Shergroup on BBC radio to call for change

Shergroup on BBC radio to call for change

Shergroup on BBC radio to call for change

Shergroup has called for a complete overhaul of the civil justice system and has found support from His Honour Judge Paul Collins, a former Senior Circuit Judge at Central London Civil Justice.

CEO of Shergroup, Claire Sandbrook was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live’s Breakfast show this morning (28th January), while Chris Bell, Policy Advisor, appeared on BBC Radio 4 Today, both discussing County Court Judgments and the issues of debtors that won’t pay.

Statistics from 10 years ago showed that 12 months after a judgment had been given, only 35% of those judgments had been paid in full, a further 30% had been part paid, and for 35% nothing had been paid. The amount outstanding on those judgment debts was estimated at £600m. “The situation will be worse today,” Chris says.

Honour Judge Paul Collins referred to the system as ‘ancient and creeky’: “There is a large constituency of debtors who do not have the money to pay,” he said, “but a similar size who wont pay and will do anything to avoid paying.”

The programme followed Scott Hines, a Sherforce enforcement officer attempting to collect a £12,000 debt as one of the million county court judgments issued each year. Debtors have 14 days to pay from the time judgment is entered, but often do not, meaning 236,000 warrants of execution are issued each year, resulting in visits from county court bailiffs.

Claire Sandbrook, CEO of Shergroup adds: “Shergroup continues to call for the reform of the current law to enable judgment creditors of all types to be able to use the High Court system of enforcement to give the best chance of success.

“One of the court users on the BBC 5 Live programme said that if the debtor had come into their house and stolen £5,000 worth of goods, or caused £5,000 worth of damage they would have been pursued with the full force of the law,” she says. “Because it was a £5,000 debt that they owe, it is not treated as seriously. How is that fair to all the judgment creditors out there whose business survival relies on these outstanding debts?”

Philip King, Chief Executive of the Institute of Credit Management (ICM) the world’s second largest credit management organisation, goes further: “We would like to see punitive measures imposed on those who deliberately avoid payment: “It is time to expel the myth of the poor downtrodden debtor in every case,” he says. “The reality is that there are a large number of hard-core debtors who have no intent of repaying their debts, which in any other language would be considered theft.”