Bailiff enforcing a debt more than 12 months old

Enforcement of the debt may be out of time.

1. You need to find out from the creditor of council what DATE they instructed the bailiff company, then:

2. You need to find out from the bailiff company what date is printed on the Notice of Enforcement. Use a bit of caution, bailiff companies can be dishonest about the date and what address it was given.


If the date on the Notice of Enforcement is more than 12 months ago, then enforcement of the debt ceases to be lawfully valid.

This should not be interpreted as the debt itself being invalid. Only the ENFORCEMENT becomes out of time following 12 months from the date of the Notice of Enforcement.


Regulation 9(1) of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 says:

9.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), the enforcement agent may not take control of goods of the debtor after the expiry of a period of 12 months beginning with the date of notice of enforcement.



The creditor may be able to obtain a fresh warrant depending on the debt.


Court fines

The bailiff company can send a new Notice of Enforcement to the debtors current address, but the debtor may be able to lodge a section 14 statutory declaration to invalidate the conviction and nullify the fine and stop the bailiff enforcing it.


Council Tax.

The existing liability order never goes out of time, but the debt it carries will expire after six years under section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980. Even if a Liability order has been made to secure the debt, that only carries an enforcement power, but the sum continues to be nullified under Section 9 of the Act. That is why there is no need to have an end-date on a liability order.


Traffic debts.

The warrant cannot be renewed after 12 months from the original issue date. The debt dies Part 75.7(10) of the Civil Procedure Rules.


High Court Writs.

The service life of writs is 6 years from the date of the original judgment. After that, the debt and the enforcement power ceases to have effect. 83.2(2)(a) of the Civil Procedure Rules.


If a bailiff takes an enforcement step with an expired writ or warrant, then they are liable for an action brought for breach of Paragraph 6(3) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which states;


(3)The property in all goods ceases to be bound when any of these happens—

(a)the amount outstanding is paid, out of the proceeds of sale or otherwise;

(b)the instrument under which the power is exercisable ceases to have effect;

(c)the power ceases to be exercisable for any other reason.



A debtor can bring an action under paragraph 66 of that Schedule, which states;


66(1)This paragraph applies where an enforcement agent—

(a)breaches a provision of this Schedule, or

(b)acts under an enforcement power under a writ, warrant, liability order or other instrument that is defective.

(2)The breach or defect does not make the enforcement agent, or a person he is acting for, a trespasser.

(3)But the debtor may bring proceedings under this paragraph.