What is a Bailiff?
A bailiff is a person (whether they are in British Columbia or not) who acts, or assists a person to act, on behalf of another person in repossessing, distraining or seizing personal property or in evicting a person from a property. A bailiff can only take such action having first gained the proper authority and this may be provided through statutes, terms of contract, or under common law. The statutes (laws) under which a bailiff may exercise their authority include: the Rent Distress Act, Repairers Lien Act, Warehouse Liens Act, and Personal Property Security Act. Consumer Protection BC does not regulate the authority governed by these other statutes.
In British Columbia, there are two types of bailiffs.
Court Bailiffs, as they are commonly referred to, are appointed by the Attorney General under the Sheriff Act. Only Sheriffs and Court Bailiffs are legally authorized to enforce civil court orders. For example, only a Court Bailiff can gain the authority to evict persons from a residential tenancy and this action first requires a Writ of Possession issued by a Court. More information concerning this type of bailiff can be found here. Generally, Court Bailiffs do not fall under Consumer Protection BC’s purview.
The other type of bailiff must possess a licence from Consumer Protection BC and these bailiffs operate under the BPCP Act and related regulation. You can confirm if a person is licensed as a bailiff by Consumer Protection BC here. Some further information about this type of bailiff is provided below.
Generally, a bailiff’s reasonable fees and costs are considered to be a part of the amount owed by the debtor, and the fees may include but not be limited to: an hourly charge, towing, storage, filing and administration, operating costs (mileage), and taxes.
Bailiffs must conduct themselves in a professional manner and are prohibited from communicating in a manner that constitutes harassment which includes not using threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language.