Provision of Bailiff Services
Code of Practice
1.Introduction...... Page 2
2.Glossary of Terms...... Page2
3.Professionalism and Conduct...... Page2
4.Statutory or Financial Requirements...... Page4
5.Training and Certification...... Page 4
6.Complaints and Discipline...... Page5
7.Information and Confidentiality...... Page5
8.Seizure of Goods...... Page6
9.Vulnerable Persons and Situations...... Page 7
1.1This Code of Practice has been produced to standardise the operation of bailiffs working for Kettering Borough Council, not only within the Borough of Kettering, but also anywhere within England and Wales. The aim is to ensure a consistent approach to the debt recovery primarily of Council Tax and National Non-Domestic Rates.
1.2This Code of Practice shall form part of the agreement between the Company and Kettering Borough Council.
1.3Much of this document is based on accepted best practice and provides guidance to bailiffs on some issues that may notbe specifically covered in legislation, but that are relevant in a modern society.
Within this document the following terms shall apply:KBC / The billing authority, namely Kettering Borough Council
Debtor / Is a person or body that owes a sum of money, and for which a Liability Order has been obtained in the Magistrates’ Court. The Debtor should behave lawfully and be encouraged to co-operate with the Enforcement Agent
Enforcement / Shall mean the lawful process of a Liability Order, to include attachment of earnings, distraint and levying on goods
Enforcement Agency / Is the Company appointed by KBC, namely Bristow and Sutor
Enforcement Agent (s) / Someone who is responsible for the Enforcement of Court Orders against goods (warrant of distress and execution) or the person (arrest warrants), this includes those employed in the public and private sectors, bailiffs, sheriffs and distrainors
3.1The Enforcement Agent must always carry full identification, such as badge or ID card, and when attending a Debtor’s property will produce such at the outset without being asked.
3.2The Enforcement Agent will also carry written authorisation from KBC to act on behalf of KBC and if requested to do so, will show that to the Debtor and to any other person who has reason to make that request.
3.3The Enforcement Agent, when meeting any person at a property, should introduce themselves and any other colleague. They should seek to establish the identity of all persons present and inform the Debtor, or any other responsible person, of the purpose of their visit, and where appropriate, their powers.
3.4The Enforcement Agents must not misrepresent their powers, qualifications, capacities, experience or abilities.
3.5The Enforcement Agents must carry out the duties in a professional, calm, dignified and polite manner.
3.6The Enforcement Agents must carry out the duties with discretion and fairness.
3.7The Enforcement Agents must act within the law at all times, both current legislation and the law as interpreted by the courts.
3.8The Enforcement Agents shall observe all health and safety requirements in carrying out Enforcement.
3.9The Enforcement Agents must maintain strict client confidentiality.
3.10The Enforcement Agents must comply with the Data Protection legislation and where appropriate the Freedom of Information Act.
3.11The Enforcement Agents, for the purpose of distress or execution, shall, without the use of unlawful force, gain access to the goods of the Debtor. The Enforcement Agent shall produce an inventory of the goods seized and leave it with the Debtor, or at the premises, along with any other documents that are required by regulations or statute.
3.12The Enforcement Agents must dress appropriately.
3.13The Enforcement Agents must not discriminate unfairly on any grounds including those of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation
3.14In circumstances where the Enforcement Agency requires, and always where there has been previous acts of, or threats of violence by a Debtor, a risk assessment should be undertaken prior to an Enforcement Agent attending the Debtor’s property.
4.1The Enforcement Agency should ensure that fully audited accounts are available on request.
4.2The Enforcement Agency must comply with statutory obligations, for example, the Companies Act, Value Added Tax, Custom and Revenues provisions, Data Protection, Health and Safety etc.
4.3The Enforcement Agency must open and maintain a separate account for monies due to KBC.
4.4The Enforcement Agency should keep and make available on request, accurate accounts to establish the monies owed to KBC.
4.5The Enforcement Agency must keep a complete record of all financial transactions in whatever capacity undertaken.
4.6The Enforcement Agency must maintain suitable and comprehensive insurance cover for both professional indemnity and other risks including employer’s liability. Insurance requirements must actively be re-visited each year to the satisfaction of KBC and to ensure adequate and appropriate arrangements are in place.
5.1The Enforcement Agency must provide all Enforcement Agents, employees and contractors with appropriate training to ensure that they understand and are able to act at all times within the boundaries of the relevant legislation. The training should be provided at the commencement of employment and thereafter at appropriate intervals to ensure that the knowledge is kept up to date.
5.2The Enforcement Agency must ensure that all Enforcement Agents, employees and contractors will at all times act within the scope of the current legislation, for example, The Companies Act, VAT regulations, Revenues and Customs provisions, Data Protection, Health and Safety etc, and have an appropriate knowledge and understanding of the legislation and be aware of any statutory obligations.
5.3The Enforcement Agent should be trained to recognise and avoid potentially hazardous and aggressive situations and to withdraw when in doubt about their own or others’ safety.
5.4Professional training and assessment should be at the appropriate standard, for example, to that of the NVQ for Civil Enforcement Agents or equivalent.
6.1The Enforcement Agency must operate both a complaints and a disciplinary procedure.
6.2The Enforcement Agents must be fully conversant with the complaints and disciplinary procedures.
6.3Complaints from debtors, or their representatives, must be dealt with efficiently, promptly and in accordance with the procedure.
6.4The procedure should be set out in plain English, have a main point of contact, set time limits for dealing with a complaint and where appropriate have an independent appeal process.
6.4The Enforcement Agency should maintain and make available on request a register of complaints.
6.5The Enforcement Agency is encouraged to make use of the complaints and disciplinary procedures of the professional associations such as the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA).
6.6The Enforcement Agency must make available details of the complaints procedure on request or when circumstances indicate it would be appropriate to do so.
7.1All notices, correspondence and documentation issued by the Enforcement Agency, or the Enforcement Agent must be clear, unambiguous and to the satisfaction of KBC.
7.2All information obtained during the collection process, or during the administration and Enforcement of warrants must be treated as confidential.
7.3Enforcement Agents and the Enforcement Agency should provide clear and prompt information to the Debtors.
7.4Enforcement Agents should so far as it is practical avoid disclosing the purpose of their visit to anyone other than the Debtor. Where the Debtor is not seen, relevant documents must be left at the address in a sealed envelope addressed to the Debtor.
7.5Enforcement Agents will on each occasion when a visit is made to the property of the Debtor, that incurs a fee for the Debtor, provide or leave a notice detailing the fees charged to that date including the one for that visit, and the fees that will be incurred if further recovery action becomes necessary.
7.6If the Debtor makes a written request the Enforcement Agency will provide an itemised account of the fees charged.
7.7Enforcement Agents will clearly explain and provide in writing the consequences of the seizure of goods belonging to the Debtor and ensure that the Debtor is aware of any additional fees or charges that will be incurred.
8.1The Enforcement Agent must only take goods in accordance with the appropriate regulations or statute.
8.2The Enforcement Agent must ensure that goods are handled with reasonable care so that they do not suffer any damage whilst in their possession.
8.3The Enforcement Agency should have insurance in place for goods in transit so that if damage occurs the extent of the damage is covered under the insurance policy.
8.4The Enforcement Agent should not remove any goods that are clearly identifiable as an item belonging to, or for the exclusive use of, a child.
8.5The Enforcement Agent should give to the Debtor or leave at the property a receipt for the goods removed.
8.6The Enforcement Agent should take all reasonable steps to ensure that the value of goods removed is proportional to the value of the debt and charges owed
9.1The Enforcement Agent must recognise that they have a role in ensuring that the vulnerable and socially excluded are protected and that the recovery process includes procedures about how such situations should be dealt with. The appropriate use of discretion is essential in every case and no amount of guidance could cover every situation.
9.2The Enforcement Agent has a duty to contact KBC and report the circumstances in situations where there is potential cause for concern. If necessary the Enforcement Agent will advise KBC if further action is appropriate.
9.3The exercise of appropriate discretion is needed, not only to protect the Debtor, but also to protect the Enforcement Agent who should avoid taking action that could lead to accusations of inappropriate behaviour.
9.4The Enforcement Agent must withdraw from domestic premises if the only person present is, or appears to be, under the age of 18. The Enforcement Agent can ask when the Debtor will be home or for other methods of contact, for example, work or mobile telephone number.
9.5The Enforcement Agent must withdraw without making enquiries if the only persons present are children who appear to be under the age of 12.
9.6The Enforcement Agent should, wherever possible, have in place arrangements for rapid access to translation services when these are needed.
9.7The Enforcement Agent should provide, on request, information in large print or in Braille for Debtors with impaired sight.
9.8Those who might be potentially vulnerable include:
♦Severely physically or mentally disabled
♦Those aged over 70 years
♦People with a disability
♦The seriously ill
♦The recently bereaved
♦Single parent families
♦Pregnant women 35 weeks or more
♦Those who have obvious difficulty in understanding, speaking or reading English
♦Young children where their welfare could be put at risk
9.9In all of the circumstances listed in 9.8 the Enforcement Agent will take no further action without obtaining confirmation from KBC.
1st April 2011 Page 1