What you need to know about bailiff’s rights

Usually packages for yourself, family or neighbours if they’re out; occasionally canvassers or salespeople but bailiffs?
If you’re an owner or a director of a business then you might be in for an unwelcome surprise visitor.
High court enforcement officers are resuming activity following a Covid-19 enforced pause, and from today (24 August 2020) will be allowed to visit residential addresses again as part of their legal duties.
Although amongst other health and safety considerations, they will have to refrain from shouting and raising their voices.
During the past few months and before this, lots of businesses and directors have changed their registered office to their home address. 
This is either in anticipation of moving offices at some point in the future or preparing a backup plan when negotiations begin with landlords for rent reductions or breaking a lease early for now unwanted additional office space.
The practical result of this means that bailiffs will be making a beeline straight to their door if they have cause to visit.

What can High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) do?

HCEOs have greater powers than other court officers and can execute any of the following awards or judgements against debtors:-


  • High Court Judgements issued in England and Wales (known as High Court Writ of Control)
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs) for £600 or above which have gone to the High Court for enforcement
  • Employment Tribunal decisions or ACAS Awards
  • High Court or County Court Possession Orders

The High Court Writ of Control empowers the HCEO to enforce a claim. They will contact any debtors and if necessary visit in person to agree a repayment plan.
It also gives them authority to seize and sell assets if payment isn’t made or if no plan is agreed and followed.
HCEOs can access land and enter buildings to get the goods but their actions are limited.
They can’t force entry to a residential property or a combined residential/business property without first gaining peaceful admittance. Once inside, they are allowed to return and can force entry later if required – if the debtor hasn’t stuck to the terms agreed on the previous visit.
They can force entry as necessary to any purely commercial or business premises although they’ll usually give prior notice of this action and have to re-secure the premises to the same standard as before once the goods have been taken.

What can be taken?

HCEOs are limited by regulations as to what they can take. Basically it’s anything except the following:


  • Basic essentials including clothing, bedding and furnitur
  • Goods that constitute “tools of the trade” that allow the defendant to work (up to a maximum of £1,350) including tools, books, vehicles, laptops etc
  • Goods belonging to anybody apart from the debtor – third party good
  • Leased, rented or items on hire purchase agreement
  • Goods that have already been seized by another HCEO or bailif

The last four months of 2020 are going to be tough for a lot of businesses being squeezed in every direction.
Reduced sales, staffing and working issues, increasing debts and support dwindling and ending.
It’s hard enough for directors to manage another otherwise sound and profitable business through choppy waters without the thought of being disturbed at their own home by a bailiff.
Debts won’t disappear of their own accord and not having a plan to deal with them will be like issuing an invitation.
If you have to make some tough decisions and choices in the immediate future or if you’ve already received correspondence from HMRC, courts or the enforcement agencies themselve then get in touch with us straight away
Every client receives a free initial consultation with one of our team of expert, experienced advisors and if you choose to work with us then we offer a full range of services ranging from business advice to full rescue and restructuring strategies
The earlier you take action and contact us, the more options you will generally have to choose from.