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Bailiff Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Bailiff. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Bailiff
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Bailiff Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

• A court bailiff delivers legal documents to people, and might recover some kinds of debts.

• A certificated or private bailiff tries to negotiate getting debts paid. As a last resort, they can repossess property or remove a debtor's goods.

• In Scotland, officers of court serve documents relating to debt recovery. They also give debtors advice on their best course of action.

Most bailiffs work 37 hours a week from Monday to Saturday, between 6am and 9pm (9am to 5.30pm in Scotland). They often work in the early mornings and evenings.
Bailiffs are based in an office, but spend most of their time travelling.

They should be:

• confident when meeting people
• tactful but assertive and persistent
• skilled in negotiating
• good with figures.

In England and Wales there are no minimum entry qualifications, but in Scotland they are five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English and maths. There is no upper age limit for entry and maturity is a definite advantage. In England and Wales bailiffs may be employed either by firms of bailiffs or directly by county courts. The courts employ about 1,000 and there are approximately 1,300 certificated bailiffs. In general opportunities are decreasing. In Scotland, there are about 200 sheriff officers, about 130 of whom are also messengers-at-arms.

What does the role encounter?

Bailiffs work for the courts, enforcing court orders. They also work for government departments or other clients that are owed money. A court bailiff delivers legal documents (such as summonses) to people. They might also recover some kinds of debt. A certificated or private bailiff tries to negotiate getting debts paid. As a last resort they have the legal power to repossess property or remove a debtor's goods.

County court bailiffs in England and Wales deliver legal documents and deal with county court orders, mainly for debt or possession of property. Private bailiffs deal with all other kinds of debt, mainly magistrates' court orders and taxes.

In Scotland, officers of court (sheriff officers in the sheriff courts and messengers-at-arms in the Court of Session) serve documents relating to debt recovery. They carry out all the steps in the laws of 'diligence' (as enforcement procedures are called in Scotland). They also give debtors advice on their best course of action.

A bailiff's duties might include:

• receiving details of a debt, plus a warrant or court order giving them authority to act
• writing letters to debtors asking for payment
• visiting them at home
• introducing themselves and showing identification
• offering money management advice
• negotiating instalments debtors can afford to pay and arranging payments
• either removing some of the debtor's possessions to be sold in payment of the debt, or repossessing commercial premises and changing the locks on the doors
• arranging for seized goods to be safely stored and insured before being sold.

In England and Wales, bailiffs cannot use force to gain entry to domestic premises. For example, they can enter through an unlocked door but not break the lock. In Scotland, they have the power to force entry to both domestic and commercial properties.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Most bailiffs work 37 hours a week from Monday to Saturday, between 6am and 9pm. They often work in the early mornings and evenings.

In Scotland, officers of court normally work from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, but are frequently called out at weekends and in the evenings.

Part-time work is possible and bailiffs have other jobs, such as enquiry agents. Self-employment is possible.

Bailiffs are based in an office but spend most of their time travelling and visiting debtors. They might have to stay away from home overnight or for several nights.

In Scotland, sheriff officers can work in a geographical area for which they hold a 'commission'. Messengers-at-arms travel anywhere in Scotland.

Bailiffs might have to do some heavy lifting if removing furniture from debtors' premises. They need a clean driving licence.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• The starting salary is around £8,000 or £9,000 a year.
• An experienced bailiff can earn £15,000 to £20,000.
• The highest salary a bailiff can earn is around £25,000.

Earnings vary depending on whether they are employed or self-employed and the type of work they do. Many firms pay a basic salary plus some form of commission or incentive payments.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• to be confident when meeting different people
• to be able to learn and understand the legal steps they need to take and what they can and cannot do
• tact, assertiveness and persistence
• to be able to handle intimidation from aggressive debtors
• to be able to communicate with all kinds of people
• to be able to cope with very distressed debtors
• to be able to assess when people are speaking the truth
• to be able to assess the value of goods and possessions
• negotiating skills
• to be good with figures to calculate and negotiate payments.

What type of training will I receive?

Training is mainly on the job, with some relevant short training courses.

In Scotland, training normally takes three years and is a combination of on-the-job training and short courses.

Career Progression:

In bailiff firms, progress is to senior bailiff, assistant manager and manager. County court bailiffs are civil servants. They can be promoted to bailiff manager.

A sheriff officer with at least two years' experience can take further training, pass an additional exam and apply to be commissioned as a messenger-at-arms.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Civil Service Administrative Officer
Court Administrative Officer
Credit Manager
Debt Collector

Where can I find further information?

Certificated Bailiffs Association, Ridgefield House, 14 John Dalton Street, Manchester M2 6JR. 0161 839 7225. Website:

Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers, 11 Alva Street, Edinburgh EH2 PH 0131 225 9110. Website:

Other Useful Bailiff Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Bailiff job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Bailiff Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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