Court fines and forced entry

Court fines and forced entry is a subject that we receive so many enquiries about so hopefully this page will be of interest. If the Bailiff/Enforcement Agent is enforcing an unpaid magistrate court fine, then unfortunately, legislation allows him to use force to gain entry into your property. He may use a locksmith for this purpose.

Is forced entry used very often to enforce an unpaid Magistrate Court fine?

No it is not. Forced entry is very rarely used and if it is, this would normally be where the debtor is at home, but refusing to ‘engage’ with the bailiff. In reality, it is the ‘threat’ of forced entry (or the use of a locksmith) that very often leads to payment being made.

Regulations allowing forced entry for Magistrate Court fines.

The general right allowing for forced entry in relation to an unpaid magistrate court fine, is provided under Paragraph 18 of schedule 12 of the Tribunal Courts & Enforcement Act 2007.

The bailiff has threatened to use a locksmith.

As the bailiff is enforcing an unpaid Magistrates court fine (for a criminal conviction), he is permitted to use a locksmith to gain entry into your property. If a locksmith is required, you will be liable for his fees. The purpose of him gaining entry, would be to ‘take control’ of your goods to cover the debts and enforcement fees.

Does the bailiff need to obtain a separate warrant to force entry for a Magistrate’s court fine?

There is a great deal of misunderstanding on this subject. For the avoidance of doubt, the warrant issued to the bailiff allows for him to use force to gain entry into your premises.  There is no requirement for him to apply to the court for a separate warrant.

Does the bailiff need to obtain permission from the court to force entry for a Magistrate’s court fine?

No he does not but he would be expected to gain permission from his Manager at the relevant enforcement company (Marston Group, Collectica Ltd, Excel Enforcement).

Note from Bailiff Advice.

If you have any questions about  about the right of a bailiff/enforcement agent  to force entry in relation to an unpaid magistrates court fine, you can email a question to us using our very popular Question page.  Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Details are on our Contact page.

A simple overview of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013  including details of  bailiff fees, the notices that must be given by the bailiff and items that are ‘exempt’ from being taken into control (by a bailiff) can be read here.