Bailiffs (High Court Enforcement Officers) were given permission by the High Court earlier this year to use remote access technology, such as Zoom, to seize personal assets from debtors.
As with personal visits by bailiffs to people’s private homes, virtual access will require the consent of the debtor.
The idea is that the parties involved will set up a Zoom, a WhatsApp or a Facetime call where the debtor shows the Bailiff around their property allowing the latter to list property to be made the subject of a controlled goods agreement.
The debtor may not then sell or dispose of the goods included and under the arrangement they may remain in the home while they carry out a repayment plan.
The judgement was made in January 2021, when Covid lockdowns precluded bailiffs from entering private homes. It was in part seen as a way of carrying out enforcement action while protecting bailiffs from the risk of catching Covid.
It is also seen as helpful to debtors in that they will continue to have the use of their property during a lengthy repayment plan.
Among the goods that cannot be seized are:
- Vehicles or computer equipment needed for work
- Things that belong to other people who are not named on the debt.
- Things needed to cook food e.g., cooker or microwave.
- Mobile phones
- Tables and chairs for the family
For those bailiffs dealing with a company, they are likely to continue to visit the premises since it is easier to gain entry as most business premises are open to the public or at least don’t lock their doors to visitors. Once inside they can go anywhere to ‘seize’ goods so long as they are not forcing entry through locked doors.