A bailiff, also known as an 'enforcement agent', is a legally authorised person who works on behalf of the courts to recover an outstanding debt, repossess goods or even carry out the eviction of a tenant. There are four types of bailiffs:
These types of bailiffs can be self-employed, employed by a private firm or employed by another organisation. They usually collect Council Tax arrears and unpaid parking fines from local authorities. They also collect money owed to HMRC.
County Court bailiff
These bailiffs are directly employed by the County Court to collect unpaid County Court Judgments (CCJs) and they must follow strict guidelines to collect a debt.
High Court Enforcement Officers
A High Court Enforcement Officer is an individual person, who has been authorised by the Ministry of Justice to enforce High Court judgments. If a creditor has more than £600 owed to them through a CCJ (including court costs) they can transfer the judgment to a High Court Enforcement Officer to enforce the judgment. However they won't be able to enforce a debt if it's regulated by the Consumer Credit Act (for example, unpaid credit cards or things bought on credit), as these can only be enforced through the County Court. This restriction, however, does not apply if the debt is to the value of £25,000 or more.
For further information, read The Consumer Credit Act.
Magistrates Court bailiff
These bailiffs work for the Magistrates Court. They mainly deal with money owed in criminal offences, such as fines.
All listed bailiffs are certified by the courts. This means that they have been granted a certificate by the court which allows them to carry out their duties, such as enforcing a debt or evicting a tenant.
It is important to note that a debt collector is not a bailiff. Some private debt collection agencies may threaten to send someone to your home if you refuse to pay them the amounts they request. Representatives of private Debt Collection Agencies do not have the same powers as bailiffs and in fact have very little powers to enforce a debt or collect money owed.