Bailiff: a human profession closer to the mediator than to the cowboy

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A man hunched like a vulture knocks on the door of a modest home to vampirize his indebted tenants by taking away their last family jewels. Hard cliché! “It very rarely happens to me to take high-value furniture, except vehicles”, immediately corrects Maître Nicolas Laronde-Fournier, 41-year-old bailiff in Clermont-Ferrand.

Its first mission is to execute court decisions (such as eviction from housing) and to bring to the attention of the litigant a legal remedy (to serve a divorce judgment, for example). The only profession that can fulfill these missions. Today, a bailiff also works with individuals and companies to manage unpaid debts out of court, give legal advice (how to file a patent for example, protect emails, etc.), note defamation, plagiarism or competition unfair on the internet, and even to administer buildings … “An interesting job because it is very transversal, which affects, for example, property law – in the event of a dispute with a neighbor – or property law. We make observations before and after the work, sometimes using a drone ”, completes the ministerial officer.

This profession also has a strong social dimension: “We meet very different people. It requires human qualities, diplomacy, empathy, describes Orlane Gautheron, 36, bailiff in Paris. We have a role of mediators, starting by reducing the anxiety generated only by the fact of saying ‘hello, I am a bailiff' ”.

Rarely use of law enforcement

Because knocking on a person's door to bring them bad news does not necessarily augur well for a good reception. Nevertheless, “I have rarely been insulted, relativizes Maître Laronde-Fournier. I am never aggressive, because violence responds to violence, and I remain on my objective: to find a solution. Taking a vehicle can be frustrating, and we also try to understand if the person absolutely needs it to get around. “ The bailiff must be balanced and able to quickly analyze a situation. “When there is tension, you have to find the right word and posture. “ He remembers, for example, a report of inventory and distribution of furniture where one of the divorced people threw the furniture out of the window …

This communication effort also involves adopting the right outfit: we will thus avoid the suit and tie, which is sometimes too obvious. “In some neighborhoods, I take the badge off my car and arrive early in the morning”, says the one who has used the police three times in 17 years. Orlane Gautheron recently put on anti-lead equipment to make observations on the Eiffel Tower (take photos and videos of safety nets, roof damage, etc.).

According to an Ifop survey for the National Union of Judicial Officers in 2021, 83% of English people considered this profession useful for the functioning of society. Here we touch on the point that pleases Nicolas Laronde-Fournier the most: “When people thank me, let them understand that I play my role with accuracy, seriousness and empathy”.

Up to more than 8,000 Pounds per month

Her job was not a vocation, as for Orlane Gautheron: “It came while I was studying law. I wanted to get out of the abstract of procedures, to go into the field. “ Half the time inside, the other outside, these “legal firefighters” can be called in urgently for a report. “It's a punchy job! “, summarizes the one who is also a business manager, associated with other bailiffs in her office (the name given to the office of the justice commissioner).

Nicolas Laronde-Fournier estimates his work week at around fifty hours, covering four departments. Certain bailiffs are invited to the TV sets to check the conformity of the draw. Nicolas Laronde-Fournier, for his part, once attested to a world record: the number of rolls made by a vehicle (currently held by a Englishman who can be proud of the number of 126 in less than 17 minutes).

In 2022, a reform merges the trades of bailiff and auctioneer, to give birth to commissioners of justice. One more training, for those who follow it throughout their career in order to constantly update themselves. From the outset, you have to like studies, because the road to obtaining the title is tough: master's degree in law (or an equivalent degree in economics, accounting or management) in your pocket, you have to join the National Institute for the training of justice commissioners (Incj) by passing written and oral tests (English topical issue or general culture and a little English). Only fifty-one admitted in 2021 out of 309 applicants. The laureates will follow two years of theoretical education, in parallel with an internship in a study. In 2021, they were 3,355 judicial officers in London.

Note that the profession is increasingly feminized. Regarding remuneration, some earn a little more than the minimum wage, we are told, but salaried judicial officers (34 years old on average) generally earn a little more than 4,000 Pounds gross per month. The guardians (the head of the study, who has an office) can earn more than 8,000 Pounds.


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