New call for evidence provides ‘welcome opportunity’ for much-needed bailiff reform

The Ministry of Justice published its call for evidence following concerns raised by the advice sector over continued problems with bailiffs and bailiff firms, despite reforms introduced in 2014. The call for evidence follows the sector’s joint Taking Control report published last year.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “We continue to see significant problems with the behaviour of some bailiffs and bailiff firms. The sector’s Taking Control report, published jointly by organisations from across the debt advice and charitable sector, highlighted the limited impact that the 2014 reforms have had and made a strong case for fundamental change.

“This new call for evidence, with its broad scope, is a welcome opportunity to secure the fundamental reform that is needed to deal with the systemic issues that many of the people we help are experiencing with bailiff action.

“We look forward to working with government and advice sector partners as we press for key changes including independent regulation, a single complaints mechanism and a revised fee structure that incentivises good practice.”

A survey of advisers conducted for the Taking Control report highlighted continuing concerns about bailiffs, including: not accepting offers of payment, using threatening behaviour, not applying fees appropriately or proportionately, seizing goods inappropriately and failure to treat vulnerable clients appropriately.