Meet The CEO
Claire Sandbrook is the CEO of Shergroup Limited, which originated from the long- established law firm of Burchell and Ruston and the Sheriff’s Office for Greater London and Surrey.
Shergroup, as expert provider of enforcement services has developed its core business in a business solutions group. It is now building its range of business solutions grown from the heart of the enforcement business. Its heritage is now the bedrock for solutions for other business owners in the areas of managing
In 2020 it has built a shop of products to sell online which complement its services for its growing community. All of it is in the matching colour of purple!
As a qualified attorney with 30 years standing, Claire has combined her love of innovation with the new world of online marketing and shopping. Services are called “products” and are sold with certainty in the shop with a guarantee of money back if not entirely satisfied with the service.
Claire’s story is one of humble beginnings. She moved from her hometown of Norwich when she was just 18 to get a job with a London firm. Her first job was with Burchell & Ruston as an audio typist. That was 40 years ago. After 3 years of typing she decided she had all that she needed to get herself to college and complete her law degree. When she completed this and her Law Society examination, she was offered an article clerkship with Alastair and two years later he made her a partner when she qualified as an attorney.
In 1992 she took an equity stake in Burchell & Ruston and embarked on designing a ‘Way Forward’ strategy for the firm which would diversify the business away from the reliance of the Office of Sheriff. Even then she learned that you can never rely on one business revenue to sustain a business. It is better to have several businesses under your brand to weather the ups and downs of business life.
Contribution to writing
Alongside redesigning the business, Claire was able to write and contribute to the leading texts on the topics of enforcement. She began her publishing career way before blogs and the internet were readily available. Beginning in 1995, Claire made her first major contribution to a legal text, being “The Execution of a Sheriffs Warrant” when her daughter Alice was just one year old.
She went on to write two volumes of Halsbury’s Laws of England on the topics of “Sheriffs” and “Interpleader”. She then co-wrote the 9th edition of the leading text “Enforcement of a Judgment” before taking over the commission in her own name. She has now completed 3 further texts including:
Enforcement of a Judgment (10th edition) – published in 2006 by Sweet & Maxwell
Enforcement of a Judgment (11th edition) – published in 2010 by Sweet & Maxwell
Debt Recovery Through the Courts (1st edition) – published in 2008 by Sweet & Maxell
The Sheriff Entrepreneur
Ever an entrepreneur at heart and having now committed to build up the Sheriff brand in her own firm and across the country she created the Sheriffs Lodgment Centre in 1998. The Government had decided to review the structure of Sheriffs and their responsibilities, and it could have meant that Sheriffs lost their businesses to the county court system of enforcement. Claire spearheaded the highly successful National Sheriffs Campaign, which brought together Sheriffs from across England and Wales to raise awareness of the service they were offering. During this period, she sought out support from senior judges and other senior figures in the credit industry to agree that High Court enforcement was essential and should be retained. Lord Woolf, as the then Lord Justice of England and Wales, visited her office to review for himself the transfer up of county court judgments. His Lordship was impressed by what he found. A simple system delivering justice where it was needed.
By the end of the 1990’s Claire was definitely on a mission to get the word out about the success and value of the Sheriff’s system in England and Wales. She travelled extensively across the country to present her view of enforcement and to encourage more and more creditors to use High Court enforcement rather than just the County Court system. She lectured and created content for courses then and Shergroup will be re-purposing all that good stuff for a new generation of credit people today.
As a working Sheriff, Claire was appointed Under Sheriff of Surrey, in 1998 with her High Sheriff being the hugely popular Sir Richard Stilgoe, who wrote a song about Sheriffs. He also wrote the lyrics to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”. Over the years Claire managed the annual court opening at Guildford Crown Court in the presence of Her Majesty’s Judges, the High Sheriff at the time, and the Bishop of Guildford. It was a magical side to the role of Sheriff which brought many diverse people together to celebrate the delivery of justice in the most friendly and charming way.
By 2001 things were hotting up with the Government intent on reforming the Sheriffs, and Claire was even more strident in her views that the Office of Sheriff should be retained, accepting that it should morph into a more modern and accountable version.
She was appointed to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Group on Enforcement Service Delivery and worked closely with the Lord Chancellors review team on the enforcement of court judgments. This work culminated in the publication of the White Paper, ‘Effective Enforcement’, in May 2003. It was as a member of the Advisory Group she recommended to the then Lord Chancellor’s Department, that an online facility be set up to interrogate the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) database which would save Sheriffs’ Officers and county court bailiffs time in waiting for paper reports to be returned through the then system. As a result of this idea, £37,000 was found in a departmental budget to design and build the prototype of Shergroup’s Shercar system which is used today by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service as part of the SHERPA portal.
Launch of the Shergroup Brand
In 2004, Claire and her fellow Authorised High Court Enforcement Officers launched ‘Sherforce’ and ‘Sherbond’ to carry on the work of the Sheriffs in all 105 postcodes in England and Wales. Claire’s team also won Plain English awards for their leaflets explaining the work of Sherforce.
In 2005, Claire extended Shergroup’s operations into Delhi in India, created a Shergroup company in 2007 as Shergroup’s Administration and Financial centre. In 2018 Shergroup released its established team to work remotely across India with a remote management function. This enabled parents to work from home without the long commute into the City or to work from their hometowns outside of Delhi. Shergroup’s operations are managed on a secure cloud platform and it is the development of our SHERPA platform which has enabled us offer remote working to all our teams.
In 2002 Claire was nominated for her contribution to the credit industry following the successful implementation of the Sheriffs Lodgment Centre® which during 1998 and 2004 transferred nearly 500,000 judgments from the county court to the High Court. It was the “Coca Cola” of all enforcement services provided by High Court Enforcement Officers today.
In 2008 Claire was appointed Chair of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association. In this role she steered the Association to set up its Education Pathway using her position as the Vice-Chair of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Credit Management. She also developed the idea of HCEOs being able to enforce Employment Tribunal and ACAS awards which led to the UK’s Ministry of Justice developing specific changes to the process of transferring these awards up to the High Court for enforcement. In another period of change, she masterminded the Association’s response on High Court Enforcement Officers fees to the report of Alex Dehayne on the cost of delivering enforcement services. This insight, which was substantiated by other enforcement businesses, created the dialogue and agreement on the new fee scales in the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.
In the same year, Shergroup’s Charitable Foundation, The Sherbet Foundation, (), was awarded charitable status. The charity is a project to promote the work of professional enforcement working with families in debt. In 2010 the charity was shortlisted for a highly coveted Credit Today Award for Corporate Social Responsibility.
In 2009, Claire began promoting the work of Shergroup in the US, having been asked to speak at the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys () in Boston, as well as being asked to speak in Las Vegas on Outsourcing to The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (www.aca.org) and in Washington.
She also represented the High Court Enforcement Officers Association at the International Union of Judicial Officers in Paris, Marseilles and Romania during her time as Chair of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association.
She was also shortlisted for the First Women in Business Award (Business Services).
In 2010, Claire won the highly coveted ICM award for Credit Personality of the Year. The award recognised her contribution to the credit industry in variety of areas, including the Sherbet Foundation.
In the same year Claire was appointed to the UK’s Ministry of Justice Working Party in relation to the implementation of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations, which was a set of delegated legislation to implement the provisions of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. Claire’s role was as one of a panel of experts to inform the Government on the implication of the proposed legislation.
In 2011, Claire was a finalist in the East of England Business Woman of the Year Awards.
At the end of 2011 Claire moved her family to be based in Orlando, Florida so that she could begin to grow the US office of the Shergroup franchise. She created Shergroup USA LLC in August 2011 which is based out of Orlando, Florida. Having proved the concept and developed an insight into the US security market the business is now adding new services to its portfolio in line with the UK parent company.
In the last 3 years she has created “Shergroup Consultancy” which runs as part of her US operation. She assists organizations in collecting in their accounts receivables and promoting the best of UK enforcement talent to become authorized High Court Enforcement Officers. She was the authorised HCEO for the highly acclaimed “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away” television series on Channel 5.
Claire’s current project including creating a digital platform to connect clients between countries for Shergroup services including the collection of business debts, the enforcement of court judgments, and the provision of security services.
Claire has been married for 34 years to Steve, and they have two children – Alice aged 25 and Harry aged 19. She is just about to become a grandma to a cat!
As a result of all this experience and insight on changing environments and government intervention, Claire has built a team of like-minded experts around her and the Shergroup brand. This TEAM is now building its online presence to help more business owners grasp the reality of change – whether driven by technology, the growth in online shopping, or by the Coronavirus. As Claire’s sister, Ann, often reminds her, “Life is not a rehearsal”!
So, if you look Claire up – you will find her to be an entrepreneur who is executing on her ideas and year by year has built a brand known for good service, fairness, and innovation. If she or her TEAM can help anyone reading this long list of achievement and experience, she is more than happy to set up a call and help another business owner.
She can be reached by email at [email protected]