The Justice Committee has launcheed an inquiry into the enforcement of debt by bailiffs (also known as enforcement agents) in England and Wales. The Committee’s inquiry will run alongside an Ministry of Justice (MOJ) consultation and will focus on High Court and Civil Enforcement Officers, who collect debts such as Council Tax, parking fines and utility bills.

Reforms were introduced in 2014 which aimed to provide protection to debtors from the aggressive pursuit of their debt from enforcement agents, whilst balancing this against the need for effective enforcement and the rights of creditors.

However, debt advice charities suggest that the reforms have had only a limited effect and that there are still widespread problems with the conduct of bailiffs.

The Committee is seeking to answer the following questions:

  • What was the impact of the 2014 enforcement agent reforms introduced by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007?
  • Why has there been an increase in complaints regarding enforcement agents?
  • Is the fee structure working to encourage enforcement agents and debtors to settle at an early stage and to minimise the financial impact on debtors?
  • Does the current system of self-regulation work as intended, and if not, should enforcement agents be regulated by an independent regulator?

The call for evidence runs to 17 February 2019.