UK Bailiffs: Scum of the Earth

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
UK Bailiffs: Scum of the Earth

UK bailiffs can already legally enter your home unbidden through an unlocked door or window (!), or by climbing a gate or fence. Once they gain 'peaceful entry', they can break open any locked doors inside to seize your property. In practice, bailiffs intimidate, deceive and even resort to violence to gain entry into your flat. See this guide on bailiffs to get an idea as to what an insolvent or debt-ridden person can expect.

Now, it turns out, Bailiffs can legally use force to gain entry and restrain your person. See this article by Jennifer Swift:

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Picture the scene - a bailiff comes to your home because you haven't paid a debt you owe, perhaps your council tax, and the court has given him the power to enforce it. You refuse to let him in, but he breaks in and enters anyway. When you get in his way as he appraises your property, he has his beefy companion pin you down to the floor.

No protest on your part can sway them because their actions are perfectly legal.

This is not a nightmare scenario from a dystopian future, but could in fact be reality very soon in the UK. A little-noticed provision of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 overturned the centuries-old principle that "an English's home is his castle" and permitted bailiffs to use force to enter homes in order to collect criminal fines, which include minor offences such as failing to pay for a TV licence (see paragraph 28, 125CA (2) and paragraph 3 (1)).

Next, provisions in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 made it possible for bailiffs to break in to collect civil fines and to use physical force to restrain debtors (see paragraphs 20 to 23; paragraph 24(2) and 31 (5)). So far these powers are not in force because the government has not created the necessary regulations to implement them.

But they are dangerous and unnecessary measures, putting vulnerable debtors, such as single parents, the disabled and the mentally ill, under even greater stress than they are at present and increasing the already considerable opportunities for bailiffs to intimidate them.

Bailiffs can be called for anything from missed rent, unpaid council tax (a regressive and draconian public services tax) or not buying a television license (a yearly fee for free television like the BBC and ITV). It doesn't take much insight to realize that Bailiffs represent an attack on the poor, disabled and disempowered. Of course, government reductions to legal aid exacerbate the problem. Not to mention the massive hypocrisy of Britain's current crop of MPs, embroiled in an expense scandal, and unlikely to have to hide behind a chain lock, afraid to open their door to callers.

 

Noise

I see an opportunity here...now introducing the Bailiff Basher!  It's basically a cinder block tied to a stainless steal chain.  Order now and you'll recieve a diagram outlining the best locations to nail your bailiff.

Stargazer

Diagrams to nail your bailiff? Hmmmm......... Tongue out

Noise

I haven't drawn them yet either...can I take your post as you volunteering to show me how to nail a Bailiff?   :D

Heh, as silly as my post was...if someone forcibly enters your home, isn't it within your rights for you to take measures to kick them out? 

Stargazer

I would think so but then again, I was naive enough to think that what Dog the Bounty Hunter does is illegal.

Michelle

I think that here, it's illegal to booby-trap your house for intruders, and that you're liable if someone gets injured or killed due to it.  But I'm not positive about that.

Noise

If this was put into effect in America, I'd imagine we'd be seeing Bailiffs getting shot on a daily basis.  What (besides physical force) is going to prevent someone from attacking a bailiff that forcibly enters ones home?

 

I guess this is the relevant sections in the article posted:

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If a bailiff does gain peaceful entry to my house what will they do?
Once gaining entry to your home, a bailiff will usually try to find and seize any goods of value belonging to the person who owes the debt or who is named on the warrant.

Once in the house the bailiff has the right to go into all rooms and can break open any locked door or cupboard inside your house. If the bailiff gains peaceful entry s/he has the right to call again and enter even without your permission, i.e. s/he can break in and remove your goods.

Any attempt to remove a bailiff from your property once they have gained peaceful entry is assault and you could be taken to court for it.

Once in the house, a bailiff will attempt to seize your goods in order to sell them off at public auction to raise money to pay the debt that you owe. The bailiff will make clear an intention to seize various items, either verbally, or by attaching a mark to them, or by touching them. This is sometimes called levying distress or distraining upon goods.

Once the bailiff has seized goods, they have a number of options. They can either remove items they have seized immediately from the property to be stored and eventually sold at public auction. Alternatively, they can leave someone on the premises to guard the items that have been seized or, in the case of bailiffs collecting rent, secure items that have been seized in your home. These last two options are very rarely used.

You will be charged with assault if you try to stop a bailiff who's broken into your house and started seizing your valuables. Brutal.

To the part bolded..."I broke into your house back in Febuary '07...by law you have to let me in again".   seriously?

and this is how they can get in:

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Can a bailiff force his/her way into my house?
Most bailiffs do not have the right to force their way into your home to seize your goods. The only exception is that bailiffs from the Collector of Taxes (Inland Revenue) can get a warrant to force entry, but this is very rare.

All other bailiffs have a right of peaceful entry only. This means that they cannot use force to enter your home, for example, by breaking a window or a door. However, they can enter your property through an open door or window (front and back) and can climb over fences and gates, but cannot break them down. See also ''If a bailiff does gain peaceful entry to my house, what will they do?''

You do not have to let a bailiff into your house. A bailiff cannot force their way past you if you answer the door. If all your doors and windows are securely closed they will not be able to gain peaceful entry to your house unless you let them in.

Bailiffs are well aware of their limited powers and may use a variety of different means to gain entry peaceably. They may attempt to walk in as soon as a door is opened. They may ask if they can use your telephone to check if an arrangement is satisfactory with their office. They may simply ask you if you would prefer to discuss matters inside. You do not have to go along with any of these methods