Skip to main content

Dealing with Debt Collectors and Enforcement Agents Part 3

Can I stop bailiffs (Enforcement Agents) entering my home by displaying a notice or asking them to leave? 

Many self-help forums say that you can stop bailiffs entering your property by displaying a notice at the property entrance or by asking them to leave, but Bailiff firms often reject such notices with statements such as “it’s legal nonsense”, or that “you found it on the internet and it has no legal bearing”, or that “it doesn’t apply”.   

Many will tell you their experience of how they ignore such notices or requests to leave when on the doorstep. 

So, why don’t we assess whether this strategy has any merit… 

Is it possible to refuse entry? 

In the book “Bailiffs ~ the Law and your rights” by John Kruse, it says (page 58) that it is possible to refuse a bailiff entry before he comes onto the property and cites Lord Scarman as having pronounced that one can place a sign on the front gate of a property forbidding entry to police officers and bailiffs and that such a sign would have to be respected.  John Kruse goes on to say that the right of entry that bailiffs possess is extremely weak. 

We explore this further….

In Lambert v Roberts [1981] 2 All ER 15, [1981] RTR 113, 145 JP 256, [1981] Crim LR 257 

A motorist had asked the police to leave his property, they refused and arrested him, the motorist then refused to give blood or urine samples.  Charges were brought under the Road Traffic Act 1972 for failing to provide a specimen of breath and blood and urine samples, which were subsequently dismissed on the ground that the officer was a trespasser and had acted unlawfully in requiring the specimen of breath.   

The Divisional Court held that the motorist’s request to leave had revoked the officer’s licence to be on his property.  As the officers had not withdrawn, they were not acting in the execution of their duty. The specimen of breath was not lawfully required and the arrest and requirement to provide the other samples had also been unlawful. 

In Morris v Beardmore [1981] AC 446, [1980] 2 All ER 753, [1980] 3 WLR 283, [1980] RTR 321, 71 Cr App Rep 256, 144 JP 331, 124 Sol Jo 512 

Police Officers attended the appellant’s home after a car accident which he was involved.  The Appellant refused to see them informing them that they were trespassers, and that he wished them to leave. Similarly, to the previous case he was arrested and taken to the Police Station where he refused to provide breath, blood or urine samples.   

The House of Lords at Appeal held that the power under Section S8(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1972 conferred on a constable to restrain the liberty of movement of a person required by him to take a breath test but did not authorise the constable to enter that person’s premises.  The constable was not acting lawfully as he was at the point of entering his home, committing the tort of trespass for which s 8(2) of the Act gave him no authority.   

In the Australian High Court case of Halliday v Nevill [1985] LRC (Crim) 802:

It was held that the existence of an implied licence for the public to enter a driveway of a private dwelling house will clearly exist not only for the purpose of communicating with, or delivery to, any person therein, but, more generally, for any legitimate purpose which does not cause injury to the occupier or interference with his occupation.

Having regard to common sense and public policy that implied licence would (at least until negated or revoked by the occupier), allow a member of the police force to enter upon any path or driveway when acting in the ordinary course of his duty for the purpose of questioning or arresting any lawful visitor or trespasser upon those premises.  

Further to the above 3 separate cases, in the cases of Davis v Lisle 1936, Bailey v Wilson 1968 and Snook v Manion 1982, it was found that obscene and abusive instructions or the use of expletives when asking someone to leave a premises can be sufficient to revoke an implied licence to remain on a premises. 

The right to request that someone leaves a premises appears to be a right that is supported in “The Bailiff Manual – A Procedural Guide for County Court Bailiffs, August 2012”, in which section 12.9 refers to the common entrance to a block of flats:  

“Your implied right to use the common entrance can be revoked at any time by a person authorised to do so e.g. one of the tenants, a security guard, or a member of staff.  This means that if someone appears to have authority to ask you to leave, you must do so.  You cannot break into a common area or push past someone who has authority to ask you to leave.”

What about business premises, I hear you ask?   

In Macky v Abrahams 1916 a Police Officer was asked to leave a shop and physically removed from the premisesThe court found that although anyone had the implied licence to enter a shop, that the licence was revocable at any moment, for any reason, or for no reasonA shop keeper can refuse to do business with a customer and where he orders a person to leave the implied licence is ended. 

In summary:

A person having been told to leave is now under a duty to withdraw from the property with reasonable haste and if he fails to do so he is no longer acting in the execution of his duty but becomes a trespasser attracting a liability under a claim for damages. 

From the cases we have explored in this article, we can see that a Bailiff can be asked to leave the premises, and if they refuse, the law considers them a trespasser acting outside of their duty.

Moreover, that any action taken after that point of being asked to leave becomes invalid, and it seems that even if they do call the police, the police can be asked to leave with any action following the request to leave becoming invalid also. 

So, there we have it, if you are ever expecting a visit from a bailiff (by law they must give you notice before any visit), it would seem sensible to send a notice removing any implied rights of access (recorded delivery) to the Bailiff’s company and ensuring a sufficient notice is displayed at the property gates.  

Examples of various notices that one might use can be found within our library (members access).    

Want to know more?

We have a team of knowledgeable volunteers who are ready to embrace new members and offer support.  Join us to find out more. 

Join our membership today and be supported within a community, whatever your circumstances may be | Join now

Powered By MemberPress WooCommerce Plus Integration