A large County Court in London has written to its legal clients to warn them that some of their scheduled evictions face being cancelled or rescheduled.
The announcement has been made by the Civil and Family Court in Barnet (main picture), one of the major hubs handling evictions in North London.
It says, as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) press office has confirmed to LandlordZONE in recent days, that the delays are being caused by some court-appointed and paid bailiffs pulling out of ‘high risk’ evictions where they face possible injury to life and limb.
In these cases, the MoJ is struggling to provide personal protection equipment such as stab vests and other body armour and these evictions are therefore being stopped or delayed.
Barnet court says it is “sorry that this may affect your scheduled appointments but will ensure they are rebooked as soon as reasonably practicable”.
While this extraordinary situation would in normal times raise eyebrows, given the already long lead times for many landlords seeking to evict tenants, it has lead evictions expert Paul Shamplina (pictured), founder of Landlord Action, to warn that the bailiff system is now at risk of a severe crisis.
Saying the problems go back many years and that this latest blow is exacerbating existing structural weaknesses in the courts system, he adds: “This is just the beginning and without intervention the problem is going to get worse and worse.
“The historic lack of investment in the courts is now being compounded by changes in regulations and rising interest rates, sparking a landlord panic to exit the rental market.”
Landlord Action is calling on judges at County Courts to start granting leave to transfer more eviction cases with serious arrears to the High Court to share the burden of rising workload, as an increasing number of County Court bailiff evictions are being suspended.
Daren Simcox, CEO of High Court Writ Recovery, a private bailiff firm specialising in High Court writs and evictions across the UK, says the number of County Court bailiffs employed by courts to attend evictions has been waning as government policy has affected team sizes, meaning some bailiffs now cover multiple courts resulting in unmanageable workloads.