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Bailiffs explained – new book explores untapped area of law enforcement

7 January 2022

A new book on civil enforcement agents, popularly known as bailiffs, has been written by a Senior Lecturer in Law at the School of Law and Politics.

Dr Wendy Kennett’s book, Civil Enforcement in a Comparative Perspective was published in November 2021 and seeks to explore an area of law enforcement which is historically uncharted in academic spheres. Much has been written on the regulation of lawyers, civil procedure, the judiciary and the administration of the civil courts in Europe but in contrast to the situation in criminal cases, academic interest in the civil process appears to dwindle after final judgment.

Civil enforcement agents exercise state authority and in many countries have extensive access to information about debtors making them an important part of the machinery of justice.  Bailiffs in England and Wales have the power to seize goods and conduct evictions, but in other countries the seizure of a much wider range of assets is often concentrated in the hands of a single enforcement institution.

Speaking about her book, Dr Kennett said, “The topic of civil enforcement agents is such a fertile research territory. I was astonished that so little is written about a group of people who have significant coercive powers.”

Dr Kennett’s book investigates the surprising differences in bailiff regulation across Europe and asks how far governments are taking responsibility for the public management of enforcement activities in light of their impact on citizens, the increasing role of credit as part of financial inclusion policy, and the consequent rising levels of consumer indebtedness across Europe, exacerbated by the pandemic.

Dr Kennett teaches on Contract and Commercial Arbitration modules at the School of Law and Politics and is in the process of introducing a new module on Law and Poverty. Dr Kennett was the Founding Chair of the Bailiff Law Reform Group (BLRG), now the Enforcement Law Review Group – a cross-industry, non-policy making discussion forum.

Further information on Dr Kennett’s book can be found on the Intersentia website.

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