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Home > Publications > Forms & Guidance > Guidance for professionals > National standards for enforcement agents

National Standards for Enforcement Agents

May 2002


The Lord Chancellor's Department has produced these National Standards for Enforcement Agents to share, build on and improve existing good practice and thereby to raise the level of professionalism across the whole sector. These standards are intended for use by all enforcement agents, public and private, the enforcement agencies that employ them and the major creditors who use their services. Private sector enforcement agents who are recovering debts owed to the public sector perform the vast majority of enforcement work, and this document has for the first time established a set of common standards to cover this activity. In order to improve the public's perception of the profession, enforcement agents and those who employ them, or use their services, must maintain high standards of business ethics and practice.

This guidance is the first document of its kind that will be sent on an individual basis to all certificated bailiffs and which has been so widely endorsed by the industry and by Government. The various trade associations, operating across the enforcement sector, make a valuable contribution in terms of raising standards, handling complaints and assisting their members. Membership is not obligatory but we strongly recommend that enforcement agents should join an appropriate organisation relevant to their sphere of activity. Enforcement is a difficult but essential task and those who operate in this field often face situations that require careful and sensitive handling. It is believed that the creditor and those carrying out enforcement share a duty to give particular consideration to vulnerable debtors or those who have special needs. Therefore, this document provides new guidance on some issues which may not be specifically covered in legislation, but which are relevant in a modern society.

Copies will be made widely available, including to the organisations listed below; in due course, it will be evaluated on its usefulness and to see how it may be further improved as we recognise that up-to-date guidance in this area is essential.

This national guidance does not replace local agreements, existing agency codes of practice or legislation; rather it sets out what the Department, those in the industry and some major users regard as minimum standards.

We recognise this document is not legally binding, but offer it as a helpful tool for the industry and for creditors which, it is hoped, will inform their own arrangements and against which they may benchmark their professional standards. We are working on the recommendations from Professor Beatson's Independent Review of Bailiff Law informed by responses to the recent Green Paper Towards Effective Enforcement: A single piece of bailiff law and a regulatory enforcement structure. As part of that work, in advance of future legislative proposals, and with the support and involvement of experienced people within the profession, these National Standards have been produced. We are grateful for the invaluable assistance and endorsement received from:

The Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies
The Advisory Group on Enforcement Service Delivery
The Certificated Bailiffs Association
The Child Support Agency
The Civil Court Users Association
The Court Service
The Department for Transport, Local Government & the Regions
Her Majesty's Customs & Excise
The Inland Revenue
The Institute of Revenues, Rating & Valuation
The Local Authorities Civil Enforcement Forum
The Local Government Association
The Sheriffs' Officers' Association
The Under Sheriffs' Association

Terms used

In this document we have used the following terms:

Papers copies, which can be reproduced locally, are available from Meeta Poojara on 020-7210 8654 or by e-mail to: Meeta Poojara

Professionalism and conduct of the enforcement agent

Statutory or Financial Requirements for Enforcement Agencies Endnote 1

Training and Certification


Information and confidentiality

Times and Hours


Vulnerable situations

Creditors' Responsibilities

Professional Organisations

Organisation Contact
Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies
Chesham House
150 Regent Street
London W1R 5FA
Tel: 020-7432 0366
Fax: 020-7432 0516
The Executive Director
Certificated Bailiffs Association
Ridgefield House
14 John Dalton Street
Manchester M2 6JR
Tel: 0161-839 7225
Fax: 0161-834 2433
Institute of Revenues Ratings and Valuation
41 Doughty Street
London WC1N 2LF
Tel: 020-7831 3505
Fax: 020-7831 2048
Sheriffs' Officers' Association
Ashfield House
Illingworth Street
West Yorkshire WF5 8AL
Tel: 01924-279005
Fax: 01924-280114
Under Sheriffs' Association
20-21 Tooks Court
London EC4A 1LB
Tel 020-7025 2550
Fax- 020-7025 2551
Local Authority Civil Enforcement Forum
Brighton & Hove City Council
Priory House
PO Box 2929
Brighton BN1 1PS
Fax: 01273-291 881


  1. Separate provisions regarding financial accounting and insurance may apply to public sector organisations who directly employ their own enforcement agents

  2. Distress for Rent Rules 1988




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