BAILIFF of a Sheriff is the officer employed to execute writs and processes on behalf of the sheriff, and is most commonly found in possession of a defendant's goods and chattels, which in default of payment are to be sold for the benefit of the plaintiff. Such a bailiff is bound to the sheriff, with sureties, for the proper performance of his duties, and is thus known as a bound bailiff. Should the bailiff commit any tie pass or wrong whilst about the execution of his office, the sheriff would be liable therefor.
Of a County service of summonses and orders and the execution of warrants and precepts issued out of a County Court are in the hands of an official called the High-bailiff, by whom are appointed and dis missed the assistant-bailiffs. It is the latter who generally come in contact with the public, the high-bailiff devoting himself to the regulation of their work and supervision of their actions. But should an assistant-bailiff make any default or commit any wrong in connection with his duty, the high bailiff, as well as his assistant, is responsible therefor to the party aggrieved. Such a default would occur if the bailiff, by neglect, connivance, or omission, lost the opportunity of levying an execution ; and apart from any action in respect thereof, the party aggrieved would have a right to apply to the County Court judge for the bailiff's dismissal. Plaintiffs in County Court actions are frequently put to much trouble and inconvenience by an uncon scionable delay in the service of summonses, the levying of executions, and the arrest of defendants committed for non-payment of the judgment debt. Wherever such delays occur, complaint should be at once made to the high-bailiff; as a preliminary to an application to the judge if the delays should continue; the result of which will be a speedy performance of the bailiff's duty, and a regretful disinclination on his part to see the half crown in the defendant's hand, whilst he is yet unable to see the defendant himself. Before an action can be brought against a bailiff for any act done in obedience to an order of the Court, six days' notice thereof must be given. A bailiff who holds a warrant for the possession of a tenement, may enter upon the premises at any time between the hours of nine A.M. and four P.M.
For distraint for rent.—Until the Law of Distress Amendment Act, 1888, any person, however disreputable or irresponsible, was allowed to levy a distress for rent, extortion and abuse being consequently generally very much in evidence. But now, no one may act as a bailiff to levy any distress for rent unless authorised by a certificate granted by a County Court judge or registrar. The certificate may be special, so as to apply to a particular distress or distresses, or it may be a general one. Persons who 'hold such certificates and engage in the business of levying distress are now known as certificated bailiffs. If any one not holding a certificate should levy a
distress, the person so levying, and any person who has authorised him so to levy, will be deemed to have committed a trespass. A managing director of a limited company, who distraincd in person for rent clue to the company, was held to have "acted as a bailiff," and so committed a trespass through not being certificated. This was in 1892, but had it occurred after the coming into force of the amending Act of 1895, that managing director, or any other person so acting without a certificate, would have been, as they now are, liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ..e10, and would still be liable in respect of the trespass. A certificate may at any time be cancelled or declared void by the County Court judge.
A general certificate, which can only be granted by a judge, authorises the bailiff to levy at any place in England or Wales. The applicant for a general or special certificate must either be a person holding a certificate under the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1883; or a practising solicitor; or a ratepayer rated on a rateable value of not Fess than /15 per annum ; or a person who gives security by way of bond, deposit, or guarantee, in the case of a general certificate to the amount of £20, and in the case of a special certificate to the amount of ,E5. He must, if the application is for a general certificate, satisfy the judge that he is resident or has his principal place of business in the district of the Court ; and must state whether he has ever been refused a certificate or had a former certificate cancelled. A general certificate will—unless previously determined—have effect until the 1st of February next after the expiration of twelve months from the granting thereof, and it may be renewed from time to time for the like period. Notwithstanding cancellation or expiration by non-renewal, a certificate will have effect for the purpose of any distress where the bailiff has entered into possession before the date of the cancellation or expiration. On any application to cancel a certificate, whether the cancellation be ordered or not, the security may be forfeited in whole or in part, and the amount forfeited paid to the party aggrieved. If the certificate is cancelled, the security also will be cancelled, and the deposit, if any, returned; but if it is not cancelled and forfeiture has been ordered, a fresh security must be found. The only fees, charges, or expenses to which a bailiff may be entitled in respect of a distress are tet out hereunder ; a table thereof, and a list of the certified bailiff's in the district, are posted up in every County Court office; on request of the tenant the bailiff levying a distress must produce to him his certificate and copy of the table; and in case of a dispute as to the amount of fees payable, the registrar will settle it.