Tribunal awards success should be trumpeted, says Shergroup

Tribunal awards success should be trumpeted, says Shergroup

Tribunal awards success should be trumpeted, says Shergroup

The new fast track enforcement system for tribunal cases should be praised for helping claimants to fight for the money they are owed, according to High Court enforcement experts Shergroup.

Shergroup – which has its roots as the sixth oldest law firm in the UK – campaigned for the implementation of the new ACAS and Employment Tribunal Fast Track scheme, which came into being in April 2010. It is operated by the Registry Trust.

Chief Executive Claire Sandbrook said the system had been the subject of some negativity in the media, with assertions given that enforcement under the new regime was no more effective than under the old system.

“We find this scarcely credible,” said Mrs Sandbrook, a qualified solicitor. “The new system is so much more straightforward for those who are owed money by a former employer. They can instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) by simply filling in a form and paying a small court fee, as soon as the employer has defaulted in payment of the award.

“Previously, they had to file the award at the county court nearest to the respondent’s address, have it converted into an enforceable court judgment then obtain a certificate to enable that judgment to be enforced. They then had to apply for the method of enforcement of their choice.

“Under this old system, only half of claimants were paid in full, with nearly 40 per cent not receiving anything at all – many of whom were amongst the most vulnerable in our society. Frankly, it was nothing short of a disgrace.”

She added: “Since our HCEOs began operating under the new system, we have cleared 89 cases so far with a positive outcome, with monies recovered totaling almost £450,000. This is a payment rate of 92 per cent.”

In 12 cases, Shergroup has successfully recovered sums in excess of £12,500, with one client receiving an award of £36,000. A further 53 cases are still ongoing. In cases where there has been an unsuccessful outcome, more than a third of these were due to the employer ceasing to trade or going into liquidation. In nearly a quarter of unsuccessful cases, the address provided was either a vacated property or completely false. Over a quarter were withdrawn by the creditor after being initially actioned by Shergroup.

As well as High Court enforcement, Essex-based Shergroup provides a wide range of services from revenue management, debt recovery, transcription and legal services to evictions, security and training, The company, which has a base in India, has recently expanded to open an office in Florida.

Mrs Sandbrook added: “Our figures show that the changes introduced have been a success – which is something we should be congratulated upon. It is a really good news story that should be trumpeted, not denigrated.

“However, we have no intention of resting on our laurels. We are reopening nearly 40 per cent of unsuccessful cases to see whether they can be resurrected. We will continue to strive – as we do for all our creditors – to get awards paid in full wherever and whenever possible.”

She added: “I hope that all those with an interest in this issue – including the Ministry of Justice, Registry Trust and Citizens’ Advice – will take notice of these findings and continue to support our involvement in the process of enforcing such awards.”