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In this case the claimant obtained a judgment for unpaid invoices which we understand had been outstanding for about 3 years before they instructed Shergroup to collect the debt. Despite this delay it is possible to leave a judgment for up to 6 years while waiting to decide on what direction to take for enforcement. What we do suggest you do however is keep your judgment decision making under review and document all attempts to trace assets and addresses of your debtor. This is because if you go beyond 6 years and then want to enforce your judgment you will have to show the Court what efforts you have made to enforce the judgment in the original 6 year period.
In this case the judgment was entered in the 18th February 2020 in the County Court Business Centre. TEAM Shergroup arranged to obtain the necessary certificate from the County Court for the debt to be transferred to the High Court for a Writ of Control to be issued as soon as they were instructed. We would love to say that creditors send us their judgments as soon as they are entered but we recognize that firstly people have to find us – which is why we do TV shows! – and secondly they have to make the decision in their own mind to enforce payment. Sometimes these decisions can take weeks or even months. All we would say about this – is that the delay can
The Writ of Control was sealed on the 14th August 2020 for an amount of |
Enforcement Agents acting under the licence of Shergroup’s authorised High Court Enforcement Officer, Claire Sandbrook, went on to collect the amount in full.
The enforcement took place in the shop setting which was stuffed full with stock. Agents Alex and KC entered the shop and announced their arrival to the employee who wa looking after the shop. The owner of the business was not on site but could be contacted by phone. This is not an unusual situation.
The business owner was belligerent on the phone and Agent Alex was firm with him on what was going to happen if he didn’t start to explain how he was going to pay the outstanding judgment. The business owner also said he didn’t know the name of his supplier and that he couldn’t afford to do so. Clearly with the stock full to the brim of kitchen utensils and other hardware items we didn’t rely on his version of what was happening in his business.
The Agents continued to maintain their position – pay us or the stock will be removed for sale. Eventually they escalated the Writ of Control process from Stage 1, on to Stage 2 and Sale & Disposal stage. The locksmith was called and as expected this accelerated the debtor’s response to the situation. Suddenly the debtor remembered this debt and his supplier! Not only that, but it then transpired that the debtor business owner had a solicitor, and Agent Alex received a call from this solicitor to negotiate a payment. An offer was put forward of 50% of the value of the debt, but Agent Alex rejected this and said the full amount would have to be paid to stop the stock in the shop from being removed. On hearing this, and within a few minutes, the full amount of the debt, costs, interest and High Court Enforcement Officer fees were paid without any further delay.
Shergroup’s client was delighted with this outcome. After 3 years this long outstanding matter was brought to an end with a full payment in full including costs and interest and no cost to them. The Judgment’s procrastination and denial meant they paid the fees of the High Court Enforcement Officer.
Many firms of solicitors suffer with unpaid bills that they have sent to their clients for payment, and the client doesn’t pay for the work done. In some ways, solicitors suffer in silence on this. Their professional standing and red tape on how to bill a client and how to deal with a dispute make it a painful process to escalate an unpaid bill to a “letter before action”, and then into a county court claim. The resulting judgment may then have to be enforced.
We hope from this storyline, solicitors themselves can see, that in recovering their unpaid bills, they are following a lawful process, just like any other Judgment Creditor. They are entitled to send their letter before action, issue their claim, and then pursue payment of any judgment they achieve. Sometimes a Writ of Control will be the right remedy, or in other cases solicitors may use one of the other enforcement methods such as Charging Order or Attachment of Earnings. Solicitors may be better placed to choose the right remedy for the circumstances of their erstwhile client. What we can say is that a Writ of Control is a “great leveller”. Whatever you do or do not know about the Judgment Debtor becomes very clear from a knock on their door to their home or business and of course it is all done under the authority of the High Court Writ of Control.
So in this case the Solicitor had carried out legal work for an individual and their costs had not been paid. Just like any other creditor they had escalated their unpaid bill into a county court claim, and then on to a judgment using Money Claims Online. This all happened in September 2019.
Shergroup was instructed to transfer the judgment on [date]. The Business Solutions Advisor was [name]. Every Shergroup client has a dedicated BSA who looks after their entire portfolio of Shergroup business. Shergroup obtained the necessary certificate from the County Court for the debt to be transferred to the High Court for a Writ of Control to be issued on 13th April 2020. The amount due under the Writ of Control was f £3,184.37 including costs of execution with interest accruing at 8% from the date of transfer. As you can see from this timeline it had taken the solicitors nearly 7 months to move their judgment forward into a High Court Writ. This is not unusual. We often see a large gap in time between the date of the judgment and the date we are instructed to begin the transfer process to the High Court. This is usually where the Judgment Creditor is considering options, and no doubt reminding the Judgment Debtor that in the absence of payment they are going to instruct Shergroup. From our point of view we encourage creditors to “telescope” down this period of time, and get the judgment to us for transfer and then out into a Writ of Control and Notice of Enforcement. The Notice of Enforcement, which has to be served, gives the Judgment Debtor, 7 clear days to pay the amount owing before the High Court Enforcement Agent is instructed to attend the address. In this case the solicitors could have instructed Shergroup back in September 2019 and issued their Writ within a couple of weeks, without the delay of waiting another 7 months for their money.
As it was Enforcement Agents acting under the delegated authority of Claire Sandbrook and Shergroup’s Debtor Services TEAM collected the debt in full by 4 instalments over a period of 10 months. The Solicitors were delighted with the outcome and the continued updates received from Shergroup’s dedicated Business Solutions Advisor.
On this case we saw Alex travelling for miles on this second visit to the same address within 10 days following the debtors assurances that the debt would be paid in full, to be followed by texts advising that they were sorry for the delay and it would now be paid in full, and another similar text. The High Court writ being actioned by our High Court Enforcement Agents was the only way Alex believed our client (a solicitor with an unpaid bill) would be able to recover their fees, and of course the costs which are incurred in addition to the original debt where this remains unpaid and the case is heard and found against you in a court of law. Alex demonstrated once again his excellent conversation skills through a barely open window where he spoke to the aunt of the debtor and explained the situation. After being told by the aunt that the debtors father was on the way to discuss the debt with them, Alex and KC respectfully advised they would wait in the car for his arrival. As soon as the debtors father arrived he settled the debt in full on behalf of his son, enabling our client to now receive full settlement of their overdue fees.
In this case, our client company is a PPI claims management company. They collect PPI compensation for their customers, and pay it directly to them. However under the term of their contract, the amount of their commission has to be paid back to them from their customer. Whilst this may seem a little bizarre that’s the way they work, and as a result their customers do forget this clause in the contract, and fail to pay back the commission.
So in this storyline, the claim wa in respect of unpaid PPI commission. Our client company entered judgment on 11th March 2020 using Money Claims Online. As is their process, they instructed Shergroup to transfer the judgment from the county court to the High Court on [date].
Despite the court system being in uproar at the start of the pandemic, Shergroup’s Business Solution Advisor, Anthony Bousfield, managed the transfer through the upheaval caused by lockdown.
Although the Writ of Control was sealed on the 14th April 2020 for an amount of £1,016,24 including costs of execution and interest, it took a great deal of effort to encourage the judgment debtor to part with her money.
Payment in full was finally collected on the third visit by Agents Mark and Virgil. The date range of visits when from 16th October 2020, with payment eventually being made on the 3rd visit on the 15th February 2021. Between each visit Shergroup’s Debtor Services TEAM kept in constant contact with the judgment debtor to remind her of her obligations. Efforts were made to collect the balance without the need for further visits but in the end it was the perseverance of the Agents that brought about payment in full.
In the episode you can see Agents Mark and Virgil attending at the judgment debtor’s home on a very snowy day. You can see the Agents checking out the garden and the snowman (!) and then turning their attention to the family car parked outside the debtor’s home.
Despite protestations that she could not afford to pay the debt, it was explained to her that the car could be subject to enforcement action if she did not pay the amount due. Family cars, and cars for business are always assets that create what we call “leverage” when it comes to getting a judgment paid.
As the client was not prepared to accept a payment plan, Mark kept talking to the debtor through an open ground floor window. With the threat of the car being taken, the debtor’s husband stepped in to pay the debt off in full. In fact this client doesn’t like payment plans, because in their view their customer has had the full benefit of their PPI claim and therefore should have kept funds back to repay the commission element.
Throughout the visit Agents Mark and Virgil kept a consistent tone of voice, and walked around the property observing and feeding back to the debtor what they intended to do. It will have been clear to her and her husband that they were not going to give up easily, despite the snow!
The approach taken by the Agents in this storyline is how we enforce any judgment entrusted to us. Sometimes there can be inbuilt delays in the system and in 2020 of course the court system suffered serious backlogs due to the pandemic. But despite this challenge, we were impressed with how the High Court brought its system for issuing Writs of Control online in very short order, and kept open email communications on the timescales for Writs being issued. This helped Shergroup and our clients in a very difficult situation so we would like to say a massive thank you to the High Court staff at Central Office in London for their support.
Below is the link to the My5 Channel 5 catch up for episode 1, Call The Bailiffs – Time To Pay Up:
Introduction: When it comes to pursuing legal action, it’s crucial...
The enforcement of debts can be a daunting and often...
High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs), commonly referred to as high...
Introduction: When it comes to debt recovery and enforcement, it...
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Last updated | 19 July 2023
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