High Court Enforcement (HCE), who used to be known as Sheriff’s, is the preferred method of enforcement used upon obtaining a Writ of Control from the Court. These are privately owned companies that operate under instructions on behalf of private Clients.
Many of us have become familiar with this type of Enforcement since the launch of the very popular TV series ‘Can’t pay, we’ll take it away’. There, we normally see dramatic scenes of a couple of ‘heavies’ as they call it – knocking on doors and removing goods as soon as they’re instructed.
Dispelling the High Court Enforcement TV Myths
But the process of reaching that stage isn’t as dramatic as depicted on TV. Debtors are afforded many opportunities before it reaches that stage. Less scary and intimidating tactics often produce higher success rates of recovery. Debtors are more compliant when they are given chances at all stages of the recovery to make payments.
Once we instruct the Enforcement agents, they first send a letter of Notice of Enforcement (NOE) to the debtor. It states their intentions to recover the monies owed, and the debtor has 14 days to reply. At this stage, debtors are given the opportunity to settle the amount in full or make payment arrangements. In many of our cases, this is the most successful stage of the recovery. Whereby, debtors will avoid agents visiting the property to recover goods or money.
If no reply is forthcoming after 14 days, the agents will follow up with phone calls. If no contact is made, then the agents will visit the property. They’ll do this up to 3 times randomly and unexpectedly without notice. Once they meet with the debtor in person, they will assess the goods they may possess if no payment arrangement has been reached. Only goods that possess value will be taken to cover the due amount. And they won’t just remove random items such as TVs and fridges if they are of low monetary value. This dispels the myth shown on TV where we see agents ransacking a debtor’s property, leaving them with nothing. This would be the most extreme case that we rarely reach.
Case Study on HCE
A case we recently settled was for a payment arrangement for our client. The case involved a debtor who had moved home soon after the letter of NOE was posted. The officers then conducted a fresh trace and located the debtor who had contacted us. They were worried their belongings would be removed at the first port of call and didn’t want visits from the officers at their door. The debtor was then reassured, that a payment arrangement was still available, and no visits would be made unless they defaulted on payments. We passed on the information to the officers who then processed it thereafter. Our client successfully recovered the monies owed in full totalling to more than £8,300.00.
In a typical case, the Enforcement process is as follows:
First step – We send instructions
Second step – Notice of Enforcement (NOE) is then sent to the debtor, and they must reply within 14 days of receiving the NOE.
- If no reply, an initial visit is scheduled and there can be up to 3 visits.
- If the debtor replies, agents will obtain either the full amount or make payment arrangements, if defaulted, agents will resume pursuing, which will include making phone calls and emailing the debtor.
Final steps – If visits to the property have been unsuccessful, agents will place the file in their internal Collections department and conduct their own tracing searches to locate the debtors. At every stage, fresh information is gathered for a successful outcome for our clients.
Written By Catia Rodrigues