The Ministry of Justice published a set of proposals to bring in more safeguards against aggressive bailiff actions and more flexibility for bailiffs in collecting debts. LITRG has broadly welcomed these proposals so far as they relate to collection of tax debt. But we remain concerned about protecting debtors’ legal and procedural safeguards, and that there should be parity with the rights and responsibilities of creditors and enforcement agents.
For example, whereas the enforcement agent is to be given the right to apply to the Court for authority to force entry or re-entry, there are no similar rights for the debtor to be heard or represented, only to be notified.
Poor communication and practices between HMRC and the enforcement agencies can lead to unnecessary and unwarranted visits by bailiffs.
Also, any exercise to transform bailiff action needs to consider the role of the creditor (HMRC), particularly where poor judgment leads to unnecessarily aggressive action, or where appeals or disputes are still outstanding and enforcement agents have not been kept up to date with developments. Any creditor should view sending in the bailiffs as a last resort for those who won’t pay.
LITRG’s response has benefited from contributions by The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and the charity TaxAid, which in turn draw upon the experiences of CIOT members and TaxAid staff and volunteers.
In the light of these experiences it is evident that there are, outside of the immediate area of this consultation, practice and procedural issues which we trust HMRC will take on board and address. These issues apply to internal communications as well as communications with enforcement agents.
Transforming Bailifff Action - LITRG response
Contact: Robin Williamson (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/ContactUs)