Do you want to know what county court bailiffs can legally charge a debtor for their services? Maybe you have received a CCJ for council tax debts, unpaid personal loans or something else…
The costs changed were changed in April 2014 but are fixed in law in England and Wales. Discover county court enforcement agents fees in this guide with us!
And we’ll even touch on high court enforcement officer (HCEO) fees, which are a little more eyewatering if they escalate to a later enforcement stage.
County Court Judgment (CCJ)
Bailiffs of any kind will only get involved once the debt is legally enforceable. To make it so, the creditor must take the debtor to court and get the judge to issue a County Court Judgment (CCJ). With a CCJ, a county court bailiff can be employed to enforce the debt.
Is a CCJ only enforced with a bailiff?
There is a chance that a bailiff working for the court will not be used to enforce a CCJ. Other options exist for the creditor, such as a charging order or attachment of earnings.
High Court Enforcement Officer or County Court Bailiff?
Before we dive into how much county court enforcement agents charge to enforce the debt, you need to make sure you are really dealing with county court bailiffs.
The county court is one of two civil courts in England and Wales. The other is the high court, which typically deals with larger debt cases or debts not covered by the Consumer Credit Agreement.
Creditors may pay £66 to transfer the case to the high court for enforcement; one benefit of this is the high court adds statutory interest of 8% to the money owed.
But why is this important?
If you are dealing with certificated enforcement agents from the high court (HCEO) instead of the county court, the fees will differ at certain stages, especially the latter stages.
We have a separate section at the end of this bailiff costs guide to cover high court enforcement officer fees.
How much do bailiffs charge?
County court bailiffs follow a three-step process to enforce the debt, aiming for a resolution as early as possible within that process.
As bailiffs move to the next stage, the value for their services increase, and therefore so do the fee you have to pay.
So, what are the rules on bailiff fees?
- Notice of Enforcement
When a county court bailiff gets involved, they will write to ask for full payment or to agree on a repayment plan secured against your valuables (Controlled Goods Agreement).
This initial communication will also provide notice of their intended first visit if you do not make any arrangements. The purpose of this potential visit will be to repossess your items which are then stored and eventually sold at an auction.
As soon as the enforcement agent sends this letter, a fee of £75 is added to your debt.
£235 (+7.5% of debt above £1,000)
If you make arrangements within seven working days of their first communication, they will not come out to enforce the debt by trying to take control of goods. But if you ignore them or fail to make a CGA to pay the debt, they will come to your address.
The costs for bailiffs to come to your address and try to collect the money owed is a fixed fee of £235. If they are trying to collect more than £1,000, you will also be charged 7.5% of the value of the debt above this figure.
For example. If the enforcement agent is pursuing a debt of £2,000 and they have to pay you a visit, you’ll be charged £235 plus 7.5% of £1,000 (= £2,000 debt – £1,000 threshold). Therefore you would be charged an additional £75, taking the total costs in this scenario up to £310 for the enforcement stage only.
If the enforcement agent has to come back again, you can be charged this fee again.
You might be able to avoid this fee is you are deemed vulnerable. Contact the enforcement agent to explain why you are vulnerable. Some examples of vulnerable debtors include single parents, disability, mental health issues or recent bereavement.
£110 (+7.5% of debt above £1,000)
If the county court bailiff manages to take control of your goods, they will then keep them stored before selling them at auction. Preparing the goods for sale and selling them comes with an additional cost of £110, plus 7.5% of the value of the money owed above £1,000.
The service provided by the bailiff can become very expensive, especially if it goes beyond the first Notice of Enforcement stage. Make contact with the bailiff business early to search for a resolution and avoid these hefty fees.
Miscellaneous county court bailiff costs
The bailiff may be allowed to charge you for other costs associated depending on your case. If during the process they have to use external services, such as locksmiths or companies to tow your vehicle, these costs may be passed down to you as well.
If you are dealing with high court enforcement officers with a high court writ, then you may be charged even more of the legal costs paid by your creditor.
Do I have to pay bailiff fees?
You have to pay county court bailiffs the fixed fee they add to your debt for their work. If they have charged you more than the fee allowed by law, you should make an official complaint.
There are some cases when you can avoid some of the county court bailiffs’ fees. This is when the debtor is classified as vulnerable.
How much do bailiffs get paid in the UK?
The amount bailiffs get paid in the UK can vary drastically. Some entry-level bailiffs will be paid just above minimum wage, whereas more experienced certificated enforcement agents will earn over £35,000 per year.
Can county court bailiffs force entry?
In the majority of cases, county court bailiffs cannot force entry to collect payment or take control of goods.
Even when they do have permission to force entry, this does not mean they can break down your front door. They can employ a locksmith to gain access, but you may be charged the locksmith fees too.
The limited instances when a bailiff can use reasonable force to enter is when they visit to collect:
- HMRC tax debt
- Some court fines
- The debtor’s possessions located inside the property, where these goods are named on a Controlled Goods Agreement (CGA) which has defaulted.
Moreover, county court bailiffs must provide evidence of their identity and they must come at a reasonable hour – unlike a high court enforcement officer who can attend at unsociable times.
A high court enforcement officer (HCEO) may be able to force entry onto a business property, depending on the details of the case.
High court enforcement fees
As mentioned at the start of our article, when creditors apply to the court to transfer the case to the high court for enforcement – or if it already with the high court – other rules and fees will apply. There is an online form to apply.
The bailiff service is somewhat different as well; it’s usually a bit quicker.
When the case gets to the high court, their certified enforcement agents follow a process to enforce high court writs, also known as a writ of possession. The cost of taking it to the high court can be passed from the creditor to the debtor.
You high court enforcement officers more!
The high court enforcement officer (HCEO) will use a different fee structure to recover payment or take control of goods. The initial £75 charge is the same when first getting in touch, and the first visit has a cheaper fixed fee of £190.
But if you miss a payment as part of an agreement, they can charge you £495. Moreover, the sale stage of the process costs a whopping £525 plus 7.5% of the value of the money owed above £1,000.
Search free money advice services and bailiff help!
Whether you are struggling to understand the real cost of bailiff court fees, or are simply worried about having to deal with certificated enforcement agents, there is help at hand!
Get advice and support from a debt charity or organisation like Citizens Advice. Contact them now for an empathetic and knowledgeable service.