What Is a Bailiff Enforcement Notice?

February 9, 2024 / FAQs

Companies which are struggling to keep up with their debt repayments are likely to see an increase in the pressure that is applied from their creditors. Creditors are unlikely to leave a missed monthly repayment unaddressed. They will, typically, make some attempt at communication with the company that owes them money. Should this attempt at communication go unanswered, and monthly repayments continue to be missed, then creditors are likely to employ debt collection methods. Amongst these methods is the hiring of bailiffs.

Creditors with an outstanding debt that has gone unpaid may send bailiffs to your company as a means of debt recovery. These bailiffs may seize company-owned assets in lieu of repayment, equal to the outstanding loan value. However, bailiffs have certain rules to follow, and failing to do so can cause serious problems. One such rule is the serving of a bailiff enforcement notice.

In this article, Clarke Bell will discuss the bailiff enforcement notice, what it means for you, and what might come next.

What is a bailiff enforcement notice?

A bailiff enforcement notice is a document that bailiffs must submit in order to pay a company a visit. An enforcement notice can be sent to a company that has repeatedly failed to make repayments, causing creditors to lose faith in voluntary repayment as a possibility. Upon receiving an enforcement notice, it is important to act quickly. Bailiffs will be able to visit your company after seven days, excluding Sundays and public holidays, putting your company’s assets at risk.

What happens if I don’t respond to the notice?

Failing to respond to a bailiff enforcement notice will result in bailiffs paying your company a visit after a seven-day grace period. Bailiffs do not have to visit immediately after this seven-day period has expired, making it a possibility that they will catch you off guard.

If bailiffs visit your company after this seven-day period has elapsed, then they will likely make an attempt to enter the company premises through unlocked doors or windows. If they have a warrant, permission is not required, and entry can be forced. Should this be the case, bailiffs are likely to be accompanied by a police officer.

Once inside your company’s premises, bailiffs are not likely to seize any assets on the first visit. Instead, they will make a formal note of your company’s assets, such as cars or equipment, placing a notice on any assets they intend to seize on subsequent visits. Once marked, you cannot transfer or dispose of an asset. At this stage, there isn’t a lot that can be done by the company. As such, it is best to avoid the situation escalating to this point.

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Can the enforcement notice be invalid?

In some circumstances, an enforcement notice will be considered invalid, removing any authority the bailiffs would have otherwise had. The most common instance of an invalid enforcement notice is one that includes incorrect information.

If your bailiff enforcement notice includes any factual errors, such as the wrong name, address, or an incorrect loan amount, then it will be considered invalid. Likewise, if your enforcement notice has not properly informed you of the seven-day period, or was not properly served to you, then it will also be considered invalid. If your enforcement notice is considered invalid, you can lodge a formal complaint which, if successful, will bar the bailiffs from visiting your company. They will then need to serve another bailiff enforcement notice and give another seven days before they pay you a visit.

While the above is one of the most common circumstances, an enforcement notice can be considered invalid in other ways. Namely, if bailiffs visit your company before the seven-day period expires, then you may lodge a formal complaint, removing their authority over your company. Any assets marked for seizure will not be eligible for removal, and another enforcement notice will be required. Lastly, an enforcement notice served by debt collectors is all but powerless, as debt collectors do not operate with the backing of a court.

What can bailiffs do if the enforcement notice is valid?

If your bailiff enforcement notice is valid, bailiffs can take action after seven days of the notice’s serving, excluding Sundays and public holidays. After this time period, they will be able to visit your company and attempt to seize assets.

When seizing assets as a form of repayment, bailiffs will generally target a small quantity of high-value assets. This usually means that bailiffs will target company vehicles, machinery, heavy equipment, valuable stock, and so on. Bailiffs will generally avoid seizing large quantities of low-value assets, though they will do so if no other alternatives are available. Assets will continue to be marked for seizure until the total asset value matches the value of the outstanding loan.

Responding to a bailiff enforcement notice

If you have received a bailiff enforcement notice, mounting a quick response is vital. Your responses can include the following methods:

  • Repay the loan in full.
  • Reach a repayment agreement with your creditor. This can be arranged through the bailiffs, or directly with your creditor using a Company Voluntary Arrangement.
  • Check that the particulars of the notice are correct. While somewhat uncommon, it is possible that you received an enforcement notice meant for someone else.
  • Dispute the enforcement notice, if you spot any factual errors.
  • Appoint an insolvency practitioner (like Clarke Bell) to help you find and implement insolvency procedures as a solution to company debt problems.

Clarke Bell can help

If you have received a bailiff enforcement notice, and you want to discuss the option of putting your company through an insolvency procedure, we can help you. Clarke Bell have more than 29 years of experience in helping company directors to find the best solution to their financial problems. The most common option is to place the company through a process called Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL).

Contact us today for your free advice to see if a CVL is the best option for you and your company.