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Regulator should oversee the bailiff industry

The government should introduce new regulation for the bailiff industry to ensure that people in debt are treated fairly, says the Justice Committee in its report “Bailiffs: Enforcement of debt”.

Following an inquiry into concerns about complaints about bailiffs, also known as enforcement agents, the report expresses surprise at their under-regulation compared to other sectors.

It describes the existing system of individual certification of enforcement agents by the courts as a rubber-stamping exercise. A new regulator should be able to stop unfit enforcement agents or companies from practising, and should also work to change culture and raise standards. The new regulator, the report says, should regularly review enforcement fees which debtors pay to make sure they are proportionate.

The Committee concludes that the current complaints system is fragmented and hard to navigate, especially for vulnerable people. It recommends an independent complaints body, separate to the regulator, to which all complaints about enforcement agents can be escalated. The Ministry of Justice should take account of the important role of the existing Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and the much-delayed introduction of the proposed Public Service Ombudsman.

Read House of Commons Justice Committee - Bailiffs: Enforcement of debt