Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2014 – New Bailiff Regulations Come Into Force

The ‘Taking Control of Goods Regulations’ came in to force on 6 April 2014 and these will have a significant impact on how High Court Enforcement Officers, more commonly known as Bailiffs, can operate.

The reforms were introduced to ensure that one standard procedure is adopted for the controversial and often emotive process of seizing goods and money.  In addition, the reforms attempt to offer more protection for vulnerable people who find themselves in debt.  Essentially, the new regulations make the High Court Enforcement Officers more accountable for their actions, but at the same time, allow them to carry out their role in a legal and effective manner.

One of the new rules within the regulations is that a debtor must now be given seven days notice before a High Court Enforcement Officer can attend the property for the recovery of goods.  This is to allow the debtor time to make arrangements with the creditor to satisfy the debt, or agree a suitable payment plan, before the High Court Enforcement Officers turns up at the property.  This reduces the stress and anxiety for debtors, but also reduces enforcement costs, which will also avoid the debt increasing unnecessarily.

However, the concern to creditors is that debtors could now dispose or hide their assets during the seven day period, thus preventing the creditor successfully recovering the debt.  High Court Enforcement Officers are often the last resort in the recovery of a debt, and if the debtor has been unable to satisfy the debt by this stage, it is perhaps unlikely that they will be able to now.  Therefore, this is a real concern for creditors.

Other changes brought in by the regulations include defined rules on when premises can be entered, what goods can be taken, how goods are to be sold and how a repayment scheme can be arranged.  There has now also been clarification of the fee structure for the new enforcement process, which provides more certainty for all parties concerned.

The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2014 reforms have received a mixed welcome by creditors because whilst the process has been formalised, there is now a real risk of creditors disposing of goods and money before the High Court Enforcement Officer can attend.   It remains to be seen how these regulations will affect the rates of recovery of debts for creditors.

If you have an unpaid debt that you would like assistance with please contact the Forbes’ Debt Collect Team on  0800 037 4628 or make an enquiry here.

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