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Bailiffs (Licensing) Bill 2006 - As Introduced


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NEW BILL TO REGULATE BAILIFFS A Bill to regulate bailiffs was introduced by Lord Lucas at the House of Lords today. It requires all bailiffs to hold a licence, and all companies that employ them to be approved by a new regulator.

 

Lord Lucas, an elected hereditary Conservative backbencher and chairman of the London Motorists Action Group, said ‘Every year hundreds of thousands of people (many of them the most vulnerable in our society) have money forcibly extracted from them by bailiffs. We know from our own experience, research and from tv programmes such as the Whistleblower exposé, that abuse is rife and that many people are being grossly overcharged.

 

This bill will give us an opportunity of setting the affairs of this necessary if unpleasant business in order.’ The Bill introduces a single licence for all bailiffs, which will be renewed annually if the bailiff completes the refresher training prescribed by the regulator. Apart from initial set-up costs, the licence fees paid by bailiffs and their employers will fund the system.

 

Philip Evans, Chair of the Enforcement Law Reform Group, said, ‘The Government’s own proposals for bailiffs in the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Bill would leave many private bailiffs unregulated, including most of those featured on the BBC Whistleblower programme broadcast on 26 September. The blanket civil service exemptions for Government would make it very easy for rogue bailiffs to impersonate them and go undetected.’

 

The Bill will strengthen the civil and criminal justice systems by regulating the people who enforce court orders, both for civil debt and criminal fines. It will empower the regulator to impose clear forms and a simple fee scales so that people facing bailiff action will be better able to understand their rights and obligations.

 

‘There’s a crisis of confidence’, explains Simon Aldridge, a founder member of LMAG who earlier this year won an important case against Equita, one of Britain’s largest bailiff companies. ‘People just don’t trust bailiffs. Fourteen years of Government review hasn’t produced any change and so now we’ve produced our own proposals, which I urge people to support.’

 

Advice UK’s National Money Advice Coordinator, Nick Pearson, said, ‘This Bill provides the legislation required to protect poor and vulnerable people from unscrupulous bailiffs.’

 

Barrie Minney, chair of the Local Authority Civil Enforcement Forum, the group that represents bailiffs directly employed by local councils, said,’ We support the Bill and its proposals to regulate all bailiffs.’

 

The Bailiffs (Licensing) Bill was drafted by Lord Lucas and Franklin Price, a solicitor and partner at Jeffrey Green Russell (solicitors) who advises LMAG. Notes

 

 

The London Motorists Action Group was set up in 2005 to help motorists fight the abuse of parking tickets and other road traffic penalties which are issued primarily to generate revenue and the fraudulent activities of bailiffs sent to enforce them. The Directors and legal adviser have extensive personal experience of bailiffs who are, as portrayed on the BBC Whistleblower programme broadcast on 26 September 2006, not subject to regulation and ‘out of control’.

 

 

Bailiffs (Licensing) Bill 2006

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PRESS NOTICE 13

 

MINISTER WELCOMES LMAG’s BAILIFFS BILL

 

The Minister responsible for regulating bailiffs has welcomed the Bill introduced to the House of Lords yesterday by Lord Lucas and is looking for ways to incorporate it into the Government’s own Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Bill.

 

Speaking at the end of the second reading debate in the House of Lords on the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Bill, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, said that she would listen to the issues raised both in the debate and by organisations outside Parliament. ‘I will be looking at whether there are further steps we might consider’ she said.

 

Lord Lucas, an elected hereditary Conservative backbencher and chairman of the London Motorists Action Group, said, ‘I’m looking forward to working with other organisations who have supported the this quality of regulation, to bring this initiative to a successful outcome.’ Addressing the House of Lords earlier, he said that groups as diverse as Citizens Advice and the Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies had contacted him seeking his help persuading the Government of the need for proper regulation.

 

Alex Henney, General Secretary of LMAG said, ‘Were looking forward to working with the Government on proper regulation for bailiffs. The Government’s own proposals in the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Bill are wholly inadequate.’

Philip Evans, Chair of the Enforcement Law Reform Group which bring together representatives of bailiffs, creditors and debt advisers, said, ‘It’s not just a matter of rooting out rogue bailiffs but of supporting ethical bailiffs who do a good job but who nevertheless struggle to demonstrate their accountability in the current climate of mistrust.’

The Bailiffs (Licensing) Bill requires all bailiffs to hold a licence, and all companies that employ them to be approved by a new regulator. Licence fees paid by bailiffs and their employers will fund the regulator.

 

Nick Pearson of Advice UK said, ‘I am delighted to hear about the Government’s openness to LMAG’s initiative. Debt advisers realise that bailiffs have a difficult job to do and a clear regulatory structure will benefit everyone.’

 

The Bailiffs (Licensing) Bill was drafted by Lord Lucas and Franklin Price, a solicitor and partner at Jeffrey Green Russell (solicitors) who advises LMAG.

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