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National Debtline

Advice you can trust

Bailiff action

Personal debts

The law on bailiffs is complicated. This page gives more information to help you understand your rights and how best to deal with bailiff action for personal debts.


We are part of a campaign for bailiff reform. You can help us by:

  • sharing your experience about bailiff action; and
  • using #bailiffreform on social media.

Golden rules

This short guide lists the 'dos and don'ts' to follow when dealing with bailiffs collecting personal debt.

This covers the golden rules to follow if a bailiff calls and:

  • bailiff entry rights;
  • making payments; and
  • how and when to complain about a bailiff.

Suspending a bailiff's warrant

This fact sheet tells you what to do if you have a county court judgment and receive a bailiff's 'warrant of control', or are visited by a County Court bailiff.

Use this fact sheet to:

  • suspend a bailiff's warrant on a county court judgment; or
  • make an application to the County Court to reduce payments that the court has said you must make.

Council tax recovery

This fact sheet explains a bailiff's powers if they are collecting a council tax debt from you.

Use this fact sheet to:

  • deal with bailiff action;
  • help you negotiate with the council or bailiff; and
  • complain about bailiff or council behaviour.

Magistrates' court fines

This fact sheet describes what the magistrates' court can do to recover money owed for a fine.

Use this fact sheet to:

  • deal with bailiffs if the court uses them to recover fines;
  • help to prepare for a court hearing; and
  • help you to negotiate with the court.

Penalty charge notices (PCNs) for parking

This fact sheet tells you about civil parking penalties. These are different to criminal fines.

Use this fact sheet to:

  • work out your options for dealing with the penalty;
  • help you appeal if you don't agree with it; and
  • deal with bailiff action to recover the penalty.

High Court enforcement

This fact sheet tells you about how the High Court can become involved when creditors take action to recover money you owe.

Use this fact sheet to:

  • see if the debt you owe could be enforced in the High Court; and
  • understand your rights if High Court Enforcement Officers try and take control of goods.