Sheriffs and bailiffs (NOC 4421)

About this job

Sheriffs execute and enforce court orders, warrants and writs, participate in the seizure and sale of property and perform other related courtroom duties. Bailiffs serve legal orders and documents, seize or repossess properties, evict tenants and perform other related activities.

Sheriffs work for provincial or territorial courts and bailiffs may work as officers of the court, in private service as agents for creditors or as independent contractors.

People in this occupation:

  • may work in tense environments and  must be able to make quick decisions and tolerate stress
  • must be able to communicate clearly and exercise good judgment
  • must have the ability to control hostile and dangerous behaviour
Common job titles
  • bailiff - court / sheriff's / writ-server
  • officer, court enforcement
  • process server
  • reposessor, car / truck / property
  • sheriff - chief / deputy / district
  • sheriff's officer
  • bailiff - court / sheriff's / writ-server
  • officer, court enforcement
  • process server
  • reposessor, car / truck / property
  • sheriff - chief / deputy / district
  • sheriff's officer

Duties

Sheriffs and bailiffs may perform some or all of the following duties:

  • serve statements of claims, summonses, warrants, jury summonses, orders to pay alimony and other court orders
  • serve writs of execution by seizing and selling property and distributing the proceeds according to court decisions
  • find property and make seizures and removals under various acts of Parliament
  • provide security for courthouse, courtroom and holding cells
  • escort prisoners to and from courts and correctional facilities
  • prepare comprehensive reports and affidavits and maintain records
  • attend court, escort witnesses and assist in maintaining order
  • provide security support for sequestered juries
  • provide services to the Coroner's Court
  • issue warrants for imprisonment, arrest or apprehension

Work environment

Sheriffs and bailiffs typically work 35–40 hours per week. Some may be required to work on call, do shift work, or work evenings and weekends.

Sheriffs work both indoors and outdoors, and much of their time is spent either in buildings or in vehicles. They typically have to travel, sometimes out of province, to escort the accused and convicted and to carry out court orders.

Sheriffs work under various statutes including the Criminal Code of Canada and the Sheriff Act. Court bailiffs are sworn in under the Sheriff Act and work under this statute.

Sheriffs and bailiffs may have to face tense interpersonal situations when carrying out court orders, transporting and supervising the accused and convicted, or maintaining order in courtrooms. Sheriffs are equipped with enforcement tools and may have to use necessary force to protect people from harm and maintain safety.

Insights from industry

This is a very small occupational group and few new openings are expected in the coming years. The majority of the openings that arise will be due to retirements.

Industry sources also report that there are limited opportunities for court bailiffs. Workers are only appointed as court bailiffs if they work for contractors who have contracts with the Ministry of Attorney General to provide bailiff services. There are a limited number of these positions in the province, turnover is low and the work term is restricted to the length of the employer's contract with the Ministry of Attorney General.

Those who have completed the necessary educational requirements and have previous experience working as bailiffs or sheriffs or in law enforcement will have an advantage in finding work.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Sheriffs and bailiffs typically begin work in entry-level positions such as field trainee. Experience as a deputy sheriff or bailiff, or in custodial, escort or security work is required prior to becoming a sheriff. Sheriffs may advance into a position with the British Columbia Sheriff's Service Executive.

With experience, sheriffs and bailiffs may manage their own bailiff service company. They may also further their education and move into other areas of law enforcement, such as police work

Additional resources