Challenging High Court Enforcement Officers fees

You can take Court action over bailiffs in the following situations:

  • you want to recover goods or possessions back because you believe the bailiff didn’t follow the right process and wrongly removed items
  • you suffered a financial loss because of something the bailiff did wrongly
  • you disagree with the bailiff’s fees and charges

You can also apply to the court for a decision where there is a disagreement over how much money any joint owners of belongings sold should receive.

If you believe the bailiff’s fees and charges to be wrong, you should discuss this with the bailiff firm first.

If you are unable to reach an agreement on the fees and charges, you can apply to the Court to make a decision about how much should be charged.

The Court will consider the following kinds of cases over fees:

  • a dispute about the amount of fees and expenses charged by a bailiff
  • where you, the creditor or the bailiff wants the Court to assess how much should be charged in fees and expenses.

You can apply to the Court to assess the amounts charged, and must include the following evidence:

  • evidence of the amount of fees or expenses you are disputing, for example a copy of the bailiff’s bill
  • evidence that the fees or expenses are not correct, for example a copy of an agreement saying you settled the debt before it was necessary to start the next stage of the process
  • evidence that the bailiff has charged more than once for any action
  • evidence that you are vulnerable and therefore should not have been charged fees without the bailiffs first giving you the chance to get help to deal with the situation
  • if the dispute is over the percentage fee for any stage, evidence of the amount of money recovered and your own calculation of what the percentage fee should be.

According to the CAB, in all these situations, it’s a good idea to complain to the bailiff’s firm and the creditor directly before deciding to take court action. Complaining directly can often be a quicker, cheaper and easier way of solving a problem than going to court. If you complain to the creditor, they may agree to stop the bailiff action.

Bailiffs are allowed to charge a fee for each stage of the process of taking action against a debtor. There are three separate stages, called compliance, enforcement and sale. For each stage the bailiffs can charge two fees, as follows:

  • a fixed fee, which is set out by law
  • a percentage fee which is only charged on any money to be recovered over £1500 (£1000 for bailiffs acting under a High Court writ).

Fees can only be charged once for each stage of the process, no matter how much work was involved in that stage of the process. For example, even if a bailiff had to visit a debtor’s home three times during the enforcement stage, they can only charge the enforcement fee once.

Bailiffs should give vulnerable people the chance to get advice and assistance before they charge enforcement fees or any other costs.

For all kinds of bailiff action, apart from bailiffs acting under a High Court writ, the table below explains what is involved at each stage of the process, and how much can be charged for that stage.

Stage of process Action Fixed fee Percentage fee (over £1500 only)
Compliance Writing to inform you of the debt, requesting payment, issuing an enforcement notice £75 0 per cent
Enforcement Visiting your home or business premises to take control of goods, including everything involved in identifying, valuing and taking control of your belongings £235 7.5 per cent
Sale Removing and selling the belongings that were taken control of in the previous stage £110 7.5 per cent

For bailiffs acting under a High Court writ, the fees are different. The percentage fees are charged on any money that is to be recovered over £1000. The enforcement stage is also split into two separate parts. Both the first and second stage enforcement fees can be charged where you don’t reach a controlled goods agreement with the bailiff. This table shows the fees that bailiffs can charge for enforcing a High Court writ:

Stage of process Action Fixed fee Percentage fee (over £1000 only)
Compliance Writing to inform you of the debt, requesting payment, issuing an enforcement notice £75 0 per cent
First Enforcement Stage If you reach a controlled goods agreement with the bailiff and keep to the payments agreed, this is the only enforcement stage fee that will apply. It covers everything from the first visit to your property until the time the agreement is completed or broken. £190 7.5 per cent
Second Enforcement Stage If you don’t reach a controlled goods agreement with the bailiff or you fail to make the agreed payments, you’ll be liable for this fee in addition to the first enforcement stage fee. It covers visiting your home or business premises to take control of goods, and everything involved in identifying, valuing and taking control of your belongings. £495 0 per cent
Sale Removing and selling the belongings that were taken control of in the previous stage £525 7.5 per cent

Fees for eviction

Fees work differently for eviction. Bailiffs can become involved when a landlord applies for a warrant of possession. Unless the landlord is at fault, the tenant will usually have to pay the landlord’s application fee.

As well as the fixed fees and percentage fees a bailiff can charge, they may also bill for other expenses involved in the bailiff action, (disbursements). The costs charged must have been reasonably incurred and are limited to the following:

  • the cost of storing belongings after they were taken away
  • the cost of hiring a locksmith to get into the property, in cases where the bailiff was allowed to use reasonable force
  • any court fees the bailiff had to pay if they needed to apply to the court at any point and where the application was granted
  • where belongings are sold at an auction house, the auctioneer’s costs, including commission of up to 15 per cent of the selling price, out-of-pocket expenses and advertising the sale of the goods
  • where an online auction or other type of sale is used, the cost of up to 7.5 per cent of the money made
  • any other exceptional costs the bailiff had to pay during the process of recovering the debt – but only if the bailiff has a court order for these costs.

For all expenses, you have the right to see receipts and other evidence for the costs the bailiff has added to your bill, apart from online auction costs. The bailiffs cannot charge for anything that is not included in the list above.