Many bailiffs possess the power to take items from either your business or your home. Though, the things they can actually take differ due to what type of bailiff they are and who they’re working on behalf of.
While it is true that some bailiffs have the power to take items, the items they can take varies in each situation.
What is a bailiff?
Bailiffs are agents instructed to retrieve debts on behalf of either a creditor or the courts. The amount of power a bailiff has is dependant on what type of professional position they hold.
This position can either be a high court enforcement officer (HCEO) or a debt collector. All enforcement agents must be fully certified with a Bailiff General Certificate from the county court, otherwise they are not authorised to continue in their proceedings. A HCEO is appointed by the court and collects debts on behalf of the courts. The debts they normally collect include CCJs, VAT income tax, national insurance, court fees and unpaid council tax.
Debt collectors will always be employed by privatised companies. The biggest and most notable difference between debt collectors and enforcement agents is that debt collectors have no special legal powers to actually collect a debt, but an enforcement agent does. If you do not give your consent, a debt collector has no right to take away your goods.
What can they take?
You should be aware that HCEOs cannot simply take any items they wish to. The things they take must be able to be sold on at auction. You may believe at times that enforcement officers are taking items almost randomly, there is a system and a well-worked out thought process behind it all. Only luxury possessions and those they believe can sell at auction will be taken. The luxury items we are talking about can include items such as televisions, video game consoles, tablets, jewellery and other valuables of a similar vein.
What they cannot take
As mentioned before, not everything can be taken by enforcement agents. They can take items if they are making a return visit after firstly making a ‘controlled goods agreement’, or if they have a ‘writ’ from a court. In situations such as this, where enforcement agents have the right to take goods away, there are still rules to be followed. Only certain assets can be taken and the following items are always excluded:
- Items that belong to other people within your household, this includes things that belong to your children
- Vehicles, tools or computer equipment you need for your job or for study, which together total a sum less than £1,350
- Anything you’re paying for on finance, for example a car bought using hire purchase or a conditional sale agreement. This is because it isn’t fully owned by you yet
- A Motability vehicle or a vehicle displaying a valid Blue Badge
- Items that are needed for you to live, or anything that has a direct impact on your health
How to stop bailiffs taking things they should not?
You need to know your rights in case you end up in a situation where a bailiff attempts to take something they’re unable to. You need to know how to defend yourself in these situations, as you’ll have every right to complain in a situation such as this one.
However, you will need to be prepared to provide evidence explaining why the item should not have been taken in the first place. Even if the item has previously been listed on a ‘controlled goods agreement’ if you can prove that it shouldn’t have been there in the first place the bailiff cannot remove it. This makes it essential that you have all the knowledge you need when having to deal with enforcement officers and the like.
Third party purchases
There are some items you’ll have no control of without getting the third-party owner to agree to help you out. Items which are on finance and are still owned by a company you made an original agreement with are known as ’third party goods’. For example, if bailiffs remove or clamp a car which is being paid for on finance, the third-party company you have the arrangement with will need to be the ones who complain. This may sound like it’s simply being done on your behalf, but it is needed in instances such as this.
If you need to prove that items are worth less than £1,350, there are multiple things you can do. For instance, you can use the original receipts for your items if you still have them, or you can collect current pricing evidence by searching online websites.
In order to make sure you keep of any vehicles you use to get to work each day, it’ll be essential that you can show proof of employment and why your automobile is an important aspect of your daily travelling routine. For example, there may be no other form public transport to get you there. Though, simply stating that you use it for getting into the office or travelling whilst on the job will normally be sufficient evidence to stop a bailiff from taking it away.
What you need to know is that High Court Enforcement Officers working on behalf of the courts, hold the power and entitlement to take possessions away from your home or business. Whereas, debt collectors who work for private firms do not have the right or power to take your possessions. Although items can be taken, what a HCEO can take is limited and there are strict rules in place regarding the process of taking goods. This means you have some sort of defence and a way to stop them from simply taking anything they desire.
How we can help you
Here at Business Insolvency Helpline, we can offer you a free-of-charge quote and recommend the best route for you to travel down. This may be finding a way of turning around your business, which will be our main goal in a situation like this, or it may be finding a successful way to wind up your company. Whatever the final outcome is, we’ll work hand in hand with you, the business owner, as we figure out the best decision for you to make in these troublesome times. Call us today and speak to an expert member of our team on 01246 912052.