Bailiffs: Complaint about Certified Bailiff

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Complaint about a Certificated Bailiff to the County Court (Form 4)

With thanks to Tomtubby

If you wish to complain about the conduct or fitness of a Certificated Bailiff, under The Distress for Rent Act 1988, your complaint must be made to the court that originally issued the bailiffs certificate. This is a relatively simple process and the complaint is made on a Court document entitled: Form 4….Compliant against a Certificated Bailiff. (see the link at the end of this page. This form can be completed online or you may print a copy. There is no fee to pay.

Once the court receives your completed Form 4, they will send a report to the bailiff and any other interested party: normally the company that employs the bailiff. The Court will require that the bailiff delivers back to the court a written response within 14 days (or longer, if the court agrees.)

The Judge will read the written response from the bailiff and, if he is satisfied as to the bailiff’s fitness to hold a certificate, the court will issue a notice to the bailiff to that effect and no further action shall be taken in respect of that complaint.

If the bailiff fails to deliver the reply within the time specified, or, if upon reading the reply, the Judge is unsatisfied as to the bailiff’s fitness to hold a certificate, the court will issue a notice summoning the bailiff to appear before the Judge on a specified date and show cause why his certificate should not be cancelled. If the bailiff fails to appear at court, the Judge can proceed with the hearing.

You will be informed of the date of the hearing and you may attend and make a statement if you wish. We would certainly advise you to do this.

If you wish to attend , but cannot travel to the court where the hearing will be heard, you may apply to that court for the hearing to be transferred to a court with jurisdiction to issue bailiff certificates nearer to you.


After the hearing the judge may take the following action:-

  • Order compensation to be paid to you. This means that the judge can award you a sum of money from the “Bailiff Bond”.
  • Cancel the bailiff's certificate. This means that the bailiff will no longer be entitled to levy distress for rent, road traffic debts, council tax or non-domestic rates; or
  • Dismiss your complaint.

Any complaint must be dealt with at the court where the bailiff was granted his certificate. Your local County Court can find this information for you or alternatively there is a telephone number on the Form 4. (see the following link)


  • their behavior has been unduly aggressive, rude or threatening;
  • they have levied irregularly. This means that the correct goods have been seized, but the procedures followed were not correct e.g. the bailiff sells your goods after you had paid the debt;
  • the bailiff has levied excessively. This means that the value of the goods seized from you is more than the amount of the debt, or that you have paid an excessive amount to the bailiff. If more money is raised at auction than the debt, (this includes the fees, the cost or removing your goods and the cost of selling them), the balance should be returned to you. A levy is not excessive if there are no other goods that can be seized.
  • they have levied illegally. This means that they have levied on goods which cannot be seized; (ie: goods that are not yours)


If possible, you will need to ensure that you have first written to the bailiff company to request a complete breakdown of the fees and charges. You will find a Subject Access Request letter here: Bailiffs: Subject Access Request where you will see that we have provided a letter that can be sent to the bailiff company. By law, they must comply with this. Their response to your request is very important in order to establish whether they have overcharged you. In addition, in our How to Complain section on the front page, you will see details of the different offences, ie: illegal distress, irregular distress, or excessive distress etc that can be used as the basis of your Form 4 Complaint.


The boxes on the left hand side are self explanatory. The main section entitled:

Details of the complaint: is most important….the District Judge, although interested in the case, would prefer that you keep to the point and that your statement is factual…not hearsay. Try, if possible, not to be emotional. For example:

Don’t say: ” it was 6.30 in the morning and dark outside, we heard a loud knocking at the door, my husband got out of bed and went downstairs to open the door and he saw two men, one was very tall and looked menacing……

Instead say: On 16th January 2006, 2 bailiffs arrived at our home and told us that they had a warrant to enter our home.

Don’t say: They tried to charge me for 2 visits of £100 each , that I swear didn’t take place and £200 for a van which is an outrageous sum…..

Instead say: The bailiff’s charges are excessive for the following reasons: (refer to the Statutory Fee scale if possible, see below for details.)

They charged a van fee of £150, which I believe is excessive. I am providing a quote from a local company for the hire of a similar vehicle for a half day as evidence of this excessive charge (provide a quote if possible).


It would be most helpful to the District judge if you were to include a copy of the reply to your Subject Access Request. If the company have not complied, provide any copy letters etc. Enclose a copy of any receipts that the bailiff may have left you. If the bailiff seized goods that are not yours, again provide details.

If your complaint concerns an allegation about rudeness or bullying or the manner in which he conducted his visit, provide a statement, if possible from anyone who may have witnessed this. Remember to keep copies.


Note: The following are the most common Statutory Regulations. In the Downloads area we have a section entitled Bailiff Fees where you can access a copy of most of the fees, with many of them having an explanation.

For Parking Charge Notices:

The Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts. (Certificated Bailiffs) (Amendment) Regulations 2003. (Si 2072 of 1993, Si 1351 of 1998 and 1857 of 2003.

For Council Tax:

The Council Tax Administration & Enforcement (Amendment) 1993. Si 773 amended by Si 295 0f 1998, Si 768 of 2003 and Si 3395 of 2006

For Business Rates: The Non-Domestic Rating. (Collection and Enforcement) (Amendments) (England) Regulations 2003. As amended by Si 2210 of 2003 Schedule 3 Charges Connected with Distress (as Amended) and Si 3395 of 2006.

Download Form 4 here: Form 4