Writs of control webinar - answers to your questions

Thank you to everyone who took part in our first ever webinar. We had more questions than we had time to answer, so we are bringing you the answers to these in this article.

Can you visit a company director’s personal address to seize goods?

Assuming that the judgment is against the company, then the notice of enforcement will be sent to the company address. If the personal address was listed as an official company address, for example the registered office address, and there were goods belonging to the company at the personal address, then you can enforce there.

If the defendant pays the judgment following the compliance stage but before Stage 1, is the claimant then liable for the fee of £75 + VAT or is this still recoverable from the defendant?

Under these circumstances, the compliance fee of £75 plus VAT will be recovered from the defendant and the claimant will have nothing further to pay.

Would you be allowed to take control of a mobile home, if this was on agricultural land and was lived in by the judgment debtor?

If a mobile home is the debtor’s main residence, then you are not permitted to take control of it. However, if they have another main residence and this is a holiday home, then you can.

Does the enforcement agent have to produce a sealed writ of control to prove to debtor there is a writ of control in force?

The HCEO (High Court Enforcement Officer) will retain the original writ and the enforcement agent will take a copy of the writ to show to the debtor. The details contained in the writ are also given in the notice of enforcement, which will have already been sent to the debtor as part of the compliance stage.

If the debtor suggests a CGA when agent is on site, does the agent have to agree a CGA?

The controlled goods agreement is required to list the goods that the enforcement agent has taken into control where a payment arrangement has been made. If the arrangement is breached, then the enforcement agent may return and remove those goods to satisfy the debt. If the debtor suggests a payment arrangement, this will be put forward to the claimant. If the enforcement agent is of the opinion that there are sufficient goods available to satisfy the debt in full, he will advise the client so that an informed decision can be made.

If the debtor contacts you following the Notice of Enforcement and wants to enter into a payment arrangement, do you have to move to Stage 1?

Yes, under the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013, payment must be made in full at the compliance stage (which is the stage where the notice of enforcement is sent). If it is not, then the case moves to enforcement stage 1, where the payment arrangement can be put into place.

Has there been any progress with HCEOs’ ability to enforce judgments that relate to CCA regulated debts?

A change to the High Court and County Court Jurisdiction Order 1991 will need to be made to allow this to happen. Whilst there has been much discussion, no decisions have, as yet been made. We are hopeful that this will be one of the recommendations made by Lord Justice Briggs in his forthcoming report of his review of civil justice. We are currently running a survey to gather opinions on whether the Jurisdiction Order should be changed, so please do participate in the survey. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HCEGroup

What happens to all these costs where the goods seized by you are subsequently returned to their owner because they are not owned by the debtor?

The cost of removal will be added to the debt and will be recoverable from the debtor. However, if it is not possible to recover sufficient funds, then the HCEO will bear these costs. We are aware that some other HCEOs do ask their clients for an indemnity against such costs, but we do not believe that this is the correct procedure.

Relating to vehicles, would the HCEO undertake an HPI search before selling the vehicle, to confirm if a finance house has an interest?

The HCEO would normally conduct an HPI check before taking control of the vehicle, and certainly before removing it. https://hpicheck.com/

Is the Notice of Enforcement required to be served on every premises at which you seek to enforce the judgment or only on the judgment debtor personally at their given address?

The notice of enforcement is served at just one address, either the registered address or normal business address for a company, at the trading premises or residential address for a sole trade, and at the residential address for an individual.

Does the VAT that is added apply to the fees or to the value of the writ?

The enforcement fees for each stage are liable for VAT, but VAT is not added to the debt being recovered.

Will the exempt goods have to total £1,350 or is the value per item?

When taking control of goods that belong to and are exclusively used by a sole trader, commonly known as “tools of the trade”, under the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013, the first £1,350 of the total value of the goods taken into control are exempt from seizure. In practice this might mean that one higher value item is exempt, or a number of smaller items, up to a total of £1,350.

What happens to the abortive fee? Is there a separate fee for each premises visited?

The abortive fee has been replaced by the compliance fee. Where enforcement is successful, this will be paid by the debtor. Where insufficient funds are recovered, the compliance fee is paid by the claimant. The current fee is £75 plus VAT. There is just one compliance fee charged per case, not per address visited.

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