Bailiffs launch ABS “to capitalise on TV fame”

Mia: ABS logical next step

A firm of bailiffs made famous by a long-running TV series has launched an alternative business structure (ABS), in part to capitalise on the legal work that follows national exposure.

DCB Legal Limited received its licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority earlier this month.

Bailiffs firm Direct Collection Bailiffs (DCBL) allows its High Court enforcement and repossession teams to be shadowed by cameras for the programme Can’t pay? We’ll take it away!, whose fifth series is currently airing on Channel 5.

The programme, which reports viewing figures of 2-3m per episode, says it reveals “the dramatic stories of British people on the sharp end of bad debt”.

DCBL’s officers wear white shirts, black ties, and stab-proof vests with the company’s logo prominent.

In its publicity material, the company – founded in 2001 – claimed annual collections of over £15m and a 98% client retention rate. The firm suggested the programme had “humanised the enforcement industry”.

As well as High Court enforcement, it offers a range of services, including debt recovery and residential and event security.

In testimonials on the company’s website, a recent one from a correspondent, Conrad Icer, claimed: “In 18 months you can’t believe how many solicitors, calls to Citizens Advice etc I’ve made and not one of them had a clue what to do and how to progress. One call, one form to DCBL and all completed.”

Solicitor Yasmin Mia, the ABS’s head of legal practice and of finance and administration, who was admitted in 2010, told Legal Futures that she looked forward to the “flexibility” an ABS structure would enable.

She continued: “We do get a lot of enquiries for legal work, representation, court work in general for issuing claims, that kind of thing, so really it’s logical… [for us] to be able to take on external clients.”

She said: “A lot of work has been turned away” and so “the next step was to keep it in-house”.

The ABS was yet to be established as a functioning firm, she reported. It was currently her and two paralegals and they worked from offices at DCBL’s headquarters in Northwich, Cheshire.

She intended to recruit “another solicitor and some more support staff” who she envisaged would cover the areas served by the company’s five offices – in London, the North West, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales.

She added: “While we don’t want a massive influx of work from the get-go… It will get to that stage and… I do want a bigger team.”

Ms Mia said she did not appear on television herself. The company’s high public profile was “strange at times”.

She described the TV series as “a very good platform” for the company, adding that the agents that starred “work externally so I don’t see them on a day-to-day basis”.


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