Seizing property, preparing official reports, carrying out court orders: bailiffs do some tough work. But they also play an important role as negotiators.
Bailiffs often have the reputation of being tough and heartless, but they’re not really like that. They are legal professionals trained to handle crisis situations.
Why do they have this reputation? It’s probably because of the tough jobs they often have to do, such as evicting tenants who haven’t paid their rent.
But these jobs shouldn’t keep us from seeing that bailiffs are also go-betweens and negotiators. They spend part of their time finding solutions to some difficult situations, such as bankruptcy, divorce and unemployment.
Bailiffs come face-to-face with some of life’s hardships. They often have to put pressure on people going through hard times to do something they don’t want to do, such as giving back a car because they can’t make their payments.
Bailiffs must have these qualities:
- diplomacy and ability to be firm with people in difficult situations who are not paying their debts
- nerves of steel
- willingness to follow strict legal and professional rules
Bailiffs play an important role in society. They have four main duties:
- deliver legal documents directly to people, such as documents ordering people to appear in court
- carry out court orders, such as evicting tenants who haven’t paid their rent
- prepare official reports on situations, such as a neighbour making too much noise or an apartment in bad shape. These reports might later be used as proof in court.
- collect money that people owe or get them to voluntarily hand over property, for example, taking back a car from someone who stopped making their car payments
Bailiffs work in an office, either alone or as part of a team. They travel a lot by car. They might have to work early in the morning, late at night or on weekends.
To become a bailiff you need a Diploma of College Studies (DEC) in Paralegal Technology or a bachelor’s degree from a law faculty.
You also need a permit from the Chambre des huissiers de justice du Québec, which is Quebec’s professional association of bailiffs.
To get a bailiff’s permit you must meet these requirements:
- complete a five-week training program
- complete a six-month supervised internship, known as a “stage” in French
- pass the exam set by Quebec’s professional association of bailiffs
Bailiffs also have to take 12 hours of continuing education courses every two years. These courses cover new developments in the profession and help bailiffs brush up on their skills and learn new ones.
It’s difficult to know how much a bailiff in Quebec earns on average. It depends on whether the bailiff
- receives fees, which is usually the case, or
- earns a fixed salary from a bailiff’s office.
For bailiffs who are self-employed and work for themselves, their income depends on how much work they do. If they have signed an agreement with a bailiff’s office that gives them work, the office pays them a percentage of the fees they charge.
What they earn also depends on whether they agree to work long hours during the week (up to 50 or 60 hours) and on weekends.
The Inforoute de la Formation professionnelle et technique website has information about the Diploma of College Studies (DEC) in Paralegal Technology, which leads to a career as a bailiff. The site lists CEGEPs that offer the program. It also has information on job opportunities for graduates.
The website of the Chambre des huissiers de justice du Québec (association of bailiffs) has details on the role, training and salary of bailiffs and the rules that apply to them (French only).
Emploi Québec’s Information sur le marché du travail website (job market information) has information about bailiffs, including the work they do, job prospects and necessary training.
The Service Canada website describes the work and job prospects of bailiffs. It also gives salary information and some statistics about the job.