Enforcing a County Court Judgement (“CCJ”)

19th March 2015
Enforcing a County Court Judgement (“CCJ”) image

Enforcing a County Court Judgement (“CCJ”)

Introduction

The most common method for trying to enforce a CCJ is by way of instruction of a CCB or HCEO to collect the outstanding debt either by collecting payment from the debtor or seizing and selling the debtor’s goods.

CCB or HCEO?

CCJ’s below £600.00 can only be enforced by a CCB through a Warrant of Control.  Judgements between £600.00 and £5,000.00 can be enforced by either a CCB or HCEO.  Judgements above £5,000.00 can only be enforced by a HCEO.  To instruct a HCEO, the CCJ must be transferred to the High Court and a Writ of Control of obtained.  Generally speaking HCEO’s are considered to be more effective at collecting debts that CCB’s.  CCB’s are salaried civil servants employed directly by the Courts, whilst HCEO’s are private individuals/companies authorised by the Lord Chancellor and their profitability is often dependent upon high collection rates.

The Process of Enforcement

  1. Notice of a Visit

With either a Warrant of Control or a Writ of Control, the first stage in the process is for Notice of Enforcement to be given to the debtor.  This must be at least 7 clear working days’ notice.  Unfortunately this does give the debtor the opportunity to move goods “out of reach” and to prepare for the visit of the CCB or HCEO.

Obviously if the debtor pays in full within the period stipulated by the Notice, then enforcement is concluded.

  1. Attending the Debtor’s Address

If full payment is not made within the Notice period, a CCB or HCEO can attend the debtor’s address.  The Warrant of Control or Writ of Control authorises the CCB or HCEO to take control of goods of the debtor which may be sold at auction to realise the debt.

Sometimes the debtor will pay in full or enter into a payment arrangement agreed with the creditor.  Unless the debtor defaults here, the enforcement action will cease.

  1. Taking Control of or Removing Goods

If stage 2 above does not lead to a full realisation of the debt, then the CCB or HCEO may remove the debtor’s goods for sale or leave them securely at the debtor’s premises or at another secure premises until the debt is paid in full.  The debtor is not allowed to remove or sell the goods if the latter occurs.  If the sold goods do not cover the whole of the debt or the debtor breaks the terms of a payment arrangement, then the CCB or HCEO can return to the debtor’s premises.

  1. Sale/Disposal of the Goods

If goods need to be removed, then the debtor gets 7 clear day’s notice of a sale.

  1. Gaining Entry to Seize Goods

The CCB may enter via a normal means of entry that is either open or unlocked by opening without the use of force.  Once entry has been gained, the CCB may force internal locked doors.  The CCB can also enter if he has previously been allowed in and is returning to collect goods to be sold.  CCB’s may use force to break into commercial premises, provided there are no residential premises attached.  Similar rules apply to HCEO’s.

  1. Which Goods can be Seized?

There are a wide range of goods from within the debtor’s premises or on the highway that can be seized and include but are not limited to the following:-

(i)         Vehicles, boats and aeroplanes.

(ii)         Stock and machinery.

(iii)        Computers and office equipment.

(iv)        Household furniture.

(v)         Jewellery and art.

(vi)        Money, bank notes and cheques.

(vii)       Bonds, shares, securities and deeds.

(viii)       Livestock and animals.

(ix)        Firearms.

(x)        Jointly owned property.

(xi)        Items held by the Police.

(xii)       Goods on finance (provided the sale is agreed to by the finance company).

There are certain goods which cannot be seized which include the following:-

(i)         Items which the debtor needs for his job or business, such as tradesman’s tools or books.

(ii)         Essential household items which the debtor and his family needs such as clothing or bedding.

(iii)        Goods which may have already been seized by enforcement agents acting under another Warrant or Writ.

In respect of exempt item (i) above, the exemption is permitted only to sole traders where the tools are used solely by the debtor for their work.  They are not exempt if the debtor allows anyone else to use them, for example an apprentice or a spouse.  Tools of the trade belonging to partnerships or limited companies are not exempt.

Where tools of the trade are deemed to be exempt, this is only up to the value of £1,350.00.  Any tools belonging to a sole trader above that total value may now been seized by the CCB or HCEO.

In respect of jointly owned property, e.g. goods owned jointly with a spouse, these may be taken but if the item is subsequently sold then the co-owner will receive their proportion of the proceeds of sale according to their interest.  The co-owner will obviously need to provide proof of their portion of ownership.

  1. Can the Debtor apply to the Court to stop Enforcement

The debtor may make the following applications to the Court:-

(i)         To request that the CCJ be set aside or varied.

(ii)         To appeal the CCJ.

(iii)        To request that the Warrant be suspended or the Writ be stayed.

With any application the debtor will have to provide a good reason for his application and also provide strong supporting evidence.  Any application for any of the above by a debtor will not stop enforcement.  Enforcement may proceed until the Court rules in the debtor’s favour.

However a bankruptcy petition or a company winding-up petition will stay execution.  As soon as the CCB or HCEO is made aware that the Warrant or Writ has been suspended or stayed, then enforcement must stop.

If you need advice about collection of a CCJ then please contact Daven Naghen on 01775 72261 or email daven.naghen@maplessolicitors.com or arrange an appointment or visit us at our offices at 23 New Road Spalding Lincolnshire PE11 1DH.


How Banks are Cashing in on Wills image

How Banks are Cashing in on Wills

Recent headlines have reported how banks are now cashing in on Wills.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, banks offered customers low cost Wills (or sometimes even free Wills) but the small print allowed the bank to charge extortionate rates to act as Executors. It is reported that banks are expecting billions of pounds of revenue from their Will writing services and administering estates and in some cases their fees have been over £12,000 to administer an estate as they look to charge a fixed fee PLUS a percentage of the deceased’s wealth.

If you or a loved one has made a Will through a bank we would urge you to check who you have appointed as Executors and check any small print which you may have signed. If you are unsure then please speak with one of our lawyers in the Wills and Probate team who can look at your existing Will with you. It may be appropriate to make a new Will which revokes any previous Will you have made which could save your family thousands of pounds when your estate needs to be administered.

In the majority of cases, when someone has passed away we can provide the family with a quote of how much the legal fees will be so that there are no nasty surprises once the administration is complete.

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Testimonials

Gemma Mayer LLB

"I would highly recommend Maples Solicitors, especially Gemma Mayer, for any conveyancing work. The level of support and professionalism was excellent at all times. I also felt if I needed to ask or clarify anything that it was not an issue. Buying and selling a house is stressful enough, but Gemma helped me through it step by step."

Anita Toal LLB BA

"I think you are brilliant. You can use my comments above. You are efficient, friendly and quite clearly very good at what you do. Mainly you don’t leave people hanging around too long for." "So easy to talk to her and she understood what I wanted. She put me at ease and I cant thank her enough"

Daven Naghen LLB

"Daven provided an excellent service, from attending the first interview with me to the final court appearance. He filled me full of confidence that he would defend me to which he did and come out with an excellent outcome in view of my position that I had put myself in."

Faye Blair LLB

Faye was excellent, sensitive and acted very well to the time constraints we faced. Great service and dealt with compassion at such sad times made the process less painful very professional.

Jamie Dobbs ACILEx

Over the last forty years I have cause to deal with many law firms both in a personal and professional capacity, including some ‘top’ London Companies. In all of those dealings I have never found anyone as proactive and so willing to offer help and advice as Jamie Dobbs. During the last two years Jamie guided my parents through the completion of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Helped myself with the use of the LPA and recently dealing with Probate and Estate Administration following their death.

Mike Pepper MA

Mike Pepper gave us excellent advice. He was always most helpful and accommodating giving lucid explanations every step of the way. Thank you Mike.

Claire Smith FCILEx

Claire Smith has been amazing in every way. I highly recommend her and I am so grateful for all her help. She’s professional on all levels, reliable, extremely organised and I will be recommending her to everyone. I’m very lucky to have had her representing me and I can’t thank her enough. She is an asset to Maples. Thanks so much Claire!