Bailiffs are the law enforcement officers whose sole responsibility is to maintain order in the courtroom while the trials are being conducted. The Bailiffs play a huge role in the judiciary system. They work with the Jury, the judge, the public and even with the defendants.
The main purpose of a Bailiff is to act as a peace officer and by doing this they provide securities to a certain group of people. Their job role also falls within the correctional officer category such as deputy, marshal, and constable. Their duties mainly differ based on the type of court and based on the state regulations.
What is a Bailiff’s Role?
Usually, a Bailiff’s primary duty is to maintain peace in the court. They are trained to specifically ensure that the court cases run smoothly. These officers maintain all the policies of the court and they carry out all the orders bestowed by the Judges.
If the judge identifies that someone’s presence is not required inside the courtroom, then this is the task of the Bailiffs to expel that person from the room. The bailiffs also have the right to restrain that person if required.
These law-enforcement agents help to maintain a connection between the jury members and the public. Besides, they even escort the juries while moving from one place to the other, to ensure they do not have any contact outside the courtroom.
They maintain the records of all the proceedings that occur inside the court at the time of the trial. Mainly they work as intermediaries between the jury and the public, delivering important files and paperwork across the floor to ensure proper judgment.
Primary Duties of a Bailiff
Bailiffs are trained to search for unwanted arms such us, guns and bombs inside the courtroom. This type of law enforcement officers is mainly hired by the local, state and federal courts.
There are a lot of duties that a Bailiff needs to undertake, such as:
- When the Judge enters the Courtroom, the Bailiff’s duty is to make an announcement.
- They deliver the evidence to the Judges.
- Bailiffs maintain the court decorums and impose the Judges’ direction.
- At the time of sequestration and in the courtroom, these officers’ duty is to safeguard the Jury.
- They make sure that the judge has all the necessary documents during the trial.
- Providing the utmost security and medical services is the main duty of the Bailiffs.
- The Bailiffs notifies every detail to the people who are present inside the courtroom. This includes the jurors, courtroom watchers, and others.
- They guard the jurors through the night who are sequestered in the hotel rooms.
- They restrict the jurors from contacting anybody outside the court as their prime job is to safeguard them.
- They even interact with the defendants to help the Judges make rational decisions.
These are the main duties that a Bailiff mainly does. But you will always get them by your side wherever you will require any kind of help inside the courtroom.
How One Can Become a Bailiff?
To pursue a career as a Bailiff, one needs a high school diploma or GED. Often employers prefer applicants who have a two-or four years degree in criminology, law enforcement or other related subjects.
Special training is required if someone chooses to become a Bailiff. The training is based on enhancing certain specific skills, such as paralegal abilities. But there are certain processes that a person needs to undergo to become a Bailiff.
- First, visit the official website of the Local Government to apply for the job role of the Bailiff.
- The candidate needs to pass the Civil Service exam.
- Then, one needs to undergo a certain investigation process.
- The candidates are interviewed. Based on the interview, the individual is hired at a particular court.
- After the appointment, a training session is conducted. And in most cases, these training sessions are delivered through higher and experienced personnel, who have acquired enough skills and experience, with time.
- The Bailiffs need to have good communication skills as they have to deal with the defendant and the jury members.
- One must keep himself bodily fit to be a Bailiff. In the future, they might have to stand for hours inside the courtroom.
Workplace of a Bailiff
The Bailiffs mostly spend their work time inside the courtroom. They always need to be aware and conscious of the overall situation in a court. If any unwanted or uncanny events come up, at the time of the trial, they can help the jury members.
The entire responsibility of protecting the Jury and the people inside the courtroom is upon the shoulder of the Bailiffs. Sometimes, the Bailiffs can be found in the public sectors as well where they protect the jurors at the time of the sequels.
What are the Different Types of Bailiffs?
Bailiffs are also known as the Enforcement agents and their main work in the courts is to submit the debt, repossessed goods and even carry out the evidence of the tenants.
Bailiffs are usually of three types based on their job roles. And all these different types of Bailiffs have different authorities based on their jobs.
In the UK, there are primarily four types of Bailiffs, such as private Bailiffs, County Court Bailiff, High Court Enforcement Officers, and the magistrate’s Court Bailiffs.
1. Private Bailiffs
The private bailiffs are the self-employed ones and in certain cases they are hired by the small private firms. An organization sometimes employs them to fulfill their own purposes which include collecting the Council arrears and unpaid parking fines from the local authorities. They also collect the money that belongs to the HMRC.
2. County Court Bailiff
These types of bailiffs are directly hired by the County Court to gather all the reports related to the county court judgments. The bailiffs maintain a strict guideline at the time of collecting the debts. They are also part of the High Court Enforcement offices and have the right to break into business property. To recover the debt they can seize and sell goods.
3. High Court Enforcement Officers
The High Court Enforcement Officers are the persons who are mainly hired by the Ministry of Justice to enforce High Court judgments. The creditor who has more than £600 and mainly owned by the County Court Judgments, can transfer that money with the help of the High Court Enforcement Officers.
However, they won’t be able to transfer that money if the property is under the Consumer Credit Act. But this restriction is not applicable if the creditor has a debt that values to £25,000 or more.
4. Magistrates Court Bailiff
This kind of Bailiff works under the Magistrate Court. They primarily manage the money that is associated with criminal offenses which include fines. The bailiffs fall under one or the other courts.
This indicates that they are provided with a certificate that is granted by the court allowing them to carry out all the quotes that are given to them. The duties mainly imply the enforcement of a debt or protecting a tenant in certain cases.
Difference between a Debt Collector and Bailiff
All the Debt Collectors are not Bailiff. There is a huge difference between a Debt Collector and a Bailiff. In certain cases, the Debt Collector agents have the right to threaten the people if he/she denies paying the amount that they are requested.
However, the bailiffs and the Debt Collectors share the same power when it comes to enforcing a debtor to collect the money that one owns. But, they do not have the right to break into any one’s property without any legal permission.
Bailiff’s Golden Rules
The Golden Rules of Bailiff was first implemented on or after 6th April 2014. According to this new law, the Bailiffs were introduced as the Enforcement Agents.
With the enforcement of this rule, there are certain circumstances regarding calling, force entry, payments and complaining, where a Bailiff needs to maintain a certain order and decorum.
1. Regarding Calls
In terms of calling, the Bailiff has to follow certain rules. When it comes to sustaining contact with the clients, bailiffs can control the goods and the property that the clients own.
- According to the Golden Rules, before making a call to the clients the Bailiffs need to first send a notice.
- If the bailiffs know that someone is going to show up in the client’s house, he has to be aware that any external doors or windows of that house are not open.
- They have to keep all the details of the client’s vehicle. He has to make sure that the vehicle is locked when it is in the garage. If the vehicle doesn’t have any access to a garage, then the vehicle must be parked away from the property. But it is the responsibility of the bailiffs to place the vehicle in the appropriate area.
- The bailiffs always need to carry the Badge or ID card as proof of their identification when they will visit the court or a client’s place.
- In general, the bailiffs don’t get permission to directly enter the clients’ home in case it’s his first visit.
- The clients should not allow the bailiffs to enter the premises if they have misbehaved with them during their previous visit.
The enforcement agents have the right to take and return the goods to the client as per the agreement. But there are certain limitations to a bailiff’s work based on household items or the item that is owned by someone.
2. Regarding the Force Entry of the Bailiffs
There are certain specific situations where bailiffs can force entry to the client’s house or take up the property that belongs to someone.
- When it is necessary to collect the court fine of the criminal magistrates.
- They can break into the property that belongs to the County Court Bailiffs or High Court Enforcement Officers.
- Besides, they can take the property when it comes to collecting the tax debts that are under the HM Revenue or Customs.
Apart from this, there are also other types of bailiffs who play the same roles, but when it comes to the forced entry to any property, they have to maintain the same rule.
When it comes to making payments to the bailiffs, the payments need to be measurable so that every client can afford it. At the time of payment, the clients should maintain a budget sheet.
- If any client is struggling to pay the bailiffs they should mention a valid reason.
- They can write a letter to the bailiffs if they find it difficult to negotiate.
- The client should always keep a receipt while paying cash to the clients.
- At times, the client can take the help of the creditors to pay the bailiffs. This is only applicable when the bailiffs collect the council tax from the local authority.
- The client can seek help to get back the debt, in case, the debt belongs to a County Court or the High Court. This is also applicable if the property is owned by the Magistrate Court.
Can you File a complaint against a Bailiffs?
The clients can complain about their respective bailiffs if they feel there’s been an injustice. They can state their complaints to the court judges.
- The client can file a complaint if the bailiffs charge extra fees than the already mentioned amount.
- If the bailiffs misuse his power to conduct unethical means then the clients should complain about this to the court. It is necessary for the bailiffs to behave properly. They must work as per the Act and follow the rules.
- All bailiffs should own a certificate from their respective courts. And if any Bailiff imposes his power without any certificate, he will face penalties based on the Golden Rules.
- If the bailiffs misbehave, the certificate will be suspended for a certain period of time.
- The clients have the right to complain to the Local Government regarding the penalty charge notices.
- If the bailiffs use the withdrawn certificate, then there is a chance that these agents can face job termination.
There are certain scenarios due to which a client can go to the higher authority to complain about these agents.
- If the bailiffs get aggressive with the clients or misbehave with them.
- When the bailiffs provide unclear information about the rights of the clients.
- Sometimes the bailiffs do not consider the client’s circumstances and refuse to negotiate with them.
- If the Bailiff clamps the goods or property of the client then it is necessary to file a complaint.
There is a certain guideline that every Bailiff needs to follow. If they become vulnerable, the Bailiff has to turn their certificate back to the courts.
- They have to act according to the law all the time.
- The bailiffs should not threaten their clients.
- After taking over a property they cannot damage that.
- They cannot disclose the fact that they are about to visit a client’s house.
- They should respect all people irrespective of their religion and culture.
The bailiffs should follow a certain procedure according to which they have agreed to join the creditors.
What Can a Bailiff Take?
Bailiffs can take over the property that is jointly owned by anyone such as electrical items, jewelry or they can even take away the vehicle. If the bailiffs are collecting anyone’s debt, they can take the properties or goods, as long as the clients don’t owe any money. They can break into the client’s home to repossess the items if they are not allowed to take them.
What do the Bailiffs can’t Take?
As per the Government Rule, the bailiffs have to follow maintain and follow certain restrictions regarding owing any goods or property. The bailiffs can’t take the goods in specific cases, such as:
- They can’t own the property that belongs to someone else or the items that belong to the children.
- They can’t have pets such as dogs that are owned by the clients.
- The valuable things such as, vehicles, tools or computer equipment which is essential for work or study-related purposes.
- The properties that are already paid on finance.
- Any mobility vehicles or vehicles that have a blue badge, cannot be owned by the bailiffs.
- They can’t take over the domestic goods such as beds and beddings, cooker, chairs, microwave and fridge, washing machines, phones or any medicines for medical equipment.
If the bailiffs owe something that they belong to the clients, they have to make a complaint in the court within 7 days. The agent himself can claim the evidence of why they have taken the items. Or the clients can file a complaint to the ombudsman or to the Civil Enforcement Association.