy and inadequacy” If these comments were not serious enough, he concluded by saying that “with its many uncertainties, anomalies and archaisms, its useful life is now spent and simply cannot be resuscitated”.

Sir Jack Jacob remarked also that “it’s very existence as legal remedy besmirches the very fabric of English Civil Justice”. They recommended that it be abolished, this of course did not happen, but in 1988 certain changes were made with the Distress for Rent Act (1988) being introduced. This had the effect of bringing desperately needed improvements to the system of Certification of Bailiffs and at the same time introducing standard legal forms. Although this new act was welcomed, it nonetheless, was seen as simply inadequate in comparison to the severe criticisms by the Law Commission some 2 years earlier.

By February 1991, the Law Commission published a further report to Parliament with the recommendation that abolition was still the desired solution…they even included a draft bill for this very purpose. Nothing further was done on this until July 1995 when the Lord Chancellor announced his intention to make changes.

By 1998 bailiffs law had become hopelessly complex, archaic and confusing, not at all surprising being that it was a mixture of common law, statute and case law, much of it dating back to the medieval times. This had the effect of creating a great deal of confusion not just to the debtor and legal profession, but to bailiffs themselves!!

For this reason, the industry itself welcomed the Lord Chancellors Department announcement in 1998 that there was to be an independent review of bailiff law. This resulted in a Green Paper being published in July 2001 which contained most of the recommendations contained in Professor Jack Beatson’s paper an “Independent Review of Bailiff Law”. Although this paper was generally well received by most, including the enforcement profession, its intention was to produce a “Single Piece of Legislation” that would provide fairness to all concerned.

In 2002, the “ National Standards for Enforcement Agents” was introduced which set a minimum standard which all bailiffs are expected to comply, but there was a disappointing elements to this in that it did not include a complaints or appeals procedure and was merely a voluntary code.

After much consultation, a White Paper was published in March 2003: this proposed to radically reform bailiff’s law, with its intention being to consolidate legislation into just one single code together with having one licensing body.


Finally, on 25th July 2006, the government published The Draft Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill, which includes a single procedure for taking control of goods and this bill was put into the Queen’s Speech in November 2006, and is currently being debated in the House of Lords.

Our company have heard reports that some bailiffs have stated that this Bill is now legal…..that is not the case. As soon as we receive any further news on this Bill, we will feature it on our News section on the front page of this site.

Facts about a Certificated Bailiff.

To collect the following debts, by law the bailiff has to be what is called a Certificated Bailiff :

• Council Tax,

• Business Rates (NNDR)

• Parking Charge Notices (PCN’s)

• Congestion Charging,

• Child Support Agency

• Inland Revenue

• Customs & Excise (VAT)

• Magistrate Court Fines ( See note)

Note: Please read our section on Magistrates Court for further information.

There is a process that must be undertaken for a bailiff to gain a Certificate. At the end of this page there is a link to the Courts ruling on the process of Certification, but put simply this would involve the following:

The bailiff, will need to apply to an issuing court for an Application Form to be completed. The form requires that he disclose his personal details, provides a recent county court judgment search, a criminal records search and he must provide 2 references…one of which should be from the company where he will be working.

He will need to provide proof that he has advertised his intention to apply to the relevant court for a Bailiff’s Certificate in the Public Notices section of a local newspaper. This is so that any member of the public may object to the application if they consider that he is not suitable to be a bailiff.

He must lodge in court a “Bailiff Bond”, with a value of £10,000. In nearly all cases, this is an insurance scheme offered by 2 insurance companies, mainly Zurich Insurance etc.

At the hearing, the bailiff will need to demonstrate to the Judge that he has sufficient knowledge of bailiff’s law to enable him to act. Once he is satisfied, the Judge will issue a Certificate.

It is important to note that the Judge will personally sign the certificate. It will also be stamped with the court’s official seal. The certificate will resemble an ID card, with the obvious exception that it is personally signed by the Judge and has the court seal.

The Bailiff’s Certificate last for just 2 years. If the bailiff changes employers or his personal details change during the 2 year period, he must surrender his certificate and a new one will be provided to him with the necessary changes made. There is no fee for this.

Astonishingly, the majority of people who have contacted us over the years have never been shown a Certificate; instead they are shown a simple Identity Card. This does not give him authority to levy on goods.


By clicking below you will see the relevant Statutory Instrument relating to an application to become a Certificated Bailiff:



There are three main types of bailiff and an officer of the Supreme Court called the Tipstaff. As the Tipstaff does very specialist High Court enforcement, we do not need to consider him further.

Private Bailiffs (Certificated Bailiffs


Certificated bailiffs are granted a certificate by a County Court Judge which allows them to Levy Distress. The certificate lasts for just two years and authorises the bailiff to levy distress anywhere in England and Wales. To obtain a certificate, the applicant must satisfy the Judge that he is a “fit and proper person” to hold a certificate, and that he has a sufficient knowledge of the law of distress, and also that he is not in the business of buying debts. They must also provide two references, undergo a criminal records check, a County Court Judgment check and finally, provide a security bond of £10,000. This final requirement normally being an insurance bond.


They are not officers of the court and are not employed by the court. However, they are seen as representatives of the court because they act under the authority of a Certificate issued by the court. The court therefore exercises, under the certification process, a certain amount of control over the standards of competence and conduct of these bailiffs. Other than that, there is no formal regulatory structure of Certificated Bailiffs, although those that are members of the Certificated Bailiffs Association are subject to the complaints procedure of that body.

Only Certificated Bailiffs can carry out distress for rent, council tax, non-domestic rates and parking fines, child support agency arrears etc.

County Court Bailiffs

County Court Bailiffs are civil servants employed by the County Courts where they are based and they enforce county court orders and the orders made at tribunals that have been transferred to the county court for enforcement. County Court Bailiffs are managed by senior staff at the County Court but also responsible to the District Judge for their actions. (see section 123 of the Courts Act 1984)

High Court Enforcement Officer( formerly sheriff's officers)

There are approx: 70 high court enforcement officers. They are private sector bailiffs appointed to enforce High Court orders and any county court order that the creditor transfers to the High Court for enforcement.


The rules governing their appointment are set out in the County Courts Act 2003 and the rules made under it. High Court Enforcement Officers can ask anyone to act as their bailiff.


Fines Offficers and Civilian Enforcement Officers (CEO's)

These are employed by the Magistrates Court under the provision of Section 92 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 and the Magistrates Courts (Civilian Enforcement Officers) Rules 1990 and the Courts Act 2003. These "bailiffs" are able to execute a range of warrants including distress warrants and warrants of arrest, and commitment for non-payment of fines and other sums a court had ordered to be paid. In addition, they can also enforce warrants of arrest for breaches of community sentences.

For further details on the powers that are available to them, you will need to refer to our section entitled: Magistrate Court on the front page where we have provided further information.

Note: There a few other people who have the same sort of powers as bailiffs and can seize a person's goods. For example, a Collector of Taxes has a right under Section 61 of the Taxes Management Act 1970 to levy distress for both unpaid Income Tax and National Insurance. These are civil servants and are subject to the same recruitment and monitoring standards as all civil servants including county court bailiffs.

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We already have this information.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.

Advice offered by Martin3030 is not supported by any legal training or qualification.Members are advised to use the services of fully insured legal professionals when needed.



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Does no harm to revisit it though imho, as newbies are along all the time.

We could do with some help from you.



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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Im sure we had a sticky on the types of bailiffs etc, maybe I should up date it and simplify it a little. no offence, but when some people see a lot to read they tend to miss out a lot as to skim over it or find it a bit over whelming.


Andy, you could of approached a member of site team to add the link for you. :)


need to just state though that some links do need to be passed with site team first, just to be on the safe side :)

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The article needs updating, Lord Chancellors Department now MoJ, Certificated Bailiffs Association now CIVEA and Tribunals and Courts and Enforcement Bill which is now a 2007 act.


Some of the legislation quotations are not right, County Courts Act 2003 and I think the author may have meant The Courts Act 2003 and section 123 of the Courts Act 1984 could mean 123 of the County Courts Act 1984. Also the the tipstaff positions are no longer in practical use for arresting debtors, it is a remnant from the days of debtors prisons.

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The article is shortly to be updated and in fact, the entire website updated and lots more info which I will be posting on here as "Sticky's".

Thanks TT we always need up to date information

We could do with some help from you.



Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group


If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread


The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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