According to the BBC news this morning, the UK’s Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly says clarity is needed about what bailiffs are legally allowed to do.
New proposals are in the pipeline, including a ban on the use of force. There’ll be detail on what items bailiffs cannot take from homes.
This is welcome news. However, as I say in my book “Back to the Black”, there is already a code of conduct about debt collection; a code that is often broken by debt collecting companies. Let’s hope that the new code of conduct for bailiffs will be better observed, or this will be a waste of time and money.
Here’s what I say in my book about the existing code:
It is illegal for creditors to harass debtors. The following definitions of harassment are taken from the website of the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Sadly, I know from experience that many of these practices are used by many creditors.
Physical/psychological harassment: putting pressure on debtors or third parties is considered to be oppressive. Examples of unfair practices are as follows:
- contacting debtors at unreasonable times and at unreasonable intervals
- pressurising debtors to sell property, to raise funds by further borrowing or to extend their borrowing
- using more than one debt collection business at the same time resulting in repetitive and/or frequent contact by different parties
- not ensuring that an adequate history of the debt is passed on as appropriate resulting in repetitive and/or frequent contact by different parties
- not informing the debtor when their case has been passed on to a different debt collector
- pressurising debtors to pay in full, in unreasonably large instalments, or to increase payments when they are unable to do so
- making threatening statements or gestures or taking actions which suggest harm to debtors
- ignoring and/or disregarding claims that debts have been settled or are disputed and continuing to make unjustified demands for payment
- disclosing or threatening to disclose debt details to third parties unless legally entitled to do so
- acting in a way likely to be publicly embarrassing to the debtor either deliberately or through lack of care, for example, by not putting correspondence in a sealed envelope and putting it through a letterbox, thereby running the risk that it could be read by third parties.
Source: OFT website, “Debt collection guidance: final guidance on unfair business practices.”
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
For the BBC News item on the proposed law changes: click here
For a link to my book “Back to the Black,” containing details of the existing UK code of practice governing debt collection: click here