A bailiff will target your vehicle due to its high saleable value in order to recover capital to use against the payment of your debt. If this does happen then we suggest that you seek help, for click here for more information
When can’t the bailiff take your vehicle?
If the vehicle is leased or subject to a hire purchase agreement the bailiff cannot remove it to sell and use as payment as it is still legally the property of the leasing or purchase company.
They cannot remove any vehicle that you do not own or have borrowed.
The bailiff cannot take your vehicle if it is used as part of your business, study, education or employment.
They cannot remove any vehicle that is used for police, fire or ambulance purposes.
They cannot remove a vehicle displaying a valid British Medical Association badge or other health emergency body certification.
They cannot take the vehicle if it was clamped before 6am or after 9pm.
They cannot take the vehicle if it is in use; i.e. being driven by the owner or another driver.
They cannot take the vehicle if the appropriate Notice of Enforcement hasn’t been provided.
If you register your vehicle through a limited company the vehicle belongs to the business, it isn’t part of your personal belongings so cannot be removed by the bailiff.
Ways to avoid having your vehicle taken
Park it on private property
A bailiff can only remove a vehicle that is parked on the owner’s property or on a public highway or parking space. If you park your vehicle on a friend’s or neighbour’s property, or in a private or commercial parking space, the bailiff doesn’t have the correct authority to remove the vehicle.
Fit a disabled badge
A bailiff cannot remove any vehicle displaying a disabled blue badge inside the vehicle. You should take a photograph of the vehicle displaying the badge to be used as proof in any resulting court proceedings.
If you can prove that the vehicle is used in the transportation of a disabled person then there are exceptions to the removal of the vehicle even without them displaying a blue badge.
What not to do
Do not try to sell the vehicle
Do not attempt to sell or transfer the vehicle. This claim will never work for you against the bailiff.
Do not attempt to remove a wheel clamp
The bailiff’s property is protected by law. This includes the wheel clamp so any damage you cause will be liable to prosecution.
Tracking your vehicle if seized by the bailiff
It’s possible to hide a tracking device in your vehicle. For under £50 you can buy such a device with a year’s mobile network and SMS subscription that will show you the vehicle’s position via Google Maps and text you whenever its location changes.
If the vehicle has been taken unlawfully you have the right to recover it yourself, and you can only do that if you know where it is.
Recovering your vehicle
Report it stolen
You should report your vehicle stolen to the police as soon as the vehicle is seized. The police won’t be interested as it is a civil matter and even if they don’t accept that it is stolen you will be better protected if you attain an Incident Reference Number and the police will also have to tell you where you can find your car.
Tell the DVLA
Your car has been taken without permission so you must report it to the DVLA. If you don’t you may be liable to fines for failure to report a change of registered keeper. By warning the DVLA that there are legal proceedings in progress this will prevent anyone driving the vehicle on public roads. The vehicle will be recorded as SORN until the court action is completed.
Make an Interpleader Claim
If you believe any of the rules in seizing a vehicle have been broken you can hire a solicitor to prove it and recover your vehicle.
Pay the debt
The only immediate way to retrieve your vehicle is to pay the debt in full. In certain cases you may be able to claim the amount back from the court if the vehicle was seized wrongly or if they have been seen to have broken any of the rules.
On recovery of your vehicle
Do not sign any document supplied by the bailiff as a condition of recovering your vehicle. They have no right to hold the vehicle and any document they pursue you to sign will be in order to waive your right to making a claim against them for the damages to your vehicle.
You should make a list of all damages incurred against the condition of your vehicle prior to being taken and use them to compile your claim for damages. Gather quotes for all repairs before submitting.
Action against damage
It is very likely that your vehicle will be damaged in the process of a bailiff’s seizure. In order to claim against this you should make a comprehensive guide about the condition and content of the vehicle.
Create a video
Film and time-stamp a video as proof on your mobile phone showing all of the vehicle and its current condition. Include the number plate and the complete front end of the vehicle. If already clamped make sure to show where the clamp is fitted and how.
Be sure to include all paintwork, the condition of the wheels, bonnet, roof, interiors, all door locks, windows and openings. If you can get under the vehicle show the condition of the body underneath, the exhaust system, engine pan and fuel lines. A forklift can cause a great deal of damage if used in the removal of the vehicle often to a point where the vehicle could be written off.
Open the boot to show the contents, the spare wheel, any tools and emergency equipment. Also show everything contained in the glove compartment and if possible to do so lock it, and show that it is locked.
If you can you should also show the engine and all fluid levels as equipment used in lifting vehicles can often damage the steering and the hydraulic brake system.
Record the mileage and the fuel levels. All this information is and will be relevant in proving the damage incurred and to make the maximum claim against the bailiff for all of your losses.