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Charity fears 'unlawful' bailiffs

New government legislation will facilitate the unlawful behaviour of bailiffs, the Citizens Advice charity has warned.Having already passed through the House of Lords, the tribunal, courts and enforcement bill receives its second reading in the Commons today.The bill extends the powers of bailiffs to enforce debts, including consumer credit debts, by forcibly entering domestic premises.Even those who have not paid their credit card bills could face the wrath of bailiffs who, CA claims, commonly employ "intimidation, harassment and excessive fee charging".David Harker, CA chief executive, said the bill "gives bailiffs greater powers without any proper regulation â€" a recipe for abuse on an unprecedented scale"."It is a scandal and a disgrace that six years after the government made a commitment to bring in independent regulation, the misery and abuse continues. It has to stop."CA case studies conducted since October last year reveal a litany of abuse by bailiffs.Nearly two-thirds allegedly employed harassment or intimidation, while 40 per cent misrepresented their powers of entry. A quarter threatened debtors with imprisonment."We are urging MPs to make sure the bill includes independent regulation to rein in the worst excesses of bailiff behaviour," Mr Harker added."It is vital that the bill also provides strong safeguards to ensure that forcible entry is only used as an absolute last resort, and only after the vulnerability of the debtor and their ability to make repayments have been taken into account."

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