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How to become a Bailiff (Scot)

bailiff (scot) careers

What does a Bailiff (Scot) do?

Bailiffs work for the courts enforcing court orders, or for clients or government departments that are owed sums of money.

In Scotland, officers of court (sheriff officers in the regional civil courts, and messengers-at-arms in the Court of Session) serve legal documents and carry out enforcement procedures. They have the authority to force entry to both domestic and commercial properties. They also offer practical advice to the debtor.

Sheriff officers are permitted to work in a geographical area for which they hold a ‘commission’.

Messengers-at-arms may travel anywhere in Scotland to enforce orders of the court.

Duties might include:

  • processing details of debts, warrants or court orders
  • writing to debtors requesting payment and making visits
  • negotiating payments with debtors on behalf of clients
  • removal of possessions to be sold in lieu of payment, or repossessing commercial premises and changing locks on the doors
  • arranging for seized goods to be safely stored and insured before being sold.

What's the working environment like working as a Bailiff (Scot)?

Most bailiffs work around 37 hours a week Monday to Friday, but are often called out at weekends. Evening and early morning work is also common. Part-time work is possible. Many bailiffs combine this work with other jobs.

Bailiffs are office-based but spend most of their time travelling and visiting debtors.

A clean driving licence is necessary.

What does it take to become a Bailiff (Scot)?

To be a bailiff you should:

  • be confident when meeting different people
  • be willing to learn and understand all the legal requirements for a bailiff
  • have tact and negotiating skills
  • be assertive, persistent and able to resist intimidation if confronted by aggressive debtors
  • have the ability to cope with some very distressed debtors
  • be able to assess when people are speaking the truth
  • be able to assess the value of goods and possessions
  • have numeracy skills for calculating and negotiating payments with debtors.

Bailiff (Scot) Career Opportunities

In Scotland there are about 200 sheriff officers; around 130 of these are also messengers-at-arms. All bailiffs are employed within private business partnerships, and are commissioned to practise as officers of court.

Vacancies are infrequent. The members list on the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers website is a good place to start as contacts for possible vacancies.

Progression is from sheriff officer to messenger-at-arms.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Bailiff (Scot) that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers
11 Alva Street
Tel: 0131 225 9110

Courses to help you become a Bailiff (Scot)