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Looking Deeper into Bailiff Reform

Published on February 1, 2013    |     No Comments   by in Enforcement

As we mentioned in the recent Shergroup Bulletin (email me if you didn’t get a copy) bailiffs will be banned from entering homes at night or when there are only children present under new laws proposed announced by the Government last week.

Breaking news in the Law Society’s Gazette confirm that the new laws, which will be added to the Crime and Courts Bill, are currently at the committee stage in Parliament.

Bailiffs will have to undergo mandatory training and a certification scheme, and could be barred if they do not follow the rules.

From our point of view we support the Government on all the proposals including times of visits which we see work with what we already do and how we already handle the most intransigent of judgment debtors who will only co-operate with us in the enforcement of the court’s order if we seize their car very early in the morning.

What is also in the small print is the appearance of proposals to move forward with the CRAR scheme (Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery) which was introduced in the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

As a result landlords will be banned from using bailiffs to seize property for commercial arrears without going to court and the ancient rules on distraining for rent will disappear.

According to one commentator in the Gazette report ‘Commercial landlords and tenants should take note that hidden within the government’s pledge today to shake up bailiff regulation is confirmation that the long-anticipated new procedure for commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR) will definitely be coming into force …. This is likely to be welcomed by tenants, who will benefit from a 14 day warning before the bailiff turns up at the door, but will be met with less enthusiasm by landlords who face a longer, more costly process.

CRAR has been a backwater issue for many of us looking at bailiff reform but clearly it will come to the fore as commercial landlords realize that sending in bailiffs without a court order is no longer going to be possible. We have to also think about the additional burden this will put on an already strained court system which will have to cope with a new strand of business.

We will be monitoring closely the impact of the bailiff reforms in this blog and commenting on what we think works and what doesn’t. For us here at Shergroup the idea of finally having a settled business model to work with is very welcome as we have been on the reform treadmill since Lord Irvine, the then Lord Chancellor, kicked off the reforms in 1998.

At last we can see an end to the ups and downs of running an enforcement business with clear rules and certainty for creditors and debtors alike. We certainly welcome that.

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