Complaining the the Court about a bailiff (enforcement agent).
If you have a very serious complaint about a bailiff (enforcement agent) it is vitally important to note that if the debt related to council tax or an unpaid parking charge notice then the local authority should be made aware. If the debt related to the enforcement of a court fines, the relevant Fines Officer at the Magistrate Court should also be notified.
A complaint to the County Court about a bailiff (enforcement agent) should always be a last resort and in particular, when the new bailiff regulations came into effect on 6th April 2014 significant changes were imposed regarding such complaints.
What has changed?
Up until 6th April 2014 complaints to the court regarding the conduct of a bailiff were made by way of a simple form called a ‘Form 4′ Since then making a complaint (to the court) has commonly been referred to as ‘making a Form 4 complaint’ There is no longer such a form and the term ‘Form 4′ is now redundant. There is a similar form but this is merely referred to as an ‘Enforcement Agent Complaint’.
Could I be liable to pay costs to the bailiff if my Complaint is rejected?
In the past two years (in particular) there has been an astonishing number of ‘Form 4′ complaints being made to the courts and the increase has mainly arisen from the many websites associated with the ‘Freeman on the Land’ (or other) similar movements.In fact, one particular one website even boasted to having ‘sold’ over 1,300 ‘Form 4 packs’. Given that there are only 1,500 certificated bailiffs in England & Wales this claim was clearly without foundation!!!
Given the number of complaints made it was inevitable that many bailiffs would instruct solicitors to represent them and sadly there have been many cases in the past two years where a court has imposed a significant cost order against the complainant in cases where the complaint was rejected. ‘Costs orders’ in the region of £3,500 to £5,000 were not uncommon and in one case…..a cost order of £22,000 was imposed against the complainant.
The relevant legislation regarding bailiff certification and complaints is outlined in the Civil Procedure (Amendment No.2) Rules 2014 and particular attention needs to be given to item 84.20(4). This states that costs will only be ordered in cases where the complaint fails to address the ‘fitness’ of the bailiff (certificated agent) or, if the complaint is considered an ‘abuse of the courts process’.
If you are considering making a complaint to the court about a bailiff (enforcement agent) Complaint or wish to discuss whether a an Enforcement Agent Complaint is appropriate, please do not hesitate to contact us either by phone or alternatively; by submitting a question.