Bailiff Advice Guide

A free resource with all the information you need to handle bailiffs properly.

Key Facts

Your Rights

The Law


Bailiff Debts

Bailiff Companies


The UK's First Bailiff Relief Charity.

We are a charity that helps people who are facing bailiff action.

Our aim is to aid the prevention or relief of poverty amongst persons who are in debt.

Bailiff Complaints

How to make a complaint about a Bailiff or Bailiff company.

First Steps

Does the matter complained about concern the actions of a certificated bailiff? If the matter is in relation to other matters such as the enforcement of High Court writ, the actions of a High Court Enforcement Officer, county court bailiff or debt collector then the association cannot assist.

Is the company or individual a member of the association?

If not the association cannot assist you. If it is, you first need to have sent a formal letter of complaint to the company, or individual, and allowed them sufficient time to deal with the matter and respond. Please note that the association and its members are not legally obliged to deal with third party advisers, however, they will normally deal with bona fide organisations but only if they can show that they have written authority to act.

If you remain dissatisfied with the response from the member company you may then refer the matter to the association. Please note that the association does not accept complaints via email nor does it correspond via email on complaint issues.

If you have failed to raise the complaint with the member company within six months of the date of the incident leading to the complaint, or with the association within six months of the date of the member company's final response to that complaint, the association may refuse to investigate the complaint.

What do I need to send to the association?

1. Copies of the correspondence between you and the company regarding your complaint. Do not send original documents unless specifically requested to do so by the association. Documentation is not returned unless an administration fee is first paid. Papers relating to complaints are destroyed six months after receipt or three months after the completion of complaint procedure, whichever is the greater.

2. A completed and signed complaint leaflet which can be downloaded from our website here. This should include brief details of the nature of the complaint. The association cannot look into any aspect of a complaint that has not first been formally put in writing to the member and sufficient time allowed for the member to respond to the complaint (28 days from the receipt of the original complaint).

3. If further information is required the Director General of the association will write to you requesting such information.

4. Correspondence regarding complaints is not currently considered by the association in e-mail format or by telephone. All documentation should be sent by post, unless otherwise directed by the association.

The Complaint Process

Complaints are dealt with by way of examination of the documents provided by the complainant and the relevant member. Please ensure that all relevant documents are sent to the association for consideration. However, the provision of excessive and irrelevant documentation will, at best, slow the investigation of the complaint and could hinder the proper resolution of the complaint.

Complaints cannot be discussed over the telephone nor can advice be given on bailiff issues. Such assistance should be sought from local or national advice agencies such as Citizens Advice, Advice UK or National Debtline or from a qualified legal practitioner.

Utilising the association’s complaint procedure will not put a hold on further enforcement activity. The association has no power or authority to intervene in the enforcement of a debt subject to a court order or warrant. We have no power to prevent the visit of an enforcement agent nor can we prevent the seizure of goods.

What Happens Next?

The Director General may refuse to investigate, or continue to investigate, any complaint which, in his or her opinion, is unfounded and/or frivolous and/or vexatious.

Upon receipt of your complaint the Director General, unless the above applies, will request a detailed report from the relevant member to cover the points made in the complaint. Upon receipt of the requested report he/she will write to you and inform you as to whether the complaint can or cannot be upheld.

If the complaint is not upheld and you feel that you have compelling grounds to appeal the decision of the Director General then such grounds should be put in writing to the Director General and the matter will be considered by selected members of the Executive Council of the association- none of whom will be connected to the member subject to the complaint. 

The decision of the Executive Council will be notified to you by the Director General in due course.  If the complaint is upheld the Executive Council will ensure that the member company concerned complies with their decision.


A certificated bailiff is an individual who has been granted a certificate to levy distress (seize goods) by a County Court judge in matters such as the enforcement of non-payment of council tax, business rates which have resulted in liability orders having been granted, parking and other traffic offences that have been granted a warrant of execution at the Traffic Enforcement Centre, non-payment of fines from magistrates’ courts, non-payment of child support awards and failure to pay commercial rent.

A debt collector is an individual who recovers money owed under contractual transactions such as credit card debt, loans and the purchase of household goods and vehicles. Such an individual can seize the goods concerned, in certain circumstances, but cannot seize other goods unlike a certificated bailiff.

The association can only deal with complaints that relate to the activity of its members, whether corporate members or private members. Details of our members can be found here.

The administration fee for the return of documents would normally be £10.00. However, where a substantial volume of paper was involved this fee would increase and be notified to you by the Director General. Payment of this fee would be required before the documents were returned.

The UK's First Bailiff Relief Charity.

We are a charity that helps people who are facing bailiff action.

Our aim is to aid the prevention or relief of poverty amongst persons who are in debt.