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Trust Deeds and Bailiffs

Could a trust deed save you from the bailiffs? If you are unable to pay your debts you may be worried about bailiffs knocking at your door. In Scotland these “bailiffs” are called sheriff officers. The thought of someone knocking on your door for money, or to seize goods, can of course be very stressful and worrying. In this article we’ll explain when a creditor might instruct sheriff officers to recover money owed to them and the process they must follow in order to initiate this. We will also explain how a trust deed might protect you from such actions on the part of bailiffs.

A company that you owe money to cannot arbitrarily send bailiffs to your home. In Scotland a creditor must first serve the debtor with a document called a “charge for payment”. This is a formal demand for payment for any money owed. If you are unable to pay the creditor within the given time, generally two weeks, the creditor can then use “diligence” to take their money back. If you have not taken debt or trust deed advice, and you have been served with a charge for payment or other legal documents, we strongly advise you to seek immediate debt or trust deed advice.

‘Diligence’ is the formal legal term used for the steps a creditor can take to get their money back in Scotland. Before a creditor can use diligence they must have a court order called a “decree” or a document called a “summary warrant”. The term “protected” in a protected trust deed refers to the debtor being shielded from such diligence by creditors.

There are several diligence processes available to a creditor to try and recover money owed to them; one of these is called an “attachment” which gives the creditor the right to seize goods as long as they are not in the home. If however the courts grant an “exceptional attachment” this authorises removal of non-essential items inside the home. This is only granted in exceptional circumstances where the court is satisfied that the creditor has tried reasonable steps to negotiate with the debtor. This is a scary sounding situation, but you can avoid it completely by seeking a debt management solution like a protected trust deed.

A bailiff (sheriff officer) can be instructed by the court to call at your home only if they have a decree against you and issued a charge for payment which has expired. To avoid this issue altogether and to prevent debts worsening, you may consider a protected trust deed among other options.

You should not confuse a debt collector’s agent with bailiffs as they are very different and have different powers. Debt collection agencies often use agents to call upon a debtor at home in an attempt to make an arrangement to pay back the debt. Such debt collecting agents have no powers other than to contact you in person, on the phone or by letter. The distinction between the two is a subject that trust deed advisers are often asked about.

What should you do if you are worried that bailiffs will visit you soon? If you cannot pay your debts it’s vital that you seek advice from a suitably qualified person quickly. Sequestration might wipe out your debts. A trust deed or the Debt Arrangement Scheme might provide you with legal protection from creditors. A debt management plan might enable repayment arrangements to be negotiated with creditors so that Sheriff Officers aren’t instructed in the first instance.

If you’re interested in learning about how a protected trust deed in Scotland could save you from the stress (or threat) of a visit from the bailiffs, explore the rest of our website. Trust-Deed.co.uk offers trust deed advice from professionally qualified advisers, support from other forum users and a comprehensive selection of debt advisory information so you can find out all you need to know. Ring our expert trust deed team on 0800 043 7201 for further advice

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