There is a wealth of internet advice on coping with life as a debtor and what action to take if a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is served against you, but there is very little easily accessible information available for creditors seeking information on how to recover money or goods owed.
Research from the Bankers Automated Clearing Service (BACS) estimates that the total amount of money owed to SMEs across Britain is £24.6 billion. According to the Registry Trust, which logs the number of CCJs (consumer, corporate and non-corporate) registered in the UK, the use of CCJs is increasing - in Q3 of 2010 over 193,726 CCJs were made for a total amount of £671.7 million which was an increase of 19.4% on the previous quarter.
David Carter, Director of The Sheriffs Office explains: “As experts in debt recovery, we believe that everyone pursuing a debt in the current economic climate should be aware of basic enforcement facts. Although CCJs are becoming the most popular means of debt recovery, many creditors are simply unaware of the powers available to them and for debts over £600 High Court Enforcement is an often overlooked option - mainly due to a lack of awareness on the part of both creditors and many solicitors who wrongly believe it is only applicable to debts over £5,000. A CCJ for over £600 can be transferred to the High Court for just £50 and High Court Enforcement Officers are only paid for the debt they collect.”
Media coverage has added mis-information to the debate and caused further confusion about the process of debt recovery, the options available to creditors and the real costs involved.
Carter adds: “We believe education is vital - in today’ economic climate creditors need to understand how High Court Enforcement could work for them to recover their debt. The Sheriffs Office has created a ‘Guide to Enforcement’ available free of charge from www.thesheriffsoffice.com This indispensable guide, written in easy to understand language, answers all the questions a creditor might have before commencing action, including checks on whether a debt is recoverable, locating the debtor and taking the necessary steps to secure successful enforcement.”
• The costs of a CCJ will depend on the amount of the debt. The judgment debt, interest, court fees and all enforcement costs will be collected from the debtor.
• Currently, debts under £600 can only be enforced by County Court Bailiffs.
• If the debt is over £600 then High Court Enforcement gives creditors more options.
• Creditors can transfer a CCJ up to the High Court for enforcement by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) for a court fee of £50. Some HCEOs will charge for managing this; however The Sheriffs Office will handle the entire process for free.
• HCEOs can enforce a judgment anywhere in England & Wales.
• Judgments for debts of £5,000 and over can only be enforced by a HCEO.
• High Court Enforcement Officers work under the authority of a Writ of Fieri Facias (fi fa). If the HCEO is unable to collect then an industry standard abortive fee of £60 plus VAT is payable for each address visited. There is no abortive fee for Employment Tribunal Awards and ACAS Settlements enforced by HCEOs.
• HCEOs have more powers than a County Court Bailiff and tend to recover more debt as they do not have to give advance notice of a visit to the debtor. They are also permitted to force entry into commercial premises - a power not permitted to County Court Bailiffs.
• HCEOs are only paid when they successfully enforce a judgment. County Court Bailiffs are salaried civil servants.
The Sheriffs Office are authorised High Court Enforcement Officers, enforcing judgments on behalf of commercial and private clients. The Sheriffs Office recovery rate is 93p in the £1 of enforceable writs, which is 60% higher than the industry average provided by the Ministry of Justice. The Sheriffs Office requires that its HCEOs are also certificated bailiffs. For more details please visit www.thesheriffsoffice.com
T: 0870 850 2157
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