HMCS Consults on Regulations -

Her Majesty's Court Service (HMCS) has begun the consultation exercise which should eventually lead to the regulation of enforcement agents. Following the passing of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 HMCS is now consulting with stakeholders, including the ESA, in order to take forward the process of creating regulations. The Association, in speaking to officials, has voiced concern over a number of issues including the up-front fee, the proposed three month time limit for taking control of goods, forced entry, the sale of goods following seizure and the use of the Security Industry Authority as a regulatory body. HMCS has indicated its willingness to listen to stakeholders' concerns and the Association is hopeful that, whatever the final outcome may be, it provides a system which is beneficial to creditors and debtors as well as enforcement agents.

HMCS - New Fee Structure

After what seems an age HMCS and the Ministry of Justice have begun work on introducing new regulations for enforcement agents following the passing of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. HMCS has sent out forms (known as Requests for Information (RFIs)) to bailiff firms requesting information on the work they do, how much it costs them and the charges made for carrying out such work. The purpose of the information gathered from the forms is to provide material to enable HMCS to formulate a fee structure for enforcement. Ideally, this will be a clear, simple to understand system which will remove many of the current anomalies in the present fee structure. HMCS will subsequently publish a formal consultation paper setting out its proposals and asking for comments. In addition to the form, the ESA and ACEA have jointly submitted a paper setting out comprehensive details of a fee structure which we believe will satisfy the main concerns of government. Rather than making a charge for each individual act, the paper puts forward a scheme for charging a fixed fee for groups of actions which should ensure a) that the bailiff is fairly remunerated and b) that debtors are absolutely clear as to what they will have to pay and the reasons they are paying it. The paper has been endorsed by the BPA.

Ministerial Statement - TCE Act 2007

Ministers have made an announcement following the review of Parts 3 & 4 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. In written statements presented to both Houses of Parliament Ministers said that they had decided not to implement Part 4 of the Act but have decided to implement Part 3 save for those provisions which would have extended bailiffs' powers of entry. Three specific measures will be initiated shortly including the creation of an on-line bailiff certification register and the inclusion of CRB checks as part of the application process for certification. The third measure; minimum training requirements and competences for bailiffs, awaits further details. Ministers state that the intention is to implement "full independent regulation" by 2012 but with a General Election due to take place in 2010 it remains to be seen whether or not such regulation ever takes place.

Certificated Bailiffs Online Register

The Certificated Bailiff Register, recently published on Her Majesty's Court Service (HMCS) website, contains a large number of errors and omissions, despite the full co-operation of our members in providing up to date information. We are very disappointed that such a public register is not completely accurate and reliable. The Enforcement Services Association has reluctantly come to the conclusion that no one, whether they be member of the public, professional or volunteer adviser or anyone working in the sector, should rely on the register to check whether or not a bailiff is certificated. Despite the inadequacy of the HMCS register we remain committed to assisting the Government in the provision of accurate and up to date information on the sector.

Media stories

ESA is very concerned that it has been quoted in two recent stories in the Daily Mail and Daily telegraph. We would confirm that no official quotes have been given to either publication, and that we do not recognise the statistics referred to in the articles. We are concerned that the two journalists concerned do not appear to have done their research thoroughly on an important subject

NOS Consultation response

We are pleased to confirm that, after a great deal of work from the sector representatives, the Enforcement Agents Suite of NOS is now available for Industry Wide Consultation on the Skills for Security website. You can access the consultation at the following address: We would urge all members to view and respond to the consultation direct. If you would prefer not to but would like to have a point made, then please let us know and we will respond on your behalf. The closing date for responses is the 7th January 2011. 0A

Merger with ACEA

On 26th January 2011 the members of both the Enforcement Services Association (ESA) and the Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies (ACEA) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a merger into one association. The new association will be called the Civil Enforcement Association. However, until the administrative procedures have been completed for the new association, both ESA and ACEA will continue to run in parallel under a single management structure.

Bolton Parking Case

On 22nd June 2011 his Honour Judge Holman, sitting at Bolton County Court, nailed the twin myths that warrants of execution from the Traffic Enforcement Centre were invalid if they were not issued to an enforcement company in paper format by the relevant authority and/or that a copy of the warrant was not produced upon demand by the debtor. The cottage industry that has been building up upon these two spurious contentions has finally been shown to be giving false hope and ill-informed advice to those foolish enough to support it financially. It is, however, unfortunate that the defendant in this particular case is likely to pay a high financial penalty through poor advice from those seeking to profit from his misfortune and enhance their own business interests. 0A

Code of Practice

1. Members will comply with the Rules of the Association.

2. Members should comply with the provisions of the National Standards for Enforcement Agents.

3. Members will maintain high standards of business ethics and practices in order not to bring the Association, the enforcement industry or the bailiff profession generally into disrepute.

4. Members will not discriminate on the grounds of age, colour, creed, disability, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

5. Members will comply with all defined legislation, case law and all health and safety requirements in carrying out enforcement. Members will comply with data protection legislation and maintain strict client confidentiality at all times.

6. Members should on each and every occasion when a visit is made to a debtors property which incurs the debtor in a fee, leave a notice setting out in detail how the fee was made up and retain a record of the said issue of the notice for a minimum period of 12 months, after the date of issue.

7. Members will ensure professional indemnity insurance cover is maintained to their client’s satisfaction.

8. Corporate members will maintain client accounts, which are audited at least once a year. All members will account for cleared funds in accordance with their client’s instructions.

9. Members will allow their clients free and full access to records for audit and investigation purposes in regard to their own instructions and case work.

10. Members will reply to all letters of enquiry or complaint within ten days of receipt. (Members may, at their discretion, require a request for a receipt to be accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope and may refuse to provide a receipt if the requirement is not met.)

11. Members will appear smartly groomed, dressed neatly and soberly, and behave courteously at all times. Members will not misrepresent the powers, qualifications, capacity, experience or ability of themselves their staff, agents or business associates. Letters, notices and other documentation sent or delivered to debtors will not be ambiguous or misleading.

12. Members will declare all associated interests in other companies, firms, associations or groups at the request of the Executive Director. Members will notify the Executive Director of any criminal charges brought against them, their employees, agents or business associates.

13. Members will co-operate with and submit to the Association’s disciplinary procedure (including recourse to independent adjudication). Members will, on request, provide any person or organisation with the name, address and the telephone number of the Association in order to make a complaint or for any other reason.

14. It is the responsibility of each and every Member to ensure that all employees, self employed agents and business associates are made aware of this Code of Practice and any codes of practice issued by their clients.